Not Overthinking

Not Overthinking
The weekly podcast about happiness, creativity, and the human condition. It’s us, Ali and Taimur Abdaal, occasionally joined by guests, talking 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. We’d love for you to join us.

Book Discussion - The Psychology of Money
Oct 18 • 43 min
In this episode, we discuss Morgan Housel’s book The Psychology of Money. We explore some of the key points, like the role that luck plays in success, why poor people buy lottery tickets, and the differences between getting wealthy and staying wealthy.
Competitiveness and Mimetic Traps
Oct 12 • 59 min
This week we read and discuss Brian Timar’s excellent blog post entitled “Mimetic Traps”. We try and figure out when competitiveness is unproblematic and how we can avoid inheriting desires from other people.
Dissatisfaction and Aspiration
Oct 5 • 65 min
In this episode, we start by discussing an insight Ali had about the nature of dissatisfaction and setting overly high standards for ourselves. We then turn to the start of a book discussion, where Taimur explains some of the theories he’s been reading…
Should we donate to charity because it “feels good”?
Sep 28 • 70 min
In this episode, we discuss some of the concepts behind effective altruism with our friend Lucia. We touch on her motivations for setting up a public health charity, the Giving What We Can Pledge, and a few other curiosities.
Book Discussion - The 4-Hour Work Week
Sep 20 • 82 min
In this episode, we discuss some of Ali’s Kindle highlights from Tim Ferriss’ magnum opus, ‘The 4-Hour Work Week’, the single book that’s most changed Ali’s life. We break down some of the main points from the book, which turns into a lengthy discussion…
Bouncing Back, Finding Fulfilment and Being Productive ft. Noah Kagan
Sep 15 • 120 min
As we were away this week, this episode is an interview that Ali recorded with Noah Kagan as part of his Deep Dive series on YouTube.
Imposter Syndrome and Other Curiosities
Sep 6 • 48 min
In this episode, we sit down and have a chat about random topics on our mind. We touch on kids (as usual), and then we talk about our experiences of imposter syndrome and a few other bits.
How can we treat children morally? (Part 2)
Aug 30 • 81 min
In this episode, we talk some more about how we can treat children better. Specifically — what it means to “take children seriously”, why we should take children more seriously, and how we can take children more seriously.
How can we treat children morally? (Part 1)
Aug 16 • 53 min
In this episode, we review Ali’s unemployment, talk about how to talk about workism, and Taimur finally elucidates some concrete ideas about how society treats children immorally, and how we treat children better.
Reimagining our relationship with ‘Work’, ft. Paul Millerd
Aug 9 • 103 min
We’re joined this week by Paul Millerd, who’s spent a lot of time thinking, reading, and writing about ‘work’. We talk about the current culture of ‘work-ism’, the history of work and how we ended up here, the assumptions that our culture makes about…
Friendships and Relationships ft. Valentin and Cliff
Aug 2 • 62 min
In this episode we chat to Valentin Perez and Cliff Weitzman about friendships, relationships, and the our ideas of the good life.
The Abusive Relationships of Productivity YouTubers
Jul 26 • 76 min
In this episode, we discuss one of Taimur’s new fledgling theories about the nefarious parasocial relationships that exist between ‘productivity’ content creators and their audience. We try and figure out other areas in which this applies, and explore why…
68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice - Part 3
Jul 19 • 45 min
This is the third and final part of our “68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice” series, where we go through an excellent blog post by Kevin Kelly, offering his life advice after turning 68.
How to Understand Things
Jul 12 • 87 min
In this episode, we discuss Nabeel Qureshi’s recent blog post “How to Understand Things”. We go through the post’s main points, and talk about our own experiences of learning and understanding things, from school to university to today.
Envy and The Elephant in the Brain
Jul 5 • 93 min
This episode is mostly a discussion of Robin Hanson’s “The Elephant in the Brain”, a book about the ‘hidden motives in everyday lives’. We also go on a long tangent about envy, and our personal experience of it over the years.
