THIS IS ISSUE.007 OF THE SMRT LIST
A lot has happened in the last month. I learn from seeing what I DON’T want to happen to me. From conventional white-picket-fence, self-taught programmer nerd-life, to my glam life in Beverly Hills, and the complete opposite “gangster” life (it was fun, okay), I have literally seen and “lived” it all.
I created this newsletter because I wanted to find like-minded people— people who LOVE life, not afraid to run towards fears, live unapologetically, and don’t pretend to be someone they’re not. I talk openly about my life because I have nothing to hide and give zero fucks about what anyone thinks of me.
I’m still a work in progress but to be better, you have to be in the right environment and state of mind.
Walk the talk.
My BF and I talk a lot about consistency. It’s also important to stick to your values NO MATTER WHAT. When you say one thing and do another, you break trust because our brains recognize patterns. You broke the pattern. Patterns break when people lose confidence in themselves.
Also because we talk about hard truths, we have to be able to take the hard shit (criticism, conversations, truths, emotions, challenges, etc).
This begins with the life-long process of building grit.
I began drafting this newsletter on a day when I woke up feeling tired, groggy, and unmotivated. This is NOT me because I usually wake up excited to start my day with a sharp and clear mind. I literally go to bed every night excited to wake up to another day— well, try to at least!
I recognized this as a sign of burnout but instead of “taking the day off” (a benefit of working for yourself), I reframed it as my “Creativity Day”— a day where I relax, go with the flow, and do things and consume content purely for creativity.
No pressure. It’s a form of active recovery.
Sure, I have client obligations but I can push those off until later after my brain has rested.
🧠 Over the past couple of years, I’ve been obsessed with learning everything about the brain because the future is being able to MANAGE YOUR MIND.
In this newsletter, I am going to teach you how to LIVE EFFORTLESSLY and get over these humps because let’s face it, our resilience is dropping to all-time lows resulting in:
- You can’t control your mood swings.
- You are becoming increasingly impatient and picky.
- You can’t control the negative ruminating thoughts in your head.
- You play victim and blame others because you don’t have the cognitive strength to take accountability, and own up to the harsh fact you’re the only common denominator in your shitty life.
- You and your partner aren’t having sex anymore.
- You brush things under the carpet pretending everything is okay when it’s not, so you numb with that
glassbottle of wine every night after work.
I’ve been on the go for a while, literally not doing anything but WORK + EXERCISE and I immediately recognized the sign of burnout because the last couple of weeks when I was facing immense stress, I found myself playing victim and caught in a cycle of negative self-talk.
I hate it when people play victim.
I caught myself and made a CHOICE to stop it. I hate disappointing myself and I will do whatever it takes to avoid it.
As I get older, I am extremely proactive about active recovery.
Work hard. Play harder. Recover hardest.
Because I live life this way, when things happen, I don’t see them as challenges, just an opportunity for growth. Perhaps missing a part of my amygdala, I rarely feel scared or hesitant— I always know exactly what I need to do from years and years of training, and believing in myself.
I’ve been faced with many mental challenges but I welcome adversity because I’m kinda obsessed with personal growth and reframing. Some days I question if I attract all this adversity in my life— but it’s not “hard” because life is all about perception!
You can do “train your mind” to do anything you want it to— it just takes consistency and practice. 🤞🏼
What Is An Effortless Life?
An “effortless” lifestyle means being able to weather storms effortlessly.
When life poops on you, you’re able to pivot and adapt because your mind works differently than the average Joe.
We embrace the flow of life, learn how to detach from outcomes, and stop resisting triggers.
We spend more time on the edge of potential more than in our “safe space”.
Life is hard right now— people are quiet quitting, stocks are dropping, the crypto space is imploding, layoffs are everywhere, relationships are crumbling, people are stuck in trauma cycles and numbing with drugs and alcohol, teenagers are begging for sleeping pills… and we reinforce the idea that this is okay by pretending that everything is alright.
Unfortunately, life will never get easier but some people noticeably weather these storms with more grace than others. Have you ever wondered why?
Some heal much faster than others.
Some people are never able to step out of their comfort zone.
Some people stay stuck for years, even decades.
I know people with “similar traumas” but deal with life differently— epigenetics, environment— too many factors to consider.
But our environment can control gene expression so being stuck is a choice.
I promised I will never ”stay stuck” and do whatever it takes to heal when my body shut down in the fall of 2020. I am so passionate about trauma because I saw someone I loved literally waste their life away with one bad decision after another for 3 years, and it was painful and traumatic knowing you were absolutely powerless to help them.
You can’t save anyone until they’re ready to save themselves.
