dream big my friend podcast by frances vidakovic







dream big my friend podcast










Now this idea might be contrary to popular opinion, especially if you have a long list of things that you think you need in order to be happy.

But I am going to suggest an alternative here, that sometimes less is more and sometimes what we think we WANT is not the same thing as what we really need.


Now before I begin I want to make it clear that we all have a different definition of what we deem happiness to be.


And this episode isn’t about suggesting that XYZ will make you happy – far from it.

Instead I am simply suggesting an alternative way of looking at happiness and I feel that there will be some people in this world who really need to hear these words today so this episode is for you.

So this episode starts with a little story and a step back in time for me.


At the time I was 20 and I had just finished my psychology degree at university.


I can remember hearing a quote by John Lennon at the time which went like this:


When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy”. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment and I told them they didn’t understand life.”



Now I love quotes and this one really sent a shiver down my spine.


Having just graduated from college, I knew that more than anything I wanted to be happy in my life.

But at age 20 I had no idea what that meant.

That’s something they forget to teach you back in school or if they did teach it I realise now that every teacher would simply be sharing their own opinion on that definition because there is no right or wrong answer to this question: what makes a person happy?


For me at age 20 I guessed that it involved having a family, setting and chasing big goals and working in a job I loved.


I grew up in Australia with this expectation that I would one day own my own home, grow and nurture a family and live happily ever after.

Those were the simple goals but to me there was beauty in this simplicity.

Anyway this story actually begins with me travelling over to Croatia, to a beautiful island where my parents were both born the winter after I finished school.


Not long before my arrival the war of independence had just finished in Croatia so it was nothing like the crazy bustling tourist destination like it is now.


It was quiet, like an overlooked dot on the map.

When my sister arrived there was this marked contrast between us girls – having grown up in middle class Sydney, with our newer clothes and fancy skincare products, versus the village girls, who were gorgeous even if they didn’t have access to any of the so-called necessities we are told we need to have in our more consumer societies.

In this mountain village, with a population of 400, I ended up living with my grandparents for over nine months and I have to say it has left this indelible mark on me and has impacted me in a positive way ever since then.


I still find it so strange that I learned more about life and love and happiness from these people who lived so simpler, than I ever did from my college degree.


These villagers had very little fancy material possessions.

They didn’t have magnificent mansions; instead they lived in quaint houses made mostly of stone.

They didn’t wear anything super expensive like designer clothes.

Instead many wore clothes that they had received as a donation from Caritas, when the truck came in to deliver packages to help the villagers.


I want to paint a picture of what life was like for me during the nine months that I lived there.


I used to fetch my water from a well.

We would go into the woods to cut down firewood.

I boiled water over the fire so I could wash my hair.

The villagers there didn’t wear watches.


They used to laugh at me for wearing a watch and say “what’s the rush? Take your time.”


They didn’t have diaries in which they could jot down their million appointments into.

They never overscheduled anything.

They took each day at a time.

They used to look at me when I was a crazy person when I described going to the gym and using the treadmill.

They used to say “so you run on a machine, constantly moving but going nowhere?”


Why not just run outside in the fresh air?”


I have to say it sounded crazy to me too when I exclaimed the concept of a treadmill to them.


The one time my sister decided to go for a jog on the road at least three cars stopped to ask her if she was late to something and did she need a lift?


Because to them, exercise was incidental.


It happened without thinking, while they were walking around everything, walking six miles to a beach and back home again or up and down the mountain all day.

It wasn’t something they gave conscious thought to.

They walked around everywhere.

They ate when they were hungry.

They rested when they were tired.

And as they often told me, they worked to live rather than the way we seemed to do it back home which was living to work.

In Australia an adult life revolved around work.

Whereas here they worked and life revolved around family and friends not just on the weekends, or when it was scheduled in their diary.

It happened all the time.


And the most surprising thing was most of these villagers seemed genuinely HAPPY, not because of anything they owned but because of this belief that happiness comes from within.


These villagers, who did not have much in terms of material possessions or fancy gadgets, understood that you couldn’t physically buy something from the shops that would make you happy, if you didn’t first have that feeling of happiness coming from within.

Now from the outset you might think I – with my college degree, big house back in Sydney and an healthy savings account from having worked all through high school and college – would have been the happiest person there, right?

I mean, I technically had the most THINGS.


