February 20th 2016: Thought of the Day

download.jpeg

While I was waiting in the lobby before the shuttle came to take us back to the airport, I was having an in depth discussion with one of my roommates (who is currently a medical student) about various medical topics. I asked him about the difference between Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBD is an autoimmune disorder that affects your digestive organs with a clear biological origin, while IBS is a constellations of symptoms; however there is not clear biological evidence of the pathophysiology.

There is contention about whether IBS is real or simply a figment of the patient’s mind. While the content of this argument may not seem important to you, the underlying misconception that created this argument is!

It is not that something is just in your mind. The demarcation between the body and mind is an illusory distinction made by us that allows healthcare professionals to begin to organize and better understand the never ending complexity that human beings are. Therefore, something is never just in your mind because your body reflects what you are thinking. Conversely, your body influences and shapes your mind and emotions. This is why stress is an underlying factor in almost every disease known to man. So if you are not able to evolve your nervous system (read more) and learn to appropriately deal stress, disease will be your constant companion.

I was then discussing my thoughts about the session I went to, on nutritional influences on rheumatoid arthritis, and found the lack of internal consistency with some of the recommendations disconcerting. This transitioned into a discussion about how although the study of disease is hopelessly complicated, the study of health is a lot simpler than we make it out to be. If you model what others have done to remain healthy and vibrant well into advanced ages and attune it to your body, you will be fine.

One aspect that we feel is greatly under appreciated is the importance of having fun, and fostering meaningful relationships with family and friends. Especially for a type A person like myself, I have trouble with finding balance and enjoying the process instead of just being hell bent on achieving my end.

If you are serious about becoming the best you can be, it is absolutely essentially to mark out time in your calendar at least once a week to do something for the pure joy! You may argue that you do not have time for fun, but you do not have time to not have fun. Saying you do not have time to have fun is like saying you do not have time to fill up the gas in your car. Eventually it will catch up with you.

Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,

Pavan Mehat

PS Here are a couple of ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.

Pavan Mehat’s LinkedIn

Pavan Mehat’s Instagram

February 19th 2016:Thought of the Day

I feel a bit demoralized when my posts such as February 18th 2016: Thought of the Day, receive fewer views than usual. I pour my heart and a piece of me into these posts to try and convey an inspirational message with some context in hopes that it can help you be happy and chase your dreams. However, I had obviously failed at that mission yesterday.

I was questioning if what I was doing on this blog was even worth it. Do I need to change directions and start something new? Or just focus on my research and becoming a world class physician? One of my mentors (read more about the importance of mentors) gave me the answer to my questions. The video above.

If you are anything like me, you want the results you aspire to yesterday. This impatience is a good trait because it motivates you to work harder than your competition. However, when it is coupled with negative feedback, it can quickly cause you to lose hope and potentially give up right before you achieve more than you could have imagined.

We tend to overestimate what we can get accomplished in the short term and underestimate what we can accomplish in the long term. Why is this? We do not buy into our skills or the tremendous power of small daily actions (read more: book review about the Compound Effect). When you truly deconstruct world class performance, it is clear that it never happens in a short period of time. Visionaries that positively change the world are able to be in two places at one time. They can maintain the ideal of their vision while intensely focusing on what needs to be done now.

Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,

Pavan Mehat

PS Here are a couple of ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.

Pavan Mehat’s LinkedIn

Pavan Mehat’s Instagram

 

 

February 18th 2016: Thought of the Day

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 9.51.57 AM

I have not posted in a while because I have let fear, my perfectionist tendencies, and paralysis by analysis get the better of me. I have been wanting to create my own website and domain to build a community of like minded individuals who are passionate about becoming self actualized and gaining mastery over themselves in order to serve others. I have just been having troubles actualizing my vision. So if you would happen to have any suggestions, please feel free to connect with me.

But I digress, today’s thought of the day was motivated by my experience at the Canadian Rheumatology Association’s Annual Scientific Meeting. I had the wonderful opportunity to listen to two talks by Dr. James Maas, aka the Sleep Doctor, that completely transformed how I view sleep. I am going to try and get him to answer a few questions and post them on the blog!

Usually I succumb to inertia and do not go up to the speaker after a moving talk to express my gratitude and ask any questions I may have. In the moment I will always come up with bullshit rationalizations, but I always end up regretting it. However, today I confronted my fears head on, and realized how they were completely unsubstantiated. Dr. James Maas was unreasonably patient and kind in answering the slew of questions he faced after his talk.