Why People Stay Stuck
This is the result of a lack of grit, resilience, and mental toughness—
- It’s the language you tell yourself: Stop bitching and complaining to your friends and do something about it. Stop telling yourself life is hard because your brain is listening to everything you say and think. Next time you find yourself getting stuck in this victim mindset, catch yourself, and remind yourself that “life happens for me, not to me.”
- You are surrounded by people going through problems and telling you “it’s okay as long as you are happy.” No darling, it’s not okay to pretend things are fine when they’re not. That’s called toxic positivity.
Chronic anxiety is a sign your life needs to change ASAP otherwise it’s going to manifest itself into a physical illness as you marinate in stress hormones. Be real with your emotions and talk with a professional, not others who are stuck and doing nothing about it.
- Your friends don’t have an opinion. Some people try to stay “neutral” to avoid conflict but if your friend is heading to a dark place, your advice is not helping. To make it worse, since our minds are wired to search for safety, they will keep on coming to you to validate their opinions. Recognize this and get your friends the help they need. You’re going to get some flack for saying what’s on your mind because hard truths hurt. But sometimes it’s needed.
- Some people seem to be stuck in a neverending loop of trauma healing— because they unconsciously keep themselves in it. For example, instead of reading books on the future self they want to become, they are still reading books about “overcoming and understanding trauma” four years later. That’s how you keep yourself stuck— you still believe you are hurt.
Overcoming adversity is a choice.
How fast you do it is a choice.
Neurologically, your brain doesn’t know what’s real or imagined so to overcome tragedy or reach a goal, you have to embody all the emotions of that achievement as if it’s already happening, and your brain will reverse-engineer and signal your genes ahead of the environment. Of course, you need to go on a much deeper dive to understand, and I recommend the works of Dr. Joe Dispenza.
5 Ways To Build An Effortless Lifestyle
1. Be obsessed with your brain.
Ever since I learned about neuroplasticity, I was blown away at how having this awareness gives us a biological advantage… but why isn’t everyone doing it?! Oh yes, we live in a society of snowflakes. ☹️
Because our focus is narrowed, we get lost in our own problems, not giving our precious brains “space”— the magic ingredient it needs to help you see life in a new perspective so you use your biology to your advantage.
How To Level Up Your Brain:
Start with learning and embracing boredom.
Boredom is actually a biological strategy to get us to “do stuff” and come up with divergent solutions because a bored mind is a creative mind.
When you sit there and stare at the clouds or walk without music, stare at a wall for 20 minutes (I dare you to try it), you are turning off the “default mode network” of your brain, our neutral resting state which constantly processes your internal and external world as a survival mechanism.
The DMN is also linked to mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
When your DMN is off, you activate an “unfocused” mode that promotes inward mind-wandering that restores your brain to work better and more efficiently. You are giving your brain “space” to rest, tap into creativity, and process critical information.
This frees your mind up for more productive things including creative solutions to life’s lousy problems.
2. Be obsessed with discomfort.
We are wired for comfort because familiarity means survival but our lives are way too easy so this method no longer serves us. We lack the real stress that our ancestors faced— constant hunger and being mauled by bears.
The paradox is minor stress is good for our brain but we distract ourselves with phones, alcohol, and staying busy instead of facing it.
You reach for food because you’re bored, not because you’re hungry.
You can’t sit still because you are afraid of being alone with your mind.
When we are constantly trying to stay ‘busy and distracted’ to prevent the horrifying idea of sitting alone with our thoughts, we are reaching near-crisis levels of mental fatigue driving us to find things that make us feel comfortable but will kill us off in the long run:
- Stuffing yourself with over-processed foods because it’s easier than taking the time to learn about nutrition.
- Your lifestyle means jumping from your climate-controlled home to your car to work— afraid of cold winters and wet weather.
- Wanting to move to a tropical island because you get the “winter blues” (which can be fixed with lifestyle shifts).
- Having everything delivered to your door so you never have to leave your stuffy apartment as you suffocate in stale air.
- Not exercising because you don’t want to feel “tired”.
- Having friends who agree with every word you say so you’re still the same stagnant person you were a year ago.
How To Get Uncomfortable:
- Create your own challenges. To explore the edge of your potential, you need to escape your ultra-comfortable life. It’s going to suck but you’re going to have to stop making excuses and force yourself to.
Go for a run in the freezing cold. Ride your bike by yourself if you’ve never done it before. Eat at a restaurant alone. Stop doing the same things you were doing yesterday and the day before. Also, stop making excuses that you’re too tired or too busy because we all know that’s just made-up BS and a lack of priorities.
- Instead of opposing the flow, go with the flow. When someone triggers us, our first instinct is to run away or get mad at that person but try to stick around. When someone intimidates you, ask yourself, “what does this person have that I want?”
