CChat 96: New Year, New You? Plus Asian American Culture


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We all start off the new year with hopes of becoming a better version of our past selves. Maybe this is the year I will: finish that novel, lose unwanted pounds, or solve world hunger. Maybe not.

How many of us make new year resolutions, but by mid-February have already fallen off the horse? (I prefer horse than wagon. Why? 1. I am the year of the horse. 2. Horses are awesome. 3. I’ve never even been on a wagon, have you?)

I always find it interesting that we humans feel it is necessary to hit the ‘reset’ button at the beginning of the year. O and I discussed some philosophies about this on Episode 20 of Forty Fit-fu. Instead of making a ‘new year resolution’, we encouraged people to define their values, and who they are.

Who am I? Why am I here?

Ok, we don’t need to get that philosophical, but I prefer focusing on what I can control. I can control my thoughts and my actions. (more on this and Stoicism in a bit) On Forty Fit-fu we talked about defining our values: I am a martial artist who will not allow age to hold me back! Hopefully, if I keep telling myself this, it will lead me to practice kung fu more often.

At the end of the day, we all have to practice effective self-talk. I have been guilty of using negative self talk to stay motivated. Although I get results… slowly over time I end up devaluing myself. This also leads to negative thoughts and in the long run is not productive.

We all can use a swift kick in the ass once in a while to get moving, but there is a big difference in negative self talk and motivating self talk. I admittedly am not the best person to give this advice. Here are some examples:


You are a lazy and worthless human being. If you don’t stop wasting time, you will never get anything accomplished, loser.


Stop procrastinating and get working! You are strong, healthy, and productive. Take a moment to breathe, and take it one step at a time.


You are an incredible human being. You are loved and appreciated. You have accomplished many things, and you know you can get this done. I believe in you.

At best, I fall somewhere in the middle. This is something I am working on. No, this isn’t a new year’s resolution. This is an ongoing work in progress. A lot of people ask: How do you get so many things done? My answer: Because I have to.

There is always a yin and yang. There should be a balance.

Expectations can be good and bad. Growing up there was a lot expected of me, so I tried to live up to those expectations, or feel like a failure. Many Asian Americans have shared these feelings with me. [Past Culture Chat: Mike Relm, Ricky Ly]

The Asian American culture is interesting. My parents are immigrants. They are both from countries where they grew up very poor and had to work very hard to get where they are today. They immigrated to the ‘land of opportunity‘ for a better life for themselves, and their children.

On one hand, they want us to have everything they did not. On the other, they want us to work hard and understand hardship. There is such a delicate balance. Ying and yang right?

How do you raise children to understand the meaning of hard work when they grow up in luxury? Luxury can vary by definition, but it’s safe to say many of us here in America are living in luxury.

Teaching my younger students, I try to find that balance. While I think my parents are incredible, I definitely fall into the Asian American stereotype of feeling like no matter what I do, it’s never enough.

Asian Americans are known to be over achievers. Good and bad. Ying and yang. We work hard, get shit done…and get it done well. However, at what cost?

I’ve spoken to many on this subject. Many of my peers have admitted to me they suffer from depression, anxiety, and anger issues. Asians generally do not show their weaknesses. It is not good ‘face’.

I think redefining weak is a good start. As I’ve said before, it is not weak to be vulnerable or have feelings. It is not weak to care about your mental health. I see this as strength.

There is a huge stigma amongst Asian Americans in regards to therapy. I never understood why. We don’t look down on someone who goes to the gym to exercise. Why do we look down on someone who is trying to exercise their mind?

My ongoing read is The Daily Stoic, by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman. O got me this for Christmas. I’ve been enjoying the book which gives a daily quote from famous stoics like Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus, and some interpretation and thoughts on the quote.

I used to define stoicism literally. Able to endure pain without showing emotion or complaining. The word always spoke to me.

Since reading this book, I think of the word a bit differently: Instead of thinking I can control a situation, I focus on controlling how I think about the situation.

What’s next for Culture Chat? Chinese New Year is around the corner, so tune in on February 5 to hear about the most important holiday in China. Questions? Let me know! Next month, I’m excited to chat with some friends and experts on the subject of mental health.

Discussed in this episode:
Why 80 Percent of New Year’s Resolutions Fail
The Daily Stoic, by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman
Forty Fit Fu
Asian American Stigma
Chinese New Year
Dr. Ravi Chandra
Brendon Rearick
Mike Boyle

Host: Mimi Chan
Intro Music: Mike Relm
Editor: Chance Tieng

Disclaimer: I am not a writer. I do not claim to be. I apologize for grammatical mistakes, long drawn out run on sentences, and anything else that drives you crazy. I promise it was not my intention. Be lenient, please!

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