The Concept of a ‘Happy Life’

Why do we create this idea that living life to the fullest is synonymous with always being happy? That idea could not be farther from the truth and it’s unrealistic to expect our lives to always be happy.

What I have come to learn, is that living life to the fullest does not always mean you will be happy.

Life needs to include feeling all the sad, hurtful, and painful things that come our way.

Living life to the fullest means dealing with the messy and complicated situations we find ourselves in.

Living life to the fullest is not living each day as if it were a movie or an Instagram story.

You are meant to experience a multitude of situations, emotions, and circumstances.

I used to think that to live a happy life, everything around me had to be perfect. But as you will eventually come to understand, that is not what it means to live a happy life. Living a happy life is one where you feel and experience struggle, hardships, and difficult situations and yet, you have the ability to try and find moments of joy in those hardships.  

Don’t think that your life is terrible because you haven’t lived every day perfectly, or you don’t feel happy every day. It is completely normal to feel tired, exhausted, sleepy, anxious, agitated, irritated, etc., and at the same time experience moments of joy. But living your best life means feeling those things and learning how to deal with them. It means addressing issues that are hard to face but also finding the lessons and joys that will come out of it.

No matter how hard things get, there will always be a joy. Sometimes you might just have to look for it a little harder than usual, but that is life. Life is not just one or the other, it is a complex combination of every emotion you could think of. It’s exhausting but loving; It’s tiring but inspiring; It’s difficult but also full of joy.

You do not have to feel amazing every day; you do not have to feel horrible every day. But the key to living your best life is to understand that those two feelings can co-exist and that doesn’t make your life bad, it just makes it real and authentic.

The Consequence of Not Facing Your Fears

We have all had moments in our lives where our fears were staring us right in the face and we had a decision to make. Did we face them? or did we turn away from them?

More times than I can count, I have chosen to run in the opposite direction. At the time, running in the opposite direction felt like the right thing to do. In those moments, it felt safer and easier to run. I will admit, the relief I felt after not facing those fears was indescribable, but there was always a small voice in the back of my head telling me I had made a mistake.  

Little did I know that voice in the back of my head was on to something. At that moment, I would feel relieved, but in the long-run, I would pay a price for never facing my fears. This leads me to the point of today’s post. What happens when we don’t face our fears? What consequences do we face instead?

You see, when we run from our fears, we are essentially running from an opportunity to grow as a person. We take away the option of change or just seeing something different. I get it, change and growth are messy and difficult but they are vital to all of our lives. Just think for a moment, if you did not face your fears ever, who would you be today? How would you act? Who will you become?  

Things in life are meant to be done even with fear at the forefront. One of my favourite quotes about fear by Meg Cabot and says “courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that something is more important than fear”. Your growth, your happiness, your development as a person, is more important than fear. There is an endless list of things in life that are more important than fear. But when we come face to face with fear, we are reminded of how easy it could be if we just backed down and turned away from it.

But unfortunately, as we will all come to learn, sometimes you can’t run from fear. You will be put in circumstances or situations where facing your fear is quite literally the only option. But you shouldn’t wait until that point to face your fears or develop the tools you need to face your fears.

It is not easy, but that’s the point, it is not meant to be easy. But turning in the other direction can harm your growth and life more in the long run. Not facing your fears stifles your growth and impedes your development as a person.

Fear can stop your life from becoming better, it can stop you from doing what’s right by you and by others, it can stop you from chasing after the life you have always dreamed of. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The consequences you will face by not facing your fears are far greater than the ones you will

The Changing Meaning of Life

The initial idea behind The Life We Dream Of was to encourage people to accomplish their life goals and live the life they have always dreamed of living. It sounded simple, easy and was a bit niche in my opinion. But it never took off, mostly because I didn’t want it to. I would stop myself from posting or creating any new content because I wanted it to be perfect, and I wanted to have all the answers for those who would come to visit my blog seeking those very same answers. But over time, what I have come to learn is that the reason I wasn’t willing to return to posting on my blog is that too much had changed. More specifically, I had experienced a shift in mindset so drastic that the life we dream of lost its very essence for a while.

