No childhood is complete without a happy meal 🍟

McDonald’s Happy Meals were the shit as a kid. Why? 

  • It comes in a box with those golden M’s as handles
  • There’s always loose fries at the bottom 🍟
  • You get a dope ass toy every time

Sure they’ve been linked to obesity and diabetes. But they’ve also been linked to my best childhood memories too. And what if I told you that this childhood treasure box could help you build resilience as an adult?

Hold up. What is resilience? Say no more fam. I googled it for you already.

It’s the skill of overcoming obstacles in life. Resilience is essential whether you want to…

  • Start up your own business
  • Perform better at work
  • Get better grades as a student
  • Or just for a better life

Because no lie. We all have bad days. Things like…

  • Getting hit with an academic warning in school
  • Finding out that you lost your job
  • Making the decision to pull your dad off life support

I’ve gone through all these things. But each and every time, it was resilience that gave me that pick me up just like a McDonald’s Happy Meal as a kid.

You aren’t born with resilience, but you can develop and build resilience. And that’s what today’s article is about.

In this article you will learn…

  • How my grandma built her resilience ordering McDonalds everyday in a Jewish neighborhood
  • A simple question to overcome any obstacle
  • How to keep pushing with your goals even when you want to quit

Ok. Ready? Let’s go!

The struggles of ordering at McDonalds 🍟🍔

Like most Chinese families, who worked toward a better life for their children, my parents worked multiple jobs.

Before heading off to work in the morning, my parents dropped me off at my grandma’s house.

Spending quality time with grandma meant drinking lots of soda, watching hours of cable TV, trips to the playground, and of course… lunch at McDonalds.

We would go through the same daily routine of strapping me on to a “kid leash” before leisurely walking to McDonalds.

At the time, I didn’t really speak English at all. Neither did grandma. LOL.

Back then, there weren’t a lot of resources for Chinese people to learn English. A lot of Chinese ended up staying in Chinatown because they were more comfortable speaking Chinese.

I can’t blame them. You’re going from communicating fluently in one language to barely communicating in another.

In my grandma’s situation, she didn’t have a choice. The government kicked out half of Chinatown to build a highway on top of it. So my grandma ended up moving into a Jewish neighborhood called Brookline.

Anyways back to McDonalds. So how did we order our food?

It was struggle at first with some hand gestures and lots of awkward pauses. None of it worked.

Then she pointed at pictures. And it worked. Right until they switched the promotional posters. But grandma still didn’t give up.

Even though my grandma couldn’t speak English, she was smart. She watched other people order and looked at what they got. Eventually she learned these three magical key phrases🍟

  • Fish sandwich
  • Happy meal
  • Thank you

No lie. A lot of people would of given up. Shit. I would be too embarrassed to come back. But grandma kept trying and building resilience each time.

My grandma knew that how much I loved McDonalds and she loved her Fish-O-Filet. Rather than avoiding the obstacle, she found a way.

So what can we learn from my grandma’s McDonalds story?

Start asking “How can I find a way?” to build resilience

Maybe things don’t go the way we want to. We tell ourselves “I can’t do this”. Ever experience this?

No lie. Recently I was redoing my Refugee Hustle website. See I’m not a website designer. I know some HTML and PHP, but design ain’t my thang.

Rather than give up, I built resiliency instead. I changed the question from… “Can I do this?” to “How can I do this?

So I ditched the old layout and stopped trying to code everything. I found a template that I liked and learned how to blend layers with Pixelmator… AKA bootleg photoshop for Apple.

Through asking the right questions I was able to go from…




Is it the best design? Hell no.

No lie. You might suck at first. But building resilience helps you get better every time. Instead of asking “is it possible?”, start asking how can I make it possible?

See there wasn’t anything “wrong” with my grandma. She just didn’t have the skills to communicate in English.

But it wasn’t impossible for her to order a happy meal and fish-o-filet. She just had to figure it out.

And a lot of the time, we can do the same.

You get better with every “rep” 

If you’ve ever lifted weights, we all know the importance of reps.

No one comes into the gym deadlifting 500 lbs off the floor on the first day. It takes time and reps. Reps allow you to practice your form, experience failure, and adapt.

We can apply these same principles to life. Life is about…

  1. Big wins 🙌
  2. Eating shit 💩
  3. Adapting

As long as you’re doing one of the following steps, you’re always making progress.

It’s not always in that order. Sometimes you’ll eat shit and have to adapt multiple times before you see a big win. But through each failure you build resilience.

With my grandma, she went from pointing to learned a few English phrases to order at McDonalds.

Each failure was an opportunity to build resilience. She adapted each time. So how do you build resilience?

Start believing that anything is possible with enough reps. We might not be there quite yet. But with enough reps we can get there.

When I was trying to grow my business after losing my dad and job, I felt like I was eating shit at life. Some days, I would cry. Other days it was hard believing that I actually had a future.

But I kept adapting and trying new things out. I stopped asking if it was possible and embraced a “how to” mindset. Shit I actually wanted to make mistakes so I could get better. I know I’m a bit sadistic.

The more cycles of big wins, eating shit, and adapting, the closer we get to our goals.

Don’t give up on your Refugee Hustle

There’s a lot of people who dream coming to this country. My grandma’s journey wasn’t easy.

During World War II, Japan invaded China. They raped and pillaged her village. Grandma fled for her life.

No one would help her. They just couldn’t. With no money and two kids, what was she supposed to do? But her refugee mindset pushed her to find solutions.

She used her skill of growing rice. Not only did she feed her family, but she also fed her community. Eventually it was enough to buy papers and a one way boat ticket to the US.

When she got to the US, she was broke again. My grandfather died from thyroid cancer after serving in the US Army, leaving her to raise 5 children by herself.

She joined a church to help and worked in a sewing factory to make ends meet. Eventually she made enough to buy some property and became a millionaire.

Whether you’re trying to get into pharmacy school, start a business, or rise up the ranks of the corporate ladder, there’s always a way. We just have to find solutions.

Whenever you go through obstacles in life, it’s chance to build resilience. You get stronger each time you practice it. 

If you want to follow me with my Refugee Hustle, sign up for my email list. I’ll send you the most realest life advice out there on the net.

Until next week,

Kevin the Refugee

PS… Want more posts on building resilience?