How I’m Learning to Spot and Cherish Life’s Dream Moments


Hey friends,

This week, I’ve been mulling over an idea I’d love to share with you – the concept of “dream moments.” These are the instances where we find ourselves living out something we’ve always dreamed of. It’s like a mental high-five to our past selves.

Remembering back to my days at university, I’d often have these moments. Strolling through the paddock of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, I’d suddenly be struck by the realisation: “This is really bloody cool. This was our dream a few years ago. And we’ve made it!” But looking back, I wish I’d let myself savour these moments a little more.

Fast forward to now, and these dream moments still catch me by surprise. Like a few weeks ago when I did an interview about my book Feel-Good Productivity on Good Morning America – most of me was focused on not tripping over my words, but a part of me wished I’d taken a moment to just appreciate how surreal it all was. That was a dream moment – a moment that was a dream a few years ago, and was now a reality.

I find myself recognising these moments occasionally