The hard truth is we only get intimidated because our brain is trying to protect us from feeling the pain of something we lack and desire.
Maybe that person is more confident, pretty, wealthier, and healthier than you. Stop running away and learn from that person instead. We are ALL on different parts of the journey. I was first “intimidated” by many people in my life but I admire them because I want to learn.
- Find opportunity in adversity. When you have to solve a problem, focus on what you need to change instead of what you’re lacking. This forces you to do things out of the ordinary.
3. Be obsessed with your environment.
Structure determines behavior.
If you want to become a strong person and you surround yourself with people who agree with everything you say and validate all your opinions, you are going to stay weak because real friends question and challenge you.
Real friends recognize your blind spots and call you out.
I learned this analogy from cycling— to be a stronger and faster cyclist, you ride with people who are better than you. It can be intimidating but I learned to overcome that very early on when I started doing Crossfit.
In February 2016, I moved to LA with “winter-legz” from Vancouver, joined a cycling club, rode with guys way above my level, and died trying to keep up with them. My thing was hanging for dear life behind the cat X-racey guys— never a part of the A group, and too fast for the B group. But I got my “climbing legs” back in a couple of weeks!
Lesson: do 💩 that intimidates you. Create your opportunities instead of waiting for them to come.
How To Set Your Environment Up For Success:
- Ruthlessly audit everything around you: friends you see often, books you read, foods you eat, music you listen to, what shows up in your social feeds, and the words you say to yourself. Do they help you grow, keep you the same, or hold you back?
- Ruthlessly eliminate distractions. People are going to talk shit about you when they feel “left behind”. You’re going to feel imposter syndrome (like everyone else). You may feel the urge to pivot when you see someone else’s success. Ignore everything and STAY ON PATH. Use that as a mantra.
- Apply the Pareto Principle: 80% of my friends and acquaintances are equal, better than me, or have traits that I admire and desire. The remaining 20% are people still learning and striving (no judgment). Don’t feel bad because we all have to start somewhere, and those with a growth mindset won’t get offended and find their own people because they understand they are responsible for their life, not you.
4. Be obsessed with action.
Life seems hard when you think the world is against you.
It may feel that way because you’re sitting on the sidelines playing victim.
Instead, start creating your opportunities instead of waiting for things to happen to you.
Go out there and make shit happen because NO ONE is coming to save you but yourself.
How To Start Taking Action:
- Be in the right state of mind to be in the right place at the right time. Luck plays a huge role in success but lucky people are simply more present. For example, if you leave a $100 dollar bill on the ground, most people won’t see it because they’re rushing from place to place. Those who intentionally slow and become in tune with their surroundings may pick it up because they are present enough to notice it.
- Use mantras. This is what I did. I used to say to myself “JUST DO IT” before I started doing Crossfit WODs that left you puking and making out with the floor. Over time, I rewired my brain to stop overthinking and hesitating— this was the first time I experienced neuroplasticity working for me. It’s simple but takes courage + consistency. Try it!
- Know that no one cares about you because they’re too worried about themselves. Most people hold back because they’re scared of what other people think about them. Try this thought experiment: if YOU don’t care what other people are doing, do you think they’d care about you?! On the other hand, if you do care, then you’re just judgemental. Stop it. 😬
5. Be obsessed with your behaviours.
People don’t decide their futures. They decide their habits. Their habits decide their futures.
This starts with building habits.
People are more successful because they have better habits. They get up early to exercise instead of snoozing their alarm. They read books instead of mindlessly scrolling. They talk about ideas, not gossip and people.
People are leaner and keep off weight because they’re more likely to go for a walk than reach for a donut when they’re stressed. Research shows uncontrollable factors like metabolic dysfunction are exceedingly rare. Science says genes may play a role in obesity but science also says lifestyle can modify epigenetic patterns.
The hardest thing to change is our behaviors— habits— some ingrained so deeply since we were born. It’s kinda scary and overwhelming knowing you may have to undo decades of wiring in your brain… but it’s not impossible!
Here are some habits I’ve successfully created just in the last 2 years:
- Eating dinner earlier (moved it from 9pm or later to 6pm!). My body became used to eating later dinners so I wouldn’t get hungry until 9pm which is also terrible for sleep.
- Completely eliminated the desire to snack late at night and eat junk food in general. I did this by:
- Eating a large, nutritious, savory breakfast.
- Make sure I get enough protein throughout the day.
- Bringing into awareness the reason why I was desiring food at night (related to past traumas).
- Eating mindfully without phones, books, or podcasts. I use to eat and multi-task— but now when I eat, I only eat.
- Completely eliminated wasting time on my phone. Got so good at this, I usually have zero desire to check my phone. Only use it to take photos or check important messages.
