Every month, Vietcetera partner Bright – the Vietnamese magazine for simpler, cleaner and happier living,  speaks with one incredibly busy individual about their “one habit” that helps them keep their balance. Because after all, if they can, we certainly could too, right?

This month, the team sat down with star chef, writer and restaurant owner Luke Nguyen, who was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule and share his secret with us over a cup of coffee.

And, since good habits are important to everyone, Vietcetera will now publish the monthly “one habit” feature in English to share these great learnings with even more people.

Luke, thanks so much for taking the time to sit down with us. For someone like you, we’re sure there’s no such thing as a “typical” week. Still, we’re intrigued to get a sense of what it’s like to be Luke Nguyen?

Nothing that I would typical indeed, but traveling definitely dominates. Just in the past two weeks, I flew in and out of Australia, Hong Kong and Vietnam. Whether it’s to update menus, attending events or even overlook construction of a new project, whenever and wherever I touch down, there are people waiting for me and I’m expected to always be “on.” And since each and every project is very personal for me, there’s isn’t much space to go on auto-pilot and routinely repeat what had worked before. So yeah, life can get pretty hectic.

Wow. That does sound like a lot. Among all of that, what would you say drains you the most?

It’s when too many things happen at once. I tend to not get physically exhausted since I take pretty good care of myself. I can fly back and forth, work constantly and still, it’s fine. But mentally, when there are just too many individual little jobs vying for my attention, that’s the harder part.

Which habit helps you the most in finding and maintaining your balance?

I calm my mind with my breath.

Most people breathe to survive. I on the other hand, truly observe and focus on my breath.

When there is too much going on, I close my eyes and actually speak to myself: “I’m now breathing. I’m breathing in.” I “look” at my breathing in until it ends. Then, I think to myself “Now, I’m breathing out.” And on and on, until my mind gets totally quiet. Even if it’s just 5 minutes, I completely shut off and when I open my eyes again, I can truly feel like I took an hour-long break.

If you could have just one more hour each day, what would you spend it on? And if you have one entirely free day, what would you love to do?

If I have one more hour each day, I’d love to spend it on… eating. I love long lunches and dinners where you can truly taste and savor the food. If I’d have one day extra off, I’d spend it on the kids. Taking them out to play, to swim and to go back to nature. We grew up in Australia, so we always love and miss those outdoor activities and fresh air whenever we’re here.

Breathing in: Luke Nguyen’s “One Habit”

Who do you learn from or get inspired by the most?

That’d be Lynne, my partner. Sometimes it’s easy to get stuck inside and become a bit lethargic. But she’s always the person to say: “come on, let’s get going!” She motivates me to get out there and do more.

Thank you so much for your sharing, Luke!

Luke is currently preparing to open his latest venture, “Vietnam House,” that brings back the simplicity of Vietnamese cooking but with unique sustainable produce and international cooking techniques, right in the middle of Saigon. Read the full feature interview in the July edition of Bright magazine.