How To Convince Your Friend To Start A Blog
Jun 28 • 58 min
In this episode, we explore we often fail to convince our friends to start having an online presence, and what a better approach might be. Possibly applicable to general “convincing” tasks as well.
68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice - Part 2
Jun 22 • 60 min
In this episode, we continue our exploration of Kevin Kelly’s 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice.
Responses to our ‘racism’ episode
Jun 14 • 75 min
In this episode we discuss some of the responses we received to last week’s episode (“Racism, Black Lives Matter, and Figuring Stuff Out”), from hate mail to not-hate mail. Ali also unveils his life plan for the next few years, and Taimur goes on a bit of…
Racism, Social Justice, and Figuring Stuff Out
Jun 7 • 85 min
This week we talk about the Black Lives Matter movement, social justice, and how our towards these issues have changed over the past few years. Please interpret charitably.
Thinking as Children
May 31 • 50 min
We talk about Eric Weinstein’s recent podcast episode with his son, which sparks a discussion about how both of our thinking developed as kids and adults and why we should take kids more seriously.
68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice
May 24 • 58 min
This week, we dig into Kevin Kelly’s recent blog post “68 bits of unsolicited advice”. We go through the list and talk about a bunch of the advices (?) that resonate with us.
Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships
May 17 • 70 min
This episode is Part 3 of 3 in our Transactional Analysis series (make sure you listen to the last 2 episodes before this one!). We dig into many of the different social games that people play: “If It Weren’t For You”, “Why Don’t You — Yes, But”,…
Life Positions & Games - Transactional Analysis Part 2
May 9 • 68 min
In this episode, we continue our discussion about Transactional Analysis. We recap the Parent, Adult and Child zones of thinking that we mentioned last week, and move on to talking about the 4 different Life Positions and the Games People Play.
The Parent, The Adult and The Child - A Discussion of Transactional Analysis
May 3 • 66 min
In this episode, we discuss transactional analysis. Taimur talks us through the ideas behind the theory, and how your internal mind can be split up into three parts - the Parent, Adult, and Child with examples taken from the book I’m Ok, You’re Ok by…
Money, Stories, and Old People
Apr 26 • 60 min
In this episode, we talk about a few different things — how to think about giving money to those in need, whether it’s helpful to view our lives as stories, and how Taimur has been trying to develop more empathy with old people.
Vision, Leadership and Winning the Lottery - An open-ended discussion
Apr 19 • 59 min
In this episode we take a ramble through a number of topics from statistics to value propositions to what we’d do if we won the lottery to Animal Crossing. Enjoy!
The Principles of Productivity
Apr 12 • 61 min
In this episode, we talk about Ali’s favourite thing - productivity - much to Taimur’s joy! Or, more precisely, we talk through the structure and some of the key points from Ali’s upcoming Skillshare class on productivity including Parkinson’s law, the…
Taimur Teaches Maths - The Flaw of Averages
Apr 5 • 48 min
In this episode, Taimur gives us a maths lesson. We learn about why it’s bad to rely on ‘averages’ when making plans, and about how we can make better decisions by accounting for uncertainty. Sorry for the poor audio quality — Taimur had some technical…
Note-taking and quarantining
Mar 29 • 66 min
In this episode, we mostly talk about note-taking — reasons to do it, and different systems and apps to facilitate it. We also talk about how quarantine life is going so far, and how we’re trying to make the most of it.
Not Overthinking: Coronavirus Edition
Mar 22 • 52 min
This week we talk about the only thing there is to talk about right now — the Coronavirus crisis. We look back over the past few weeks to see how our thinking about the virus has changed, and we try and figure out how to get ourselves to emotionally care…
How would you spend your time if you knew you’d die in 2 years?
Mar 15 • 50 min
This week we tackle the conundrum of “how would you spend your time if you knew you’d die in 2 years?” We discuss some of the different ways of framing and thinking about this question, and to what extent it can help figure out what we’re doing with our…
Low Optionality and Adult Friendships
Mar 8 • 36 min
This week we talk about a few topics that Taimur’s been noticing more and more — low social optionality (applied to adult friendships), the plight of kids in society, and treating your personal life like a business. We also touch on the ideology of social…
40 Concepts for Understanding the World - Tweet Discussion
Mar 1 • 59 min
This week we talk about @G_S_Bhogal’s Twitter megathread of “40 powerful concepts for understanding the world”. A whirlwind tour of a bunch of mental models that you may or may not have come across before.