The other day I was watching Soul on Disney Plus and it was a truly phenomenal movie. It somehow brought me back to a time a year and a half ago where I was in a dark place and my mental health was not great. During that time, I was working at a job I found mundane, unfulfilling, and altogether made me feel useless. But why was I feeling this way? I was finally working an ‘adult job’, I was getting paid a decent salary and I loved my colleagues. Somehow, that wasn’t enough. A year and a half ago, I thought that the dream life that I wanted was one where I would climb the career ladder, live in a beautiful condo or apartment and be able to buy anything I want without hesitation. Although that is a rather simplistic view of life, I had envisioned for myself it is truly what I wanted. There is nothing wrong with that – if anything it’s a very normal life that many people want. But once I was one step closer to that life, I felt more and more unfulfilled and sad.

It wasn’t until I was unemployed during the pandemic and able to take a step back from being overly busy that I realized why I was so unhappy and unfulfilled. Yes, I was working in the job I worked so hard to get, and I was making money, but I had turned this unhappy and unfulfilling job into the center of my life. I poured all my attention into it, and the unhappiness surrounding it all consumed my life.

Why did I do that? Because that is all I ever knew how to do. All society had taught me up until that point is that I need to get a job, but not just any job, a job that I was passionate about and would want to dedicate my entire life to. I genuinely thought that I was going to live my dream life by taking this job. Even though it wasn’t what I wanted and did not in any way make me happy.

 Life is so much more than how productive I am compared to those around me. Life is about the small moments of joy, happiness, and peace. It is not all supposed to be about finding the dream career and climbing the ladder. Is it an important part of our lives? Absolutely – but how productive I am in society is not the be all end all of who I am.

Watching this movie reminded me that if I had just taken a few moments each day to find those small moments of joy or happiness, maybe I would have been a lot happier. Maybe I would enjoy what I was doing more if I had put less focus on it and stopped it from consuming my entire life. The life we dream of should be one where we seek joy and happiness, where we create it within ourselves and with others. The life we dream of is simple and not very demanding at its root core.  All I want from life is to be healthy, happy, financially comfortable and be surrounded by friends and family. At the end of the day that is all I want, and if a career can help me achieve some of those things then that is fantastic, but it will not be the only thing I focus on.

Organization Tools You Need For 2021

Organization Tools You Need For 2021

If you are anything like me, then you probably have a slightly unhealthy addiction to all things stationery, notebooks, and planners. I will say, I did not invest in a planner in 2020, but instead utilized the bullet journal because at least I could customize it to my crazy and unpredictable schedule. However, in 2021 I decided to take the plunge and invest in a planner. The way I see it is that if I’m going to invest in something it will be in myself and a tool, I can use to set myself up for success.  

I know a lot of people are hesitant to buy a planner or even just plan out their goals for 2021, and I spoke about it in my last post, but with that, I still think it’s important to work towards something or structure the work or job we currently have. With that in mind, I have also included a few online resources that you can utilize that are free, so you don’t have to monetarily invest them. But they still do an excellent job at helping you create an organizational system that works for you and your goals. Without further delay, here are a few of my favourite organizational tools!   

  • Monthly calendar

A monthly calendar is the number one organizational tool I would recommend to anyone. Whether you use it on your phone, your laptop, or a paper version, using a monthly calendar can set you up for success in the best way possible. First, it forces you to write down important deadlines, events, meetings, or appointments. This makes it easy for you to remember your busy schedule, and generally frees your brains from having to remember every little detail that is on your calendar. Second, it signals to you what needs to be accomplished, what tasks have to be completed and by when. When you utilize your monthly calendar to its fullest extent, you are doing half the work already. You are pre-planning your tasks and prioritizing them without even making a to-do list.

