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A small dose of positivity

Ali Abdaal
Ali Abdaal

Hey friends,

I’ve spent this past week working as the surgical FY1 (junior doctor) in the Emergency Department. This involves fielding phone calls from GPs (general practitioners) who think their patients might have a surgical issue and need urgent assessment. I’m often the first doctor to see them when they arrive, and once I’ve made a provisional plan, a senior reviews the patient to double check the management plan.

One evening last week I was typing up some patient notes when an FY2 doctor (one year senior) sat next to me. We vaguely knew each other, so I casually said "hey man how’s it going?". He replied with "pretty great, you?"

I’m surprised by how surprised I was at that response.

"Pretty great."

That’s something I almost never hear in response to the "how’s it going" question. People usually reply with "yeah not bad" or some variant of "sigh, struggling on". I expressed my surprise to the doctor, who shrugged and said “we’re saving lives doing medicine, that sounds pretty great to me”.

This small injection of positivity made such a difference to the rest of my day, that now when people ask me how I’m doing, I make a point to be a little more enthusiastic with my response. It’s not that I’m faking anything - I’m normally pretty content at most times of the day.

It’s just that (at least in the UK) I feel we have a bias towards downplaying our positive emotions. Especially in an environment like Medicine where it’s fashionable to act as if we’re only just managing to stay afloat, sprinkling a small dose of positivity around us can work wonders.

Have a great week!

Ali


This week's podcast episode

Not Overthinking | 005 - Why should you invest in a good kitchen bin? | Episode 5

In this episode, we explore "Measure" — a mental model for spending time and money more effectively. Based on this framework, we conclude that everyone should get a good kitchen bin and a voice coach, and that Ali probably shouldn't get a Tesla.

Kindle highlight of the week

Resistance also told me I shouldn't seek to instruct, or put myself forward as a purveyor of wisdom; that this was vain, egotistical, possibly even corrupt, and that it would work harm to me in the end. That scared me. It made a lot of sense.

From The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

Stuff I've enjoyed this week

1 - Article - Buy Yourself a F*^king Latte - An interesting and entertaining look at a commonly pedalled piece of financial advice. It also made me feel better about the money I spend at Costa Coffee every day.

2 - Audiobook - Skyward (Brandon Sanderson) - After finishing Oathbringer last week, I thought I'd take a mini-break from enormous fantasy books and started listening to this much more light-hearted science-fiction piece about a girl who wants to become a star-fighter pilot. Thoroughly enjoying it so far 😁

3 - Podcast - Joe Rogan's interview with Kevin Hart - I've never  heard a full episode of the Joe Rogan experience, but after enjoying his interview with Kevin Hart, I might have to add it to my weekly list. There was some pretty great stuff towards the end about how to take inspiration from other people's successes. The whole episode was generally quite funny as well (as you'd expect), so it's well worth a listen to.

This week's video

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Ali Abdaal

Junior doctor, YouTuber, web designer, aspiring musician. Trying out this blogging thing.