Motivation, Complaining and Conversationality - A Critique of the Podcast
Feb 23 • 57 min
This episode features Calum, a junior doctor working in Scotland who spent 6 years in medical school living with Ali. Calum has listened to every episode of the podcast so far, and shares some critique about the format, the vibe and some specifics about…
Margin, Dinner Parties and The Art of Gathering
Feb 16 • 45 min
In this episode, we continue to discuss the difficulties with recording a podcast each week, which turns into a conversation about margin & keeping afloat vs optimising for the long term. We then talk about a dinner party that Taimur hosted, which turns…
Book Discussion: The Wright Brothers
Feb 2 • 69 min
In this episode, we summarise “The Wright Brothers” by David McCullough. It’s a biography of Wilbur and Orville Wright, best known for inventing the airplane. It contains timeless themes relevant to any and all forms of human endeavour, so in addition to…
Does travel really broaden our horizons?
Jan 26 • 44 min
In this episode (recorded on a car journey, sorry for the audio quality), we discuss the extent to which travelling, and living in different countries for extended time periods, actually broadens our horizons. Our guest Suhail talks about his experiences…
Book Discussion - The Courage to be Disliked
Jan 18 • 54 min
In this episode, we summarise “The Courage to be Disliked” by Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi. It’s one of the very few books that Taimur’s actually read, and the concepts it presents are provocative and go against a lot of the dominant narratives of the…
Words that changed our lives
Jan 12 • 52 min
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…
“Lad” Culture - An Insider’s Perspective
Jan 5 • 62 min
In this episode, we have a guest appearance from Jake, a junior doctor and recovering “lad”. We discuss the meaning of being a “lad”, the experience from inside the group and the feelings of those of us who feel implicitly excluded from boisterous,…
2019: The Not Overthinking Review
Dec 29, 2019 • 88 min
In (by far) our longest episode yet, we look back on 2019. First, we go through the Not Overthinking catalogue — we talk about the episodes that stood out to us (both good and bad!) and our key takeaways from each. Then, we reflect on how 2019 went for us…
Social Interactions - Comfort, Messaging and Life Enjoyment
Dec 22, 2019 • 48 min
In this episode, we discuss our favourite topic - Social Interaction - from the lenses of (1) comfort, (2) etiquettes of messaging and (3) the pinnacle of the human condition. We wonder about the value of a minimalist messaging policy, and try and figure…
How to get rich (without getting lucky) - Tweet Discussion
Dec 15, 2019 • 70 min
In this episode, we discuss a Tweetstorm entitled “How to get rich (without getting lucky)” by Naval Ravikant. We touch on (1) wealth vs money, (2) financial freedom, (3) long-term thinking, (4) leverage, and (5) becoming the best in the world at what you…
External appearances vs internal experiences
Dec 8, 2019 • 50 min
In this episode we talk about the external appearances of different lifestyles and how they differ from the internal experience of living them. We also dig into Ali’s mindset when it comes to YouTube and business, and whether it’s best to always be…
Inner Rings - The Desire to Fit In
Nov 30, 2019 • 52 min
In this episode, we discuss our desire to fit in, to be part of the ‘cool kids’ group, to be part of what CS Lewis calls “The Inner Ring”. We share some instances in our own life when we’ve succumbed to this desire, and discuss whether it’s ever…
Intentional Socialising
Nov 17, 2019 • 55 min
In this episode we talk about how we socialise — the different types of social events we take part in, and how we take part in them. We talk about how we, for the most part, leave our social life down to chance, and we try and find ways to be more…
Being Weird
Nov 10, 2019 • 46 min
In this episode we talk about ‘being weird’. We explore the merits of being weird, the different ways in which people can be weird, and some of our personal experiences.