  • Planner

As I mentioned earlier, I did decide to invest in a paper planner. The one I am using is by STIL Classics, and I will say it is a bit pricier. But there are so many places that sell agendas to suit every budget and price range such as Indigo. One of the reasons why I love this planner is because there’s a section called monthly rituals and routines. After the Holidays I have had a tough time creating my morning and night routines. But this planner helped me make a concrete plan or idea of what I want in my mornings and evenings to look like. Another feature that I love about this agenda is that there is a weekly spread where you can write out your to-do list but then on the following page there’s also a weekly spread where you can schedule it out and I find those two together just help me visualize my week and time-block properly.    

  • Notebooks and Notepads

Having a notebook or notepad on your desk is one of the best ways to free your mind from distractions. Sometimes you get a random thought or idea not related to the work you are doing at that moment, but you still want to remember it. Having a notebook or notepad nearby can help with that. I also find that when I am feeling overwhelmed, just taking a few minutes to jot down my thoughts in this notebook helps me clear my mind and refocus on the task at hand. Another way I use my notebooks is just for to-do lists. In the middle of 2020, I was solely relying on to-do lists in my notebooks to get me through the day and the work that I need to do. It is endlessly customizable and allows you to structure your organizational system however you want.

  • Stationery

I am a big stationery lover and have far too many pens and highlighters for one person. Although I do not colour code everything in my life, I find that using colours in my notebooks or bullet journal helps add a bit of life to the page and encourage my creativity to flow more smoothly. Fancy stationery is not essential to your organization system but testing out how you plan with a bit of colour might be more incentivizing for you, or help you plan and organize yourself better.

  • Online Resources

Here are two online tools that I have used and find extremely useful and are free for those of us who do not want to use any paper or are on a budget. Trello is an amazing online tool that lets you customize the board you are using to organize your work. I used it heavily throughout university and mainly used it because it was easy to reshuffle my to-do lists and tasks, without having to physically change or create a whole new to-do list. Monday.Com I have just recently started using this platform, but it was created in such a way where it keeps you accountable on your deadlines and is amazing if you are working with other people on projects.

I hope these tools will help you create an organizational system that works for you and will help you accomplish whatever you need to do. Soon, I will talk about the organization system I have created and hopefully that can help one of you.

The beauty of organization is that it is truly customizable and at the base of it all you just need a pen and paper (or phone), and the motivation and courage to outline what needs to get done, and the discipline to accomplish it. But that system that you create is entirely yours and can be shaped and formed however you need It to be.  

*Please note that none of the links above are sponsored or affiliate links these are just things that I have truly come to love and I’m linking just for people who are interested*

Planning For 2021

2020 was a tough year, collectively and personally. It was a year that upended many aspects of our lives and a year that showed no mercy. The goals that I had set at the beginning of the year were completely thrown out the window by March. I honestly just floated through the rest of the year without a single goal in mind.

In a way, it was refreshing. I did my day-to-day things; I tried my best in school and blogged a bit, but I didn’t put any pressure on myself to adapt my goals or start from scratch. Which is exactly the mentality I am taking with me into 2021. But this time, I have decided that instead of setting yearly goals, I would just take it month by month. If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that you can’t plan life. You can’t plan or predict what will happen tomorrow, and although that scares me, it has also been a sort of comfort to know that I just need to get my shit together one month at a time.

Everything in my life as of this point is beyond uncertain. I guess you could say I am in a unique position in my life, but I think it’s a rather common one that a lot of us have faced. It’s that point where one chapter has closed, and another one hasn’t yet open so here we are just standing in the in-between of life. At least, that is how it feels to me.

But with this in-between phase, I still have things I want to do and goals to reach but I am taking a much more relaxed approach to them. So, for January 2021, here are a few of my goals and what I am focusing on.