He answered a couple of key questions I had, and gave me a sample of a natural supplement to aid with sleep after an intense workout. More to come on that later, but keep an eye out if you find yourself up all night after a very intense workout.

Realize that we have been brainwashed by society to think of the world as a dangerous place. Your mind is magnificent and will seek out evidence to support your beliefs, so you do not think you’re insane. Instead, face your fears head on with the mindset of an inverse paranoid: the world is not out to get you, but out to bring positive and loving things your way.

Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,

Pavan Mehat

PS Here are a couple of ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.

Pavan Mehat’s LinkedIn

Pavan Mehat’s Instagram

 

 

 

 

How to Evolve Your Nervous System

I was foam rolling and stretching while my mother and brother were watching Suits recently. As my analytical mind is always trying to capture lessons that I can use in my life to make myself more effective in serving others, I can not just simply watch a TV show passively.

harvey-specter-

Why is it that Harvey Specter seems so cool and calm under pressure? Is it just genetic? Partly, but you can TRAIN yourself to be like this.

It seemed to me that the show kept juxtaposing Harvey’s “alpha male” characteristics with the more frantic and reckless persona of Mike Ross. The first question that came to mind was: are people like Harvey just genetically hardwired to be calm and cool under pressure unlike mere mortals who seem to crumble under the pressure? Absolutely NOT! 

Even though Harvey is calm and collected the vast majority of time, there are instances in which he loses control. Why is that? We all have a threshold of stress and ambiguity we can tolerate. Once our threshold is exceeded, we experiences negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, and depression. What separates the championship performers from the rest is that they have a greater threshold for dealing with stress and ambiguity. 

So the real question is, is this threshold genetically determined and unchangeable? New research in neuroplasticity demonstrates that we can dramatically remodel our brain at ANY age. Therefore, if you want to perform your best under the bright lights you need to improve your stress threshold. How do you do that? Below are some of my favorite strategies: 

  1. Meditation – I found that the meditation techniques that are best for beginners and allows them to sustain practice are binaural beats technology (ex. Om harmonics or Holosync), headspace (or other meditation apps), or Transcendental Meditation (however this is a very pricey option unless a student).
  2. Heart Math – This is a fairly recent innovative and cost-effective bio-feedback tool that dramatically increases performance. As there are more neurons that send information from your heart to your brain than the other way around, focusing on increasing your heart rate variability drastically improves your brain functioning. However, having feedback drastically improves the learning curve.
  3. Relaxation – Progressive relaxation techniques are one of the most means of inducing a deep state of relaxation. Conscious breathing works great as well: focus on a deep diaphragmatic inhale and a very slow exhale (take ~ 10 seconds to let the air out slowly). Inducing a deep relaxation response teaches your nervous system to be relaxed. The more you can relax during the day, the more likely you will be able to bring it up during intense moments of stress.

So if you want to remain calm and collected under intense moments of stress, use these modalities to increase your stress threshold.

Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,

Pavan Mehat

PS Here are a couple of ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.

Pavan Mehat’s LinkedIn

Pavan Mehat’s Instagram

 

 

December 9th 2015:Thought of the Day

5f80c913f12b67b1f931d20710428fc6

Rejection and failure can be extremely difficult to deal with, especially when you put your heart and soul into something. However, it can help you more than you can imagine.

“Rejection is for your protection”

The process of applying to the most competitive MD/PhD programs in the world began on June 1st at 6 am when I submitted my 2016 AMCAS application. Everything had been smooth sailing up until that point. I expected the same for the rest of the journey. Boy was I wrong.

The journey so far has been a mixture of unbelievable highs, such as getting invited to interview at Harvard Med and getting an interview for the MD/PhD program at Boston U (my alma matter) and crushing lows. Getting rejected from every school I applied to in California (Stanford, UCLA, and UCSF) really hurt.

Going into the application process I was quite confident because of my sterling academic and research track record combined with my athletic achievements. However, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to this application process and it had really shook my confidence.

I was conveying my feelings to one of my mentors and she mentioned that rejection is for your protection. She gave an example of how one of her close friends had lost a dream job to a colleague. She was devastated. But later on her colleague was raped by her boss.

Obviously this is an extreme example and you would NEVER want to inflict such a horrible experience on anyone. But it brings up a super important point. Due to our modern luxuries and advances in technology we have this misconceived notion that we have tamed Nature and are in control. This is absolutely false. We can not control what happens to us. We can only influence the end result. However, we have absolute control over the meaning we give to the events that happen to us.

