Posted in Thoughts

Automatic Thinking (or, psychology in the kitchen)

Did you know I’ve written other blog posts? And they’re full of useful information for students? You can read them here.

I’ve developed a (bad?) habit of rarely using measuring cups or spoons when I make food. Part of this is to save dirty dishes – I hate cleaning more things than I need to – and part of it is years of experience. When you make something more than once, it’s easy to judge amounts by eye. And honestly, most recipes don’t require a huge degree of precision!

(When I make bread, I always have to judge the dough by eye. Our sporadic weather, and the fact that I use whole wheat flour, make recipes more like…suggestions, really. This does make it really difficult to write down recipes that I created, though.)

This is one of the examples of “automatic thinking” in my life. I know this kind of thinking gets a bad reputation, because it can also lead to stereotypes, assumptions, and bias. But I feel the positive side of it is mostly ignored. It’s pretty amazing that our minds can record something as simple as “this is what a cup of milk looks like”, and then store it in our reference library for the next recipe.

Sometimes I wish that other things were automatic for me. Knowing what to say to strangers. Understanding the warning signs before I get into a terrible relationship. Being a good parent, a good girlfriend, a good friend. But then, if all of that was easy and thoughtless – would it count? I’m not sure.

What kind of helpful “automatic thinking” do you use in your life? And what do you wish was automatic?



I'm an aspiring librarian just entering graduate school. My dream has always been to help other people get the information or resources they need, and working in a public library is the best way to accomplish this goal!

One thought on “Automatic Thinking (or, psychology in the kitchen)

  1. Your Great-Grandma Thacher would be so proud of your cooking habits, as she didn’t even own any measuring cups or spoons, just used her eyes and taste to know how to make things. Your other Great-Grandma Crawford did the same with her sewing, and your Great-Great-Grandma Moberly did this with her knitting and sewing. It is a combination of natural skill and a lot of practice, which is the same with the other skills you list. And just like how easy it is to cook and bake for you should never be taken for granted or unappreciated just because it is easy for you to do, so it is when you become skilled in other areas. Some may have a knack for a skill over another, but that doesn’t mean their efforts are less to be appreciated because it is easier for them. And no one comes into this world with the knack for doing everything, some skills never get developed at all, but we still survive due to coping measures or by relying on others who do have the skills we lack…or are too busy to practice. I’m not talking about perfectionism, which can use pride to keep one from attempting to get better at something one doesn’t do well and gives up on it because one can’t do it perfectly..but there are skills that don’t have to be used simply because honing them would detract from the life being lived by focusing on what is more natural and enjoyable. That is not to say that we should only do those things we are good at, as sometimes things we don’t do well we can still get a lot of enjoyment from working on. For example, I do not play the piano well, but even on my worst playing, I thoroughly enjoy the experience. It is not in the hope that I will perfect my playing, but in the actual action of playing anything at all (feeling the keys, the vibration of the music, etc) that creates the happy feelings in me. The same for my attempts at writing – it may not get my point across perfectly, but the action of writing at all, makes me feel good. So I say, work on the skills that make you feel better about yourself and let it be a good experience.


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