  • Career – I am at that point in my life where I am ready, and need, a proper adult job, if you will, so one of my goals is not necessary to get a job but it is to apply to quite a lot of jobs.
    • Apply to 5 jobs a week
    • Create a job application tracker
    • Update and translate my Resume
  • The Life We Dream Of Blog
    • Grow my followers (no amount specified, because again I am trying not to put pressure on myself)
    • Post once a week
    • Update and organize website layout and content
  • Personal
    • Read 4 books (my goal is to read 50 books this year, if you have any recommendations please leave them in the comments!)
    • Re-establish a morning routine
    • Work on my relationship with money and finances

Just remember, last year was extremely challenging and the fact of the matter is, 2021 will be equally as challenging. Keep that in mind when you are creating your goals, do not put pressure on yourself to reach these impossible standards. Take a deep breath, it has been a long year but remember everything can change in a year. Just take it one month at a time. 

The Next Right Thing

It was a typical Wednesday night and I of course found myself mindlessly scrolling through Pinterest and pinning random quotes, future dream kitchens and how I want my future library to look (yes, this is truly one of my life goals). But somehow, I noticed this really pretty green square and my eyes drifted to the quote and it said, “do the next right thing”.  I had to stop for a moment and reflect. The quote hit me like a ton of bricks, and it has been on my mind ever since. I can’t stop thinking about it – why has no one told me to just try and do the next right thing?

Well, it is a bit complicated because as I am sure we all understand, sometimes we don’t know what the next right thing is. We don’t know what we are supposed to do or even how we are supposed to go about it. The idea of doing the next right thing can suddenly become overwhelming.

Here’s the thing — you don’t need to do the next major thing. You just need to do the NEXT right thing and oftentimes the next thing is a small action. So that’s what I started doing, I started thinking of it in smaller bite-size pieces.

At that moment, I decided that the next right thing would be to set my alarm for the next morning, and then I eventually went to bed. Making that decision was not a massive choice, it wasn’t scary or daunting. But I did it because I knew that if I didn’t I would have a rushed morning and that would set off a chain reaction of grumpiness for the entire day. Sometimes doing the next right thing is just one small action that could make a difference in your life. 

Thursday morning, I woke up with this idea still stuck in my head and throughout the day I decided that I would continue with it. I just kept thinking to myself, what is the next right thing? After getting up, the next right thing was to make myself a healthy breakfast, then it was to get ready for my zoom class and then it was that I would work out in the afternoon. But please don’t get the impression that I did everything right that day. I knew that one of the next right things was to attend my shorter zoom class, but I didn’t. I wanted to share that with you all because you should understand that doing the next right thing is not easy, and its habits we have to develop.

Oftentimes, it is the habit that we least want to keep up because it forces us to make choices that would otherwise make us uncomfortable. Doing the next right thing every day requires you to look in the mirror and deciding that today will be a day where you try to do your best, be your best and overall do the next right thing. Is this easy? No, but it can turn into a life-changing mindset.

But remember that you can start small. You don’t have to embark on this crazy idea of what the next right thing is – it could just be that the next right thing is making a healthy breakfast, going for a walk or just calling a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. The next right thing is not as daunting and big of a deal as we make it seem it just takes a shift in mindset and an ounce of courage.

Just think, at this moment, what is the next right thing you can do?

Follow Your Heart

If you are anything like me, you will find yourself in a position of feeling lost, confused, and just generally stuck. But recently, I have been having to make a lot of decisions about what is coming next, and I have spoken about it already here on the blog, but I think it is worth bringing up again.

Earlier today, I was watching a Disney Christmas commercial, and while sobbing my way through it (it gets you in the feels), a quote was said that resonated with me on a deep level. The quote was “if you don’t know where you are heading, follow your heart”. Maybe it was the emotions, or perhaps it was just what I needed to hear, regardless, it made me cry even more.

When I heard that, I felt something in me change – something unlocked inside of me that I had spent so much time trying to ignore and push away. For so long, my heart has been trying to tell me what I wanted to do, what my next step would on this journey that is my life, but I shoved it aside. I shoved it aside because it did not seem like something I could do — after all, I had never seen it done before.