Conflict and Communication - The Roommate Relationship ft. Molly
Nov 3, 2019 • 59 min
In this episode, Taimur acts as a relationship therapist and digs into the (strictly platonic, for the record) relationship between Ali and his roommate Molly. We discuss our feelings about living with one another, things about Ali that wind Molly up,…
Treating your personal life like a business
Oct 20, 2019 • 45 min
In this episode we talk about a new theory of Taimur’s — that we should treat our personal lives more like businesses, and treat our businesses more personally. We explore two aspects of “business thinking” in particular — valuing time + comparing options…
Small Talk & Social Awkwardness
Oct 13, 2019 • 43 min
In this episode, Ali tells us about a party(!) he recently attended, and how he approached the social interactions there. We talk about how we approach conversations with new people, whether it’s okay to talk about “work” at social events, and, of course,…
Book Discussion: “The Magic of Thinking Big”
Sep 29, 2019 • 48 min
In this episode, we try a brand new format! We go through Ali’s Kindle highlights, from 4 years ago, from the book “The Magic of Thinking Big”. We end up talking about mental restraints, making good conversation, setting goals, and a smattering of other…
Will a new iPhone make us happier?
Sep 22, 2019 • 54 min
In this episode, we try to formulate an algorithm for buying new tech. We try to figure out when it’s worth upgrading our iPhones, and how to think about new purchases in terms of their contribution to our overall happiness. We come up with several new…
Invisible Shackles & Life Scripts
Sep 14, 2019 • 48 min
As we grow, we’re subconsciously exposed to various ‘life scripts’ that can have a profound effect on the way we lead our lives, without any conscious control on our own part. In this episode, we discuss some of the invisible shackles that bind us, and…
What do we want from this podcast?
Sep 8, 2019 • 39 min
In this episode, we reflect on what we’ve been doing for the past 6 months with this podcast. We talk about why we took a break last week, whether we should have an episode every week vs every 2 weeks, and how we should judge the quality of our episodes.
What’s it like to be internet-famous? Ft. Sara Dietschy
Aug 25, 2019 • 49 min
This week we’re joined by a very special guest — Sara Dietschy, tech and creativity Youtuber and podcaster (links in the full show notes). In this episode, Taimur interviews Sara and Ali about being “internet famous” and how they feel about it — getting…
Is being negative ever acceptable?
Aug 18, 2019 • 36 min
In this episode, we discuss whether negativity is ever okay. Taimur discusses why he didn’t like an Ed Sheeran concert we attended, and we try and figure out whether expressing negative views about stuff / complaining about stuff is ever justified, and if…
Birds, Supersonic Jets, Internet Businesses and Trophy Hunting
Aug 11, 2019 • 68 min
Taimur and Ali feature as guests on the Episode Party podcast. Along with hosts Jack and Freddie, we discuss an episode of (1) The Casual Birder, (2) Indie Hackers, (3) Should This Exist, and (4) Radiolab. We share our thoughts on each of these episodes,…
How do we make friends?
Aug 4, 2019 • 46 min
In this episode, we discuss the various strategies we use to make friends. We start at primary school (aged 4) and examine how our tactics for making friends changed over time to the present day. We lament the difficulty of making friends and of showing…
Procrastination, Money-making, Rejection etc - Answering your Questions
Jul 28, 2019 • 25 min
This episode is a Life Advice Q&A that Taimur and Ali did as part of Ali’s 300,000 YouTube subscriber milestone video. We answer questions about startups, procrastination, motivation, productivity, money-making, rejection, investments, imposter syndrome…
Startups, Coding and Making Money Online - An Interview with Taimur
Jul 21, 2019 • 39 min
In this episode, Ali interviews Taimur about his life. We discuss how he learned to code, how he made money online by selling psychic readings, and how he uses Twitter to explore fame and fortune.
How should we give advice?
Jul 14, 2019 • 46 min
In this episode we talk about whether we should give advice to others, and if so, how to go about it. Do we have a moral imperative to offer advice to our friends if we think they’re doing the wrong thing? Or should we simply ‘let it be’?
Is ambition a virtue?
