Stretch often. As we get older, our bodies require more maintenance. Your body is like a machine, and stretching is like adding lubrication so the gears can run more smoothly. I personally try to do a full-body stretch at least one every other day, as this keeps my muscles loose and releases any built-up tension.
Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?
As a part of our series about “How We Can Do To Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewingDickson Lam.
EFFYDESK is a startup based in Vancouver, BC, that is dedicated to promoting and selling ergo-minded products. Dickson Lam, founder of the company, believes that there is no greater investment than in ones physical and mental health. Today, we’re going to get an inside look at how Dickson from EFFYDESK cultivates his mental, physical, emotional & spiritual wellbeing.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up with a brother who is 4 years my senior. As older brothers do, he tended to pick on me and tease me when we played games as kids. I think this is what brought out a competitive streak in me. As I grew up, my brother became a motivation for me to get stronger and better at any of our activities, whether it was our wrestling matches, school grades, or video games. My competitive nature prompted me to do my own research to see how I could build lasting results on both a physical and mental level. I quickly learned that I couldn’t improve myself in just one way and not others — physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health all work hand-in-hand. This inspired me to model myself after a pattern of holistic wellness. The more I read, the more I realize that life is a never-ending learning process of fortifying yourself in every way, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
Since I was young, I had issues with my back which turned out to be caused by a herniated disk. If I was sitting or standing for too long, my lower back would start aching, and this really affected me at work and at home. I struggled with back pain until three years ago, when my office made a radical change. We were introduced to adjustable sit-stand desks, and this was an absolute game changer for me and my back. The ability to switch between sitting and standing whenever I wanted helped me build a stronger, healthier back, and I wanted to help others who were suffering and struggling with the same issue as me. From there, I quit my job and started EFFYDESK. The rest is history.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
My mother is my biggest supporter and cheerleader. Parents don’t usually encourage their kids to take risks, quit their day jobs, and pursue their dreams, but mine did! I had shared with her my plan to quit my job and travel Asia for 6 months to make new connections and meet suppliers. As a businesswoman herself, she knew how fulfilling this experience would be for me, as she understood how it felt to be a young entrepreneur with the world before them. She’s always been my biggest supporter since the beginning, and continues to encourage me today.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
Recently, we received a large amount of desks at our EFFYDESK warehouse. I didn’t realize just how many pallets we had ordered, and there were a lot more than I thought there would be! Our warehouse didn’t have enough room to store all these pallets, so we needed to find somewhere else to put all these pallets. We ran to Home Depot, purchased a giant tent, set it up in our parking lot. After 13 hours of assembling this tent and putting it all together, we were able to store over 100 pallets in our parking lot.
This mistake taught me to always check in with our warehouse workers before big influxes of inventory come in — that way, we won’t find ourselves frantically building tents again!
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I’m sure dozens of people have mentioned The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, but it’s really an amazing book. This book taught me to stay in the present. It helped me separate myself from my ego, and guided me through my emotions and why I felt them. I learned to question my unwarranted feelings. This book was definitely a catalyst in my decision to live a more spiritual life. I strive to stay present as I work towards self-actualization.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”
― Dale Carnegie
Life is all about perspective. You could have money, fame, love, health, respect, power, everything — and you could still be miserable. And yet some people who have absolutely nothing can still be happy with life. They appreciate being able to breathe and eat and live. Your brain can be very self-destructive when left alone to its own thoughts. It’s important to be grateful for your life, no matter who you are or what you’re doing. Step back and appreciate your life, and see how far you’ve come.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
EFFYDESK is currently working on a collaboration with Chopvalue, a microfactory in Vancouver, BC, that recycles chopsticks and turns them into everyday household products such as tabletops, coasters, monitor holders, and more.
We’re excited to launch our Chopvalue X EFFYDESK electric sit-stand desks in mid-February 2021. Each tabletop is made up of about 10,000 chopsticks, and the resulting material is considered “solid wood.” It’s twice as durable and strong as oak and maple tabletops, but it’s also 100% recyclable and environmentally friendly! This line of tabletops are climate positive and carbon negative.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness. Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
- Keep your body strong. Find a combination of muscle-building and cardiovascular exercises that works for you. If your body isn’t getting stronger, it’s getting weaker by default! A strong body helps to keep your mind sharp for desk work and tasks that require focus. For example, I do compound lifting for 50 minutes 3 times a week, and run for 30 minutes twice a week. This helps me keep my physical body strong as I deal with more mentally challenging tasks at work.
- Sleep at least 7 hours a night. As you work and improve yourself, you need time for your body to recover in between in order to reap the full benefits. Taking breaks helps me to prevent burnout, and getting a full night’s rest gives me energy to press on the next day.
- Read, read read. The world is so full of knowledge — thousands and thousands of years’ worth of it! Experiences and advice have been crammed into books that are so accessible to use today. Even just reading and researching on the internet is such an easy way for us to take advantage of all the information that’s so readily available to us.
Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it.
I used to go to a Yoga studio once a week, but since the pandemic closed the studios, I haven’t been able to. I love Yoga, as it feels like I’m connecting my lungs, mind, and body together. Going through the different poses helps me to unify different aspects of my life in these simple, mindful movements. I do at least 10 minutes of meditation every day, as this keeps my stress levels down and sharpens my daily decision-making.
