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🔆 Tam's Jam: Breath, Light Therapy, and Giving Up On Your Dreams (June 2021)

Tam Pham
Tam Pham
4 min read

Heyo! 👋

Welcome to another issue of Tam's Jam where I share the most interesting stories and resources I've found to help you live a happier and more meaningful life.

It's summertime here in Toronto and after being one of the longest lockdowns in the world, things are finally looking up. If you are safely able to do so, give a tight hug to a friend this week for me!

Without further ado, let's dive into this month's issue! 🙂

😱 The Opportunity in Giving Up On Your Dreams

We are told at a young age that we can do anything.

But I believe it is impossible, and sometimes unwise, to achieve these goals at any cost. Because the dream that we once thought would make us happy may not be what actually gives us a meaningful life.

This is my newest essay that contrasts the decisions between two UFC fighters: one deciding to retire on his own accord and the other in denial after his friend told him that he was never going to make it and that he should give up before it is too late.

You'll also get to see a photo of baby Tam give up on his dream of being the first Vietnamese basketball player in NBA history.

Read it here and let me know what you think.

👃 Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art

You probably have been breathing wrong your entire life.

But once you change how you breathe, you can change your life. You will live longer, sleep better, reduce, lose weight, improve performance, and so much more.

This isn't another meditation book. The author, James Nestor, argues convincingly that your breath is so important that your life depends on you paying attention.

Breath was a wake-up call to be even more conscious of my breath. I learned that what we eat, how much we work out, and what genes we were born with won't matter unless we’re breathing correctly.


The author backs this all up with science, research, and weaves in vulnerable stories of his struggle to breathe properly. Here's a very high-level summary of how we should breathe:

  • Breathing through your mouth is surprisingly dangerous. Breathing in through your nose is ideal.
  • To breathe better, breathe less rather than more. Taking longer and deeper breaths is more efficient and less tiring for your lungs.
  • The optimum amount of air we should take in at rest per minute is 5.5 liters. The optimum breathing rate is about 5.5 breaths per minute. That’s 5.5-second inhales and 5.5-second exhales. This is the perfect breath.

Start by just noticing how you breathe normally. Once you pay attention, you become more aware of your unconscious breath.

If you want to improve how you breathe, the easiest way to start doing breathwork. There are free guided sessions on YouTube like this one. My friend Robbie recently created Inward, which is like a Headspace but for Breathwork, that you can get a free trial here.

If you want to go to the author's extreme, you can consider taping your mouth (yes, you've read that right) while sleeping to practice breathing through your nose. Any hypoallergenic tape would do.

🔆 Light Therapy

I've also discovered how much more beneficial light is to your physical and mental health than I had initially thought. (Credit to Justin Mares' recent newsletter)

"We live most of our lives indoors, and modern buildings filter out much of the sun’s natural light spectrum. For example, standard windows block nearly 100% of UV-B and UV-C light, and typical indoor environments have only about 1% of the brightness of an outdoor environment.
And our indoor lifestyles are messing with our circadian rhythms... Between lots of unnatural light exposure, 24-7 access to food, and lack of physical activity, it’s easy for your circadian rhythms to get thrown off. And when your circadian rhythms get thrown off, it can have all kinds of health consequences. One study found that simply exposing someone to bright morning light helped treat insomnia."

What can you do with this info?

  1. Turn off screens 1-2 hours before you sleep
  2. Go for a walk outside right when you wake up
  3. Switch your activities outdoors as much as possible (walking meetings instead of Zoom meetings, etc.)

I've been more motivated to add these habits to my routine. My sleep has been so much better and I have generally been in a better mood. It could also be that the sun is finally shining here in Toronto. ☀️

😌 Stoicism's Simple Secret To Being Happier

In the spirit of giving up on your dreams, this video from author Ryan Holiday is a great introduction if you are brand new to Stoic philosophy. I rewatch this from time to time to better internalize some of their teachings on desire, control, and presence.

🤠 Below the Fold

  • 🍰  My good friend, Candace Wu, recently launched Eat Wunder, a delicious low-carb cheesecake that has sold impressively well so far. Outside of her amazing baking skills, I've learned so much about authentic storytelling when I see a new project she ships. Bravo!
  • 👩‍💻  A very relatable video on working during the pandemic by comedian Alexis Gray.
  • 👀  Last month's most read: how the f*ck do i take care of myself?

🙂 Final Thoughts

My hope with Tam's Jam is that you (1) learn something useful and (2) live a happier and more meaningful life.

If you dug this, I'd love it if you shared this issue with a friend. You can forward this email or send them here to sign up for the next edition.

As always, let me know what you're reading (or watching). I'll share my favorites in the next issue of Tam's Jam.

With gratitude,


Tam's Jam

Tam Pham Twitter

I'm a writer and bachata dancer currently bouncing around Latin America. Trying to make the most out of my one wild and precious life.

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