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Why ‘should’ can take a long walk off a short pier

swimming pool ladder bright blue yellow

Hot on the heels of an exceptionally hot European summer and CNN naming Copenhagen as the best city in the world for swimming, the nearby beaches and harbors are still teeming with people cooling off in the open water. When I complain about the heat, I’m often told, ‘You should go for a dip!’

The only valid reason I can see for swimming is to avoid death by drowning – but that ‘should’ stops me in my tracks. It carries a sense of obligation, judgement, pressure and, most of all, guilt.

I don’t like to swim, but I should.

Should is for things we don’t want to do. Should is based on the expectations of others. Should is inconsistent with our own values and how we want to behave. Continue reading