I am not one to listen to my heart, but there is something about this pandemic that has been forcing me to reconsider that line of thinking. In the past nine months, I have not stopped having this internal argument in my mind about what I should or should not do. For nine months, I have been actively avoiding my heart, caving in and just listening to it, realizing that indeed it was telling me what I wanted and then listening to it. So why have I suddenly forgotten that process in the last few weeks? It’s because I got scared. I got scared of what could be, of who I could become and of what would happen if I failed. But this required me once again (I do this weekly) to reconsider my relationship with failure. And the conclusion I have reached is that if you follow your heart, and live an authentic life, true to yourself, then you can never fail. We only start to fail when we ignore what we want because the goal seems too challenging, scary or unachievable.

I think this has to be said along with this is that following your heart is not easy; it has never been easy; it never will be easy. You will have to consistently choose to challenge yourself over sticking in your comfort zone, courage over fear and be vulnerable.

So why is it even worth it? Why should I follow my heart? Because at the end of it all, the only way you can live an authentic, loving and joy-filled life is if you start following your heart and going after what you want. It is the only way to live a life that will make you truly happy at the end of it – follow your heart and enjoy the ride.

How the Pandemic Changed the Direction of my Life

As we are slowly approaching eight months of living in a pandemic, I could not help but lie awake the other night for over 2 hours thinking about just how much has changed in my life during these eight months.

The beginning of this pandemic brought a lot of anxiety and uncertainty, which forced me to rethink a lot of my habits. From filtering out the news I watched or read, to how I interacted with people or even just kept myself sane, I am sure you and I both have had to adapt in so many ways.

I find myself at a standstill because one chapter of my life is quickly coming to a close and I was not ready for it before this pandemic, but now I am truly terrified of it ending. In just two and a half months, I will graduate from university with my bachelor’s degree in political science.

Why am I so scared to graduate?

Well, for one thing, I don’t know who I am without school and by taking that part of my life away, I feel as if I am left with an empty shell and a meaningless life. I have built my entire life around grades, assignments and just academics in general because I was convinced that it would guarantee me a stable and easy future.

But instead, I am stuck in a pandemic with little to no idea of what comes next. Over the years, I have learned how to embrace the blank canvas that might be presented to us, but this one seems too large that even the thought of it becomes overwhelming.

My entire life lies ahead of me, and not having even a smidge of a plan seems reckless and dumb of me. What I try to remind myself, with a heavy dose of compassion, is that what comes next is not a death sentence – it is merely a new beginning, a new chapter. And I should remember how fortunate I am that to even get a blank slate.

I think the pandemic reminded a lot of us or is continuously reminding us, that we cannot plan everything. No matter who you are, something about your life was upended overnight and there was nothing we could do about it.

This pandemic has forced me to rethink the entire direction of my life. But it has also taught me that what we plan is not necessarily what will happen to us. We can spend our entire life planning for what comes next, but there are so many things out of our control that can deter the path we have so carefully curated for ourselves. I am also learning that this is not necessarily a bad thing, it is just something that happens.

Even though the pandemic has led me to a dead-end, I think it also presented me with a new option – one that was never fully visible to me before. Things in life have a way of changing the direction we are heading in, and maybe this pandemic did just that for me. If it has done the same for you, then please remember that things will work out the way they are supposed to work out. Hold on tight and have a bit of faith.

Connection

How do we connect with people? I have been thinking about human connection a lot lately and how much it has changed. We lost the ability of physical intimacy, dropping by our friends or family member’s house just for a short visit, and late-night food runs with our friends.

People say that technology radically changed the way we communicate and connect. But I don’t think anyone predicted that there would be a pandemic that would force us to physically distance from one another. Life in this pandemic has severely altered how we as humans can connect. For a good chunk of this time, the way I viewed this shift in connection was that it was gone and I was not sure if or when we would get it back.

But over the last few weeks, I think I have proven myself wrong. Yes, connection has changed dramatically, but it hasn’t gone away and it probably never will because humans are social.

