Better living through overthinking

Hi, I’m David, and I overthink things.

Specifically, I think slightly more than seems reasonable about stuff that people treat as obvious and isn’t, as part of trying to figure out how life works and make it work better for me. It’s a place where I figure out and explain to others all the things that I wish someone had written a clear guide that I could have used in the first place so I didn’t have to write it myself.

The result is some mix of between therapy, problem solving, philosophy, and general commentary.

If you want some fairly representative examples:

  • Labelling Feelings 101 is an introduction to some basic therapy skills, starting from the question “How do you actually know what you’re feeling?”. I try to explain how emotions work and how to understand your own.

  • A Fractal of Lies is about how much of the reported facts about how the world works are built on straight up lies. e.g. people lying to managers, who in turn lie to researchers, who in turn commit academic fraud.

  • Intellectual DIY describes my whole approach to knowledge, which shows up again and again writing this newsletter. We construct our understanding of the world piecemeal, like someone maintaining a workshop of tools and spare parts, and use this to navigate our lives. A lot of my focus is on how to do this well.

  • How to do everything takes you through a series of skills and shows how often there are small insights that we are lacking which are the current blocks to progress, and that it’s worth spending time trying to figure out what these are.

  • You should complain about it explains the role of complaining in social groups with shared problems, and why it’s a much more positive and important force than people treat it as, why to do it more, and how to do it better.

  • Learning to walk through walls is about noticing when the constraints you’re operating under aren’t real and you don’t have to follow them. It’s also a little bit about introducing new constraints in order to learn to do things better.

  • My (no-longer-)secret magical practice is about the idiosyncratic theory of personal development I use based on that, which consists of creating (generally entirely mundane and lacking in any spiritual content) “spells” which produce some useful effect.

Any plenty more like this besides.

Most of this is available for free. I’m currently experimenting with turning paid subscriptions back on, but at present there isn’t much paid-only content. I’d be delighted if you wanted to pay anyway of course, and I’ll do my best to make sure it’s worth your while eventually, but it’s important to me that most of the actually useful material I write is shareable with a broad audience.

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Miscellaneous thoughts as I figure out life