Words That Changed Our Lives


Table of contents

In this episode, we each talk about 3 words/phrases that have changed the way we think about things and see the world. We touch on Taimur's new addiction to David Dobrik's vlogs, and Ali doesn't stop going on about a magic convention that he attended this weekend.

Some of the highlights from our discussion:


Charitable – Whilst the literal meaning of charitable relates to giving to charity, Taimur considers the word more in the sense of how it has changed the way that he reacts and considers his own statements in terms of being charitable towards other people’s intentions. It has become a default response - whenever he is reacting to something, part of his thought process will be ‘is this a charitable interpretation’ of another person's statements or intentions.

Comrade (non-political) – One of Taimur’s main takeaways from the book ‘The Courage to be Disliked’ was to try and view other human beings as his comrade – not in a political sense but in the sense of a common humanity and kinship. There are many explicit instances within our lives where comradeship is more evident – Ali mentions the shared purpose and sense of appreciation for other staff on night shifts at work, for instance. Bringing this shared sense of appreciation and understanding for one another to all instances in our lives would only have positive effects in how we react and view other people.

Intrinsic / Extrinsic Motivation – This gets at the idea of identifying whether your motivation is coming from within you or driven by external forces, such as societal pressures, external values and expectation. In essence, whether you intrinsically want to do something or whether you’re doing it for extrinsic reasons. Taimur describes how it helped him come off the ‘prestige bandwagon’ – that of trying to collect badges of prestige. When it came to applying for jobs, the intrinsic mindset can help get you out of the pressure to try and get a job at a prestigious company that you might not care about other than for its prestige.


Deferred Life Plan – This idea, put forward by Tim Ferriss in the 4-Hour Work Week, describes the invisible life script that we are all expected to live by whereby we go to school to get good grades to go to a decent university to get good grades to get a good job to then have a career and then retire and then have fun. This conceptualisation brings negative connotations to this assumed life plan that many people travel down and this negative veneer is helpful in making us reconsider whether this really is what we want to do with our lives.

Growth Mindset – The growth mindset is the idea that everything we do is part of the growth process – it’s all a growth trajectory. A fixed mindset, on the other hand, is the idea that if you get something wrong or fail a test, you feel as if you’re a failure. This is a very fixed view of the world in terms of viewing your abilities as limited and any threat to that is going to cause pain and anguish. Developing a growth mindset enables you to more consciously develop a positive attitude towards all your experiences in terms of learning from them – regardless of whether they are positive or negative.

Hedonic Treadmill – Describes the phenomenon that we’ve all experienced of when wanting something, getting it, acclimatising to a new normal and then starting to want more in order to get that same level of satisfaction or happiness. This idea is particularly pertinent for when we are buying anything – it forces us to stop and consider whether that purchase will actually make us happier. Ali describes how this has helped him rethink potential purchases.


Stoicism – Some of the quotes from this school of Greek philosophy that have stood out for Ali have been:

It’s not the events that cause us unhappiness but the story that we tell ourselves about those events.
In between stimulus and response there is a space and that space is for us to choose our response.
Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.

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What is this? Not Overthinking is a podcast about happiness, creativity, and the human condition. We talk about things to help us think, do, and be better. Things like social interaction, lifestyle design, mental models...things that are hard to examine, but important to explore. And hopefully, things that make for a fun and interesting chat every week.

Follow Not Overthinking on Twitter: https://twitter.com/noverthinking.

Who are we?

Ali is a junior doctor and YouTuber working in Cambridge, UK. He makes videos about medicine, technology, productivity and lifestyle design. His links: YouTube, Blog, Newsletter, Instagram

Taimur is a data scientist and writer, working on his own startup Causal. He writes on his blog and as a columnist for Medium. His links: Blog, Twitter, Medium, Instagram

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