Connection has changed in that the small interactions and conversations we would have throughout our days are gone. Normally, it wouldn’t matter because connection would come in some other form. Through this pandemic, I have noticed that those small snippets of my day brought me joy. And not having those small works conversations in the office, or the chit chat with the barista or even the random conversation with someone on the street has left me feeling a little less connected to other people and the world in general. However, even though I lost those small moments of connection, I find the connection I am experiencing now is more profound, deep and true. Not only myself but those around me are making an extra effort to reach out and have the scary, vulnerable and raw conversations we used to be to busy to have.

So yes, connection in a lot of ways has halted to a stop. But in other ways, true and authentic connection has increased. Don’t get me wrong, I miss my chit chats with the barista and having a good laugh with people I only know from class. But if we want to keep connecting with others, we have to adapt. If it means more face times, zoom calls or phone calls, then so be it! What I have come to realize is that connecting with people never stops or fully goes away, but it changes or shifts dramatically without our consent. The only way to keep it and to have it mean something is if we lean into the new way of connecting.

Connection comes in weird waves and it changes without notice. The only way we can satisfy that need we have as humans is to change along with it. Connection does not go away if we keep trying to connect with people.

Listening To Your Heart

I recently finished reading Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly and I wish this book was being turned into a movie. It made me reflect so much and the book has such a good message that I think everyone needs to hear.

Still tied to the classic tale of Cinderella, Stepsister explores the story of Cinderella’s stepsisters, Isabelle and Octavia after Cinderella got married to the prince. Not only does the book give us insight into what happens after the fairy tale ends but in true classic redemption style it explores what happens to characters that are categorized as “bad” or the “villains” of a story. But as we all know, villains are not born as villains, they become villains. Isabelle, one of the villains in Cinderella, discovers that the person she has become stems from the category she has been placed in by society.

How do we allow someone else to dictate who we can or will become? Why do we let people determine who we will be? Why do we listen to them?

The thing about society is that the constraints it imposes on people are so ingrained in everything we do and engage with that if we break from those constraints we are shunned and cast aside by society. How do we unlearn something so ingrained in us? We begin by listening to the parts of the heart that we have quieted so much. Often what we want most and who we truly are, are buried deep down in the depths of our hearts because it was a way to protect ourselves.

This is not a way to live a life, and it surely was not what Isabelle or Octavia wanted anymore. Isabelle had a magical fairy queen appear to her with a place to start, but unfortunately, that isn’t something we all have access to. 

Please allow me and this post to be the magical fairy queen that you need. Take a moment to just be and listen to yourself. Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling and open yourself up to what you want most in your life. You might find this hard because we have suppressed it so much. But take a moment or even a few days to reflect on what you have been pushing down because it did not conform with what people expect from you. Or, it might come to your mind right away no matter how hard you have tried to push it away.

When those feelings, dreams and goals come to your mind I want you to take a moment and envision who the person with those goals and dreams is. That is who you truly are and who you want to become.

Now from here, I can only tell you to be vulnerable and brave enough to follow that version of yourself and those goals. You need to face why you are the way you are now, and you have to realize that who you are from now on is entirely up to you. It’s time to deal with the things that have broken and shattered your heart and the walls you have put up to protect yourself. Because they haven’t protected you, they have hindered you from succeeding.

Those broken pieces can be fixed and all of the mess that you will go through is beautiful and so true to you.

I challenge you to start listening to your heart and work on reworking your life. You are under no obligation to stay in the mold of society and you do not need to abide by societal norms of what is expected from you.

As always, this is easier said than done. But I do recommend reading the book for a bit of inspiration, and motivation to become who you are and to listen to your heart.

I leave you with one last, abbreviated, quote from the book: “There is magic in this sad, hard world. A Magic stronger than fate, stronger than chance. [..] It is magic of a frail and fallible creature, one capable of both unspeakable cruelty and immense kindness. It lives inside every human being ready to redeem us. To transform us. To save us. If we can only find the courage to listen to it. It is the magic of the human heart.”

Thanks for reading. Stay safe! x