Thank you for that. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
- Start an exercise routine. Every day, whether it’s before or after work, set aside 30–60 minutes of time for physical activity. This can be yoga, weightlifting, or even a walk around the block. Just make sure you stick with it!
- Go to bed at a consistent time every night. If you get to bed before midnight every night, your body will thank you! Getting to bed at the same time helps your body get used to a routine, making it easier for you to fall asleep and wake up in the morning.
- Stretch often. As we get older, our bodies require more maintenance. Your body is like a machine, and stretching is like adding lubrication so the gears can run more smoothly. I personally try to do a full-body stretch at least one every other day, as this keeps my muscles loose and releases any built-up tension.
Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
I live by the standard of “everything in moderation.” Eating snacks is fine — but in moderation! Keep a good balance between “junk” foods and other healthier options. Of course, this is easier said than done! Many people struggle to keep their diets in check. Sometimes they have trouble sticking to a schedule, they don’t have time to deal with it, or they simply can’t be bothered.
The key to healthy eating is back to the same principle of routine. Once you make mindful eating a part of your regular schedule, you’ll find it’s much easier to keep in check. If you consistently add that extra portion of veggies and fruits into your last meal of the day, soon it’ll become a habit for you. Make time to meal-prep or cook every week, as a routine can stop you from deciding to pick up fast food because you didn’t have time to cook.
In a time full of variables and changes, setting a routine for ourselves will help our bodies cope with the constant changing situations!
Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
- Journal your thoughts. This helps me to recognize my emotions throughout the day, and process them after they’ve happened. If I was upset, journaling can help me realize that this moody feeling began when I was cut off while I was driving to work. Journaling gives me a fresh perspective on my situations and my emotions, and makes me really happy to be where I am today. I also journal to write down things that I’m grateful for, accomplishments I’m proud of, and goals that I am working towards. This helps me to stay focused as well as appreciate how far I’ve come in my journey. Every night I rate my day on a scale from 1–10, and this allows me to recognize bad days when they happen and learn to improve them.
- Meditate. This helps to reset your mind and emotions while giving your mind a break from the busy life. Meditating turns the world’s volume down so you can focus on your own thoughts and see them more clearly. I set aside at least 10 minutes of time every morning to meditate. This helps me to control my stress levels and clear the brain fog. I notice that I have an easier time making decisions when I meditate in the morning.
- Take breaks often. Though you might want to put 24/7 work into a project, you’ll burn out if you run yourself like that. Take weekends off completely if possible, and give yourself time to rest and reset. If you’re grinding away at a project during the week, use the weekend off to sharpen your knives so you can be nice and sharp for work on Monday. Not everyone has the luxury of taking the weekends off, but as far as possible, schedule some rest & relaxation time for yourself. You’ll be far more productive if your mind is relaxed and at ease at work.
Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.
I’m really glad you brought this up! I’ve used this method right before stressful situations like presentations or big meetings. Smiling, even to myself, helps me manage my stress levels instantly, and any jitters I have usually disappear quickly. I think smiling is a quick and easy hack you can use to boost your mood and change your perception of a stressful situation.
Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.
- Learning. Most people start their spiritual journey by reading. I think Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now, is a great starting point for beginning a path of mindfulness. Eckhart’s description of feelings and thoughts are easy for even beginners to understand. This was the first book I read, and it was recommended to me by a friend. I still read a few pages here and there today, and keep it handy as a reminder to me to be more present.
- Practice. Learning information in your head is great, but it means nothing if you can’t apply it practically. Getting hands-on with your spiritual practices is just as important as learning. Dedicate time to integrate practices into your everyday life. For example, my mindfulness practices are very helpful for me when I’m in a bad mood. I take a moment to step back and try to understand if these feelings are warranted, and I can take this as an opportunity to learn more about myself for the future.
- Connect: Leading a spiritual life is difficult when you’re bogged down with negative media flooding your feeds every day. Reach out to your peers or your community to find like-minded individuals with similar spiritual goals as you. Encouraging each other is a great way to build lasting relationships and maintain spiritual wellness in uncertain times.
Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?
I’m extremely lucky to live where I do, as I live just an hour’s drive away from the gorgeous mountains of British Columbia. Every time I take a drive up, I’m able to stare at the awe-inspiring landscapes and capture the macro views with a blank mind and absorb the beauty of nature. I feel so much more grounded and connected to the earth, separated both physically and mentally from the hustle and bustle of the city life. I can’t fully describe this experience in words, but I think everyone should chase that feeling!
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
As we’ve been talking about holistic wellness, I think it’s important to also discuss mental health, separate from wellness. Mental health isn’t talked about nearly as much as physical health, and I think people need to know just how much this affects their everyday life. I’d really like to promote more mental health awareness in my industry. EFFYDESK office accessories aren’t just about relieving physical pain, but about promoting a stress-free environment as well. As people work at a desk, it’s important to prioritize mental health, especially in periods of crisis and stress.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
I would love to have a meal with Eckhart Tolle. I’ve learned so much from his teaching and his practices. I want to chat with him on a more personal level so I can really pick his brain to find out what he thinks of certain topics. He has such an amazing grasp of spiritual wellness!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Visit our website, we have blogs every week https://effydesk.ca/blogs/news
And follow us on instagram and facebook @effydesk
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.