So when you next experience rejection or failure, which you will again soon if you are pursuing excellence, the beliefs you have surrounding rejection will have a tremendous impact on your subjective experience. No belief is wrong or right. Yet if you control your beliefs, why would it make any sense to continue with a belief system that brings you suffering and unhappiness?

Living is a tough and challenging journey. But it can be filled with untold joys and learning experiences if you install and cultivate a belief system that empowers you to utilize all your hidden talents to improve this world.

Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,

Pavan Mehat

PS Here are a couple of ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.

Pavan Mehat’s LinkedIn

Pavan Mehat’s Instagram

Life is Good by Bert and John Jacobs

41b6gVfuYvL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Life is not perfect

Life is not easy

but Life is good

I love this introductory quote from the life is good book! This is a wonderful book for anyone at any stage of life, but would be especially useful for someone going through a tough time.

Its core central message is that in today’s world we are inundated with a flood of overwhelming negativity. Undoubtedly there are many things that are wrong in this world, but they are many more wonderful things that never get the time of day from media outlets.

This book is a fight against the negative news cycle, and to inform people of the 10 superpowers that everyone possesses to spread the power of positivity, love and joy throughout the world. What you focus on grows. So if all we hear and see is what is going wrong, and all we talk about is what we do not like, then we will never reach a solution. The essence of this book is simple: become a rational optimist.

How can you become a rational optimist? Below are some actionable items from this wonderful book.

“Get to” vs. “Have to” – How many times do you feel resentment or subtle negativity about having to complete a routine task, such as grocery shopping or doing the dishes? I know I do. What we are doing is focusing on the obligation. A simple but powerful way to transform our experience is to change our language from “I have to” to “I get to”

So instead of “I have to” go grocery shopping, it becomes “I get to” go grocery shopping. I am blessed enough to have two feet and shoes to walk to the store. I am blessed enough to live in an area where I have ready access to an absurd abundance of food. I am blessed enough to have enough financial resources to eat.

“Like me..” – How many times after someone does something “bad” do you instantly judge them and get angry and lack compassion. I know I have. Using the simple phrase “Like me…” helps me reconnect with all that we have in common. For example if someone cuts me off while driving, my initial reaction is to get angry and exclaim they are an asshole. However, I remember that like me they rush when they are running late. Like me they become less aware of their surroundings when they are worried.

The power of fun – I mentioned this in today’s thought of the day (Read More: Nov 28th 2015: Thought of the Day). When we grow up it is easy to forget to feed our inner child because we have more “serious” and “important” work to do. While this may give you short term gains, it will lead to long term decreased performance and burnout.

Like everything in life, our focus and energy levels has cycles. We can not always be in “go mode.” We need periods of intense focus and deep relaxation and fun.

If you do not take time to recharge your batteries you will be unable to fully give your best gifts to the world.

For more insightful and actionable items accompanied with jokes that will have you laughing out loud and moving stories please check out this book.

Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,

Pavan Mehat

PS Here are a couple of ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.

Pavan Mehat’s LinkedIn

Pavan Mehat’s Instagram

November 28th 2015: Thought of the Day

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 10.21.15 AM.png

I have not posted on this blog for a while. I rationalized that I needed to get “serious” and “grow up.” I cannot be frittering away my time writing on this blog. I needed to be an “adult” and spend my time like a grown up would.

That was my reasoning for why I needed to stop posting on this blog. I was feeling overwhelmed with all my responsibilities as a graduate student while balancing completing medical school applications. However, I realized that  posting on my blog was not holding me back from producing world class research. It was my lack of focus.

You can be a virtuoso or balanced but you can not be both. I had stretched myself too thin in too many directions. Therefore I needed to rein back on my commitments. This helped me drastically improve my research output.

However, I soon began losing my burning curiosity and desire to explore and solve complex problems. Why was this? I was not doing things for fun anymore. I was not allowing myself to recharge. 

We only grow old if we fail to feed our inner child. I was starving my inner child! You may think, like I did, that you do not have time to have fun. But that is like saying you do not have time to fill up the gas while driving your car. Eventually it will catch up to you.

Having fun is one of the most potent forms of medicine. It keeps us young and reinvigorates us mentally by allowing us to reconnect with who we really are. It may seem paradoxical that spending time having fun would help improve productivity, but like everything in the universe your energy levels and focus follow cycles. You need periods of intense focus followed by period of deep relaxation and fun.

Be Happy and Chase your Dreams,

Pavan Mehat

PS Here are a couple of ways to connect with me if you have any questions or have any specific topics you would like me to address.

Pavan Mehat’s LinkedIn

Pavan Mehat’s Instagram