Jul 7, 2019 • 33 min
In this episode, we tackle the issue of ambition. What does it mean to be ambitious? Why do so many of us look for ‘ambition’ in a spouse? Why are some activities considered inherently more ‘ambitious’ than others?
Why do we seek permission?
Jun 30, 2019 • 38 min
In this episode, we address a question from a listener. She wants to become a content creator but is concerned that because she isn’t ‘qualified’, no one will care what she has to say. This turns into a discussion about how society is wired to implicitly…
Ali’s Journey on YouTube [Inbetweenasode]
Jun 23, 2019 • 50 min
This ‘inbetweenasode’ is an interview that Ali did on the Social Colours podcast: ‘Journey of a Creator’. They talk about how he got started with YouTube, the strategy behind growing his channel, and his inspirations along the way. They also share some…
What does it mean to be authentic?
Jun 16, 2019 • 58 min
This week we talk about authenticity — ”keeping it real”. Taimur tries, with difficulty, to explain why he thinks there’s something deeper to authenticity than what everyone already knows and feels: that it’s nice to have authentic interactions with other…
How to deal with Rejection
Jun 9, 2019 • 36 min
This week we talk about rejection. We dig into a rejection that Taimur recently faced, and then explore the various rejections we’ve both faced in our lives — how we felt about them, what we took from them, and how we can improve the way we handle…
How much of our behaviour is status-seeking?
Jun 2, 2019 • 46 min
In this episode, we discuss the concept of social status, and wonder to what extent the signalling of status contributes to our own behaviours. We talk about how our schoolboy days were defined by status games, and think about how we might work to…
How can we get into the habit of reading?
May 26, 2019 • 37 min
This week we discuss the challenges of developing a reading habit. Taimur shares his struggles with starting books and never finishing them, lamenting the small role of reading in his life. Ali offers some advice on how to read more regularly, and we…
Why do we struggle with motivation?
May 19, 2019 • 38 min
This episode is all about motivation. We start by introducing our ideal state of ‘motivation is a myth’ and the idea that discipline is all we *should* need to get stuff done. But then having recognised this, we spend the rest of the episode discussing…
What makes an awkward silence?
May 12, 2019 • 50 min
In this episode, we talk about awkward silences, why we think they happen, how we can stop them happening and whether we should stop them happening at all. We try and understand why we’re more comfortable with some people than others, and why car journeys…
Time management, motivation, productivity etc [Inbetweenasode]
May 5, 2019 • 23 min
In this Inbetweenasode, Ali answers various questions relating to motivation, productivity, time management and that sort of stuff. It’s a bit cheeky because we didn’t record a proper episode, but given the need for consistency, we thought we’d repurpose…
How should we take advice?
Apr 28, 2019 • 32 min
We all love getting advice from our audience, our mentors, our seniors, our listeners. In this episode, we discuss some of the feedback we’ve got about the podcast so far and wonder to what extent we should change things up based on advice. We then…
Why do we love our jobs?
Apr 21, 2019 • 40 min
This is the first episode that features a guest! Paul Tern, a Cambridge-grad junior doctor who works in London, joins the discussion about why we love our jobs. We start off with some meandering around the history of the ‘I want to enjoy my job’…
Why should you invest in a good kitchen bin?
Apr 14, 2019 • 42 min
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.
Why do we struggle with consistency?
Apr 7, 2019 • 37 min
In this episode we discuss how consistency in almost every domain is a super power, and come to a few conclusions about what helps us be more consistent with things like morning routines, gym workouts and writing practices.
Why do we hate networking events?
Mar 31, 2019 • 50 min
In this episode, we discuss why we hate networking events but love group holidays, and we try and figure out how to better connect with our fellow human beings.
Why are we scared to put ourselves out there?
Mar 24, 2019 • 43 min
In this episode, we discuss why we were (once) scared to put ourselves out there and how we overcame that fear. Send us your thoughts —!
Why do we like to be correct?
Mar 16, 2019 • 40 min
In this pilot episode of Not Overthinking, we discuss our reasons for starting the podcast, and then have a chat about why we feel the urge to be correct in everyday conversation.