- Not checking my phone first thing when I wake up in the morning.
- No more mindless scrolling on social media. I have zero desire to use IG these days (but do spend most of my time on LinkedIn).
- Curating all my social feeds so I only see things that help me grow and align with my values: fitness, nutrition, business and psychology tips. Not gonna lie but I don’t care about someone stranger’s kid or an #OOTD post. I am interested in seeing how you organize your fridge and pantry though! 👀
- Rarely drink or have a desire to. I have the biggest FOMO when I don’t have a clear mind the next day from a night of drinking!
- Meditation. Every single day, sometimes multiple times per day! The BEST thing that has happened to me is how to control my brain states.
- Journaling/writing every day.
- Exercising daily. Not new, since I’ve been doing this since 2007.
Habits I’m working on:
- Sleeping and waking up at a consistent time.
- Not drinking coffee 1.5hrs after waking to prevent cortisol spike.
- Not drinking coffee on an empty stomach.
How did I successfully create new habits?
I literally became obsessed and fascinated with neuroplasticity, and wanted to experiment on myself. I had so much intent and I never doubted myself. More on habits another time. 🌱
TL;DR: 5 Ways To Create An Effortless Life
- Be obsessed with your brain.
- Be obsessed with discomfort
- Be obsessed with your behaviours.
- Be obsessed with your environment.
- Be obsessed with action.
Be obsessed or be average. Stay obsessed my friends. 🤞🏼
Curiosity Is The New Intelligence
- Huge fan of nutrition (I’m a Holistic Nutritionist), have been following biolayne for years, and have a secret crush on Dr. Huberman (don’t tell my BF!).
- Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) – calories burnt as we go above our daily business. Do you have friends who can never seem to sit still? 🙋🏻♀️ I get mine from my dad who we use to call translated from Chinese: “spare rib dad”. He was always SUPER lean. I noticed that all my fidgety or high-strung friends are naturally lean while the ones who move or think slower hold onto more weight. No judgment, just an observation. It’s an unconscious habit but depending on your phenotype, you can burn significantly more calories from NEAT.
- Most importantly, they discuss nuances in the nutrition space.
- Eat your fiber!! It drives me crazy when I see people eat either ALL carbs or ALL protein and a single piece of bok choy or broccoli.
🔊 Finding Mastery: Dr. Mona Sobhani: Can Science and Spirituality Coexist?
- Dr. Sobhani used to be a hard-nosed, skeptical scientist. She’s the epitome of a growth mindset because we change as we experience life.
- Her personal mantra: radical curiosity— something I think ALL doctors and scientists need to embrace and shed their egoic identity tied to their “high education”
- The best healers are the ones who went through a life-changing event themselves. Even from my experience, you can’t understand what it means to lose your health until it happens to you. If you find a doctor who has actually recovered from an overwhelming illness, you’re lucky because they are usually the most open-minded.
- Touch-based on “woohoo” topics such as remote viewing. I’ve seen things I can’t understand— life is much better when you have an open mind.
- I LOVE listening to Peter Diamandis speak.
- Having a purpose-driven life, low stress, meditation, better sleep, lean muscle, strong relationships, and exercise. Please fucking exercise. 😊 It’s the best thing you can do for longevity and brain health.
- Where did you inherit your mindset and beliefs? Parents, school, friends? Who are your most positive, healthiest friends?
- Technology is growing exponentially. Embody an EXPONENTIAL MINDSET. You invite friends over and don’t have enough pies— “I will bake more pies” (abundant) rather than worry about the lack of pies (scarcity).
- Moonshot Mindset— The first principle of thinking: things don’t work efficiently so reinvent the model (eg. Elon Musk).
- Tips from my grandma who lived until 103: see the good in everything and “you are the creator of your own life”— never depend on anyone or anything. 🙏🏼
🔊 Huberman Labs: How Meditation Works & Science-Based Effective Meditations
- Waiting for this for a long time. I taught myself many things I know to this day because knowledge is motivation. Once you understand the mechanism and science, life gets easier and more exciting.
- If you’re not meditating, you’re falling behind. 🙃 It’s accessible, free, and the #1 thing you can do to level up your life.
⏱ Current: How To Future-Proof Yourself For A Recession
🥑 Health: Is Having Too Many Choices Really the Greater Problem for Consumers? 👉🏼 Me last night as I was staring at a wall of tampons at the drug store while dealing with immense stress from life and the hormonal rollercoaster of my period.
🧬 Science: Is our Universe a hologram? 👉🏼 Watched 1899 on Netflix. Best. Show. Ever.
🔮 Future: 7 Ways to Find Radical Alignment
⌛️ Past: The Clash Of Two Gilded Ages 👉🏼 fascinating parallels between China and the USA