But honestly what I discovered in this little village that I eventually learned to call home was that you didn’t need much to be happy.


I genuinely thought my grandparents who were still so in love and kind to each other – I thought they were rich.

I thought what these villagers had, a place to live where everyone watched out for each other – that made them rich too.

I thought that little village, where everywhere came out in the afternoons to sit on benches under the big leafy trees and talk until late into the night, whether they were young or old, was the greatest place in the world.

I also used to think as a psychology major that you always needed to be working towards big goals to be happy, that it was natural and acceptable for people to want more and more out of life.

That it was expected that we would have monetary goals and want to accumulate nice things in life because there were so many people who preached this idea that more money equals more happiness in life.

But that year I discovered that there were people in this world who had consciously never set a big financial goal in their life, who had reached old age without ever accumulating lots of material possessions, who lived in the same house where they were born and had never travelled to see the world and yet they were still happy.


They did necessarily want more – they just decided that what they had was ENOUGH.


And this peace they had inside, this acceptance that they were born in this village and would probably live here or somewhere nearby until the day they died, that peace they felt because they truly believed IT WAS MORE THAN ENOUGH.

And that felt priceless to me.


They were living in the moment, living for now, choosing to be grateful for the things they had and opting to be happy NOW.


Now I wanted to record this episode for those people who don’t have the typical big goals to chase, like growing their own business or earning an X amount of dollars each year.

I wanted to put your minds at ease if your goal is simply to be a good parent or kind family member or friend during your lifetime.

I wanted to know that you can choose to live a simple life and have a simple goal and that can be enough.

You get to decide what you want out of life and you can decide if you want less rather than more.


Less stress, less worry, less material possessions, less pressure, less everything if that’s what you think will make your heart happy.



Because what I discovered from my time living overseas is that there are people in this world who don’t have much money or much to show in terms of material possessions but they still genuinely and blissfully happy.

There are people living in different little dots on that globe that don’t subscribe to the traditional Western world idea of money = happiness.

They are totally fine coming up with their own rules and own definition.

So let’s have a conversation right now about how we can decipher this idea of what happiness means. It will require that you ask yourself what makes YOU and you alone feel truly happy.

Forget about all the traditional textbook answers.

Forget about what other people tell you about what they think happiness means.

What does it mean to you?




  • Are you a happy person?
  • What does happiness mean to you?
  • What makes you happy?
  • Do you believe that money can buy happiness?


  • What are three things that make you happy?
  • When did you last feel happy?
  • What contributed to that state of happiness?
  • When was the happiest time of your life?


  • What contributed to that state of happiness?
  • Who is the happiest person you know?
  • What makes them so happy?
  • What activities make you feel most happy?


  • What is missing from your life that would make you happier?
  • Is your happiness dependent on other people or yourself?
  • Is it normal to feel happy ALL THE TIME?



dream big my friend podcast by frances vidakovic



Now I want to share with you 10 tips to consider when thinking about happiness:



 BEFORE WE GO OVER THEM I WANT YOU TO KNOW IT’S NORMAL TO FEEL HAPPY ONLY 50% of the time and the rest of the time to feel a range of other feelings.


People have this unrealistic expectation that they can and will feel happy ALL THE TIME but I’d like to put forward this idea that the goal may not be to feel happiness ALL THE TIME but to learn to be at peace with all the emotions that life has to offer.

You aren’t failing at life is you don’t feel happy all the time.

Maybe the goal is to accept what is and embrace every feeling that comes your way in a more positive way.


Remember happiness is a choice.

You can choose to be happy.


There will always be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you let it affect you or not. 

Happiness is not something ready-made.

It comes from your own actions.

The key to being happy is knowing that you have the power to choose what to accept and what to let go. 

One of the simplest ways to stay happy is to let go of all the things that make you sad – so obvious right?


Happiness is letting go of what you think your life is supposed to look like.


You know you can’t control the world.

We can only (barely) control our own reactions to it.

Happiness is largely a choice, not a right or entitlement. 

The less you care what others think, the happier you’ll be.


It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy.

It is what you think about. 


It always comes back to our THOUGHTS.

Happiness is an attitude and we can either choose to make ourselves miserable or happy and strong depending on the thoughts we choose to have.

Being happy doesn’t require you to expect everything to be perfect.

Instead it means you are open to this idea of being happy DESPITE the imperfections.


Remember you deserve to be happy.


You deserve to live a life you are excited about.

Don’t let others make you forget that.

Until you are happy with who you are, you will never be happy with what you have.

Be happy with what you have.

Be excited about what you want. 


Once again, happiness depends more on the inward disposition of mind than on outward circumstances.


Happiness is not a possession to be prized; it is a quality of thought, a state of mind. 

Someone wise once said that folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be and that is so, so true.

But you need to learn to value yourself, to understand that you are worthy of having this feeling of peace with your life and this often means you will need to fight hard for your happiness. 

You will need to let go of the things that don’t serve you.


You will need to allow yourself the freedom to be okay with your life, flaws and all.

You don’t need to feel miserable.

Life doesn’t have to feel like a constant battle.

If you want to be happy, you can choose to be happy.


Happiness is enjoying the little things in life. It is not out there but in you.


When you love what you have, you have everything you need.

So go out and spread love everywhere you go.

I mean, if you aren’t grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you would be happy with more. 

Don’t let the silly little things or petty people steal your happiness.

On the whole, the happiest people are those who just DECIDED to be happy.

They made a decision and they have committed to seeing it through – having this goal of acceptance and peace in their life. 


The real secret of happiness I discovered in that village is accepting where you are in life and making the most out of every day.


Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. 

It is a thing that exists in the present moment, right here and now and it isn’t something you will discover or postpone for the future.


Happiness is something you design and create and have in the present moment. 


And if you don’t control these little moments, that are happening right now, there’s a chance you will just fall into someone else’s plan, someone’s else idea of happiness, which might not even be right for you.


So make a decision to live life with more intention.


Laugh and play with your loved ones.

Enjoy yourself on this journey.

Learn to let go of your past grievances and your fears and everything that doesn’t serve you anymore.

Practice self- care.

Live without regret.

Do what you love.


Step outside your comfort zone without worrying about what will happen to you outside those boundaries because guess what?


You have YOU.

You can always catch yourself or get back up when you fall.

You can always go back and do something different. 


Sometimes it really is the simple things that are the key to happiness. 


You don’t have to waste another minute focused on things that stress or worry or hurt you.

Let it go.

You get to decide that you are fine and strong in every moment of life, even when things don’t go your way, even when you are experiencing that 50% of the crappier stuff.


Remember life is full of 50% good stuff and 50% not so great or more mundane stuff.


One of the biggest obstacles to happiness is expecting too much from it.

Expecting that you will never feel sadness or grief or frustration or regret or anger.

But you are a human so you will have be having the full human experience in this world, which involves ups and downs and lots of detours.

This is part of our life journey and it’s okay because you are always in the driver’s seat of that car you are travelling in.


You can still choose to feel at peace during those less joyful moments.


You can still choose to live every minute with love, grace and gratitude, even during the hard times.

You can still feel terrible but not beat yourself up over time, by showing love and compassion for yourself.


You can still choose to fill yourself with love, instead of expecting something you buy or have to fill that happiness well for you.


You can be kinder to yourself, more forgiving, and less focused on thinking about the past.

People often find it so hard to be happy because they think the past was better than it was, the present is worse than it is, and that a non-existent future moment will resolve all your issues you are having.

Or maybe you think they will never be resolved.


It all comes down to the thoughts you are having right now.


I just want to remind you that sometimes the simplest things can bring you the most happiness.

Sometimes it’s all about appreciating and liking what you have, instead of what you don’t have. 


So many people correlate happiness with money and material possessions.


They think “if I only had more money, I could finally be happy.”

Or “when I get this new house/car/dress/new gadget <insert any item they think will change their life for the better> I will finally be at peace.”


Most people are shocked to discover that when they get that elusive item, their level of happiness doesn’t really change on a fundamental level.


They honestly THOUGHT it would make them happier but soon that sense of discontent settles over them again.

They are already focused on the next “must-have” thing they “have to have”, that will magically sprinkle their life with permanent peace and optimism the moment they hold the item in their hands.


 Truth bomb time: happiness comes from within.


I have always remembered this quote by Jim Carrey who so wisely said:


“I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”


In many ways I understand exactly what he means. I discovered this truth after living in post-war village with nothing more than a suitcase of belongings and discovered that never before had a felt more free or happy in my life.

The people in that village had so little- they were still recovering from a war at the time – but they had everything that was priceless: love, contentment, a strong sense of community and an appreciation for the smaller things in life.

I have actually come up with a list of things that cost next to nothing but are sometimes more valuable than any new iPhone, dress, gadget or material items you can buy at the local store.

And I want to share some of these things with you before I end this episode. While I am sharing them with you try to think about the price tag you would attach to this item.


So here goes: my list of things that are beautiful and free and cost next to nothing: 


  • Giving a kiss
  • Sharing a smile
  • Hugging someone you love
  • The joy when a loved one is happy to see you
  • Saying thank you
  • Offering an apology
  • Receiving an apology
  • Practicing forgiveness
  • Meditating
  • Witnessing a sunrise


  • Appreciating a sunset
  • A genuine surprise
  • Decluttering your home
  • Singing
  • Listening to music
  • Seeing a long-lost friend
  • Volunteering
  • Taking a walk
  • Keeping a journal
  • Dancing
  • Breathing deep
  • Fresh air and silence
  • Showing gratitude
  • Reading a brilliant library book
  • Silence when you need a rest
  • Makings new friends
  • Being kind
  • Any random act of kindness in fact
  • Expressing your creativity
  • Getting some fresh air
  • Taking a power nap
  • Making your bed
  • Having a good night’s sleep


  • Living in the moment
  • Taking a warm bath
  • Letting go of resentment
  • Feeling hopeful
  • Setting new goals
  • Stepping outside your comfort zone
  • Saying “I love you”
  • Feeling love itself
  • Saying a prayer
  • True friends
  • Family
  • Laughing until your muscles ache
  • Learning to laugh at yourself
  • Getting over petty grievances
  • Cuddles from a pet
  • Great memories
  • Achieving something you didn’t think you could do
  • Witnessing a shooting star
  • Following a rainbow
  • Enjoying nature
  • Picking a wildflower
  • Stopping to smell the roses
  • Finding money in your pocket that you forgot about
  • Discovering something you thought you lost



  • The first day of summer
  • Crunching autumn leaves
  • The weekend
  • Being cozy inside while it rains outside
  • Swimming in the ocean
  • A warm bed on a cold winter’s morning
  • Smelling a perfume you love
  • Receiving a sincere compliment
  • Waking up rested before your alarm clock goes off
  • Elevator doors opening as soon as you press the button
  • Holding someone’s hand
  • Staring at the clouds
  • The innocence of a small child
  • The bravado of an older kid
  • Confidence
  • Loyalty
  • Trust
  • Respect
  • A hardworking ethic
  • An easy-going nature
  • A good reputation
  • Discipline
  • Willpower



  • Integrity
  • A clear purpose
  • A sense of humor
  • Compassion
  • Good manners
  • Spare time
  • The truth
  • Inner peace
  • Talent
  • Good health
  • Knowledge
  • Acceptance of yourself
  • Acceptance of others
  • Work-life balance
  • Common sense
  • A good character
  • A clear conscience
  • An open mind
  • A proper perspective
  • A second chance to make things right again



So there you have it – my take on this idea that you don’t need much to be happy.


Remember happy people are not constantly acting as if they are their own worst enemies.

They do not carry on an endless war with their souls where there are no winners.

The only causality is their own sense of peace and the blood they are shedding on that battlefield is their own blood and tears.

In their core, happy people are at peace with their life and they feel a serene sense of calm and gratitude.

But I should note here that happiness does not lead to gratitude.

It’s gratitude that leads to happiness. 




  • Happiness is a choice – make the choice to be happy.
  • Let go of the past and show self-compassion.
  • Live in the moment and with intention
  • Focus and look for the positive in all your experiences.
  • Practice gratitude.
  • Fake it until you feel it.


  • Eat well and regularly exercise.
  • Know your WHY
  • Chase your dreams.
  • Celebrate little victories
  • Accept imperfections
  • Be yourself and be kind to yourself.
  • Do what you love


  • Hang out with happy people
  • Help others
  • And most importantly of all, just DECIDE. Just commit to this choice that you can be at peace wherever you are in life, right here and right now.
  • Nothing needs to change at all EXCEPT your thoughts and belief about your ability to be happy, which is always, always open to you.


So I hope this has been useful to you today.

As always thank you so much for joining me today.

I love and appreciate you all and can’t wait to catch you in the next episode.







Until next time, dream big my friend  xx



dream big my friend podcast




dream big my friend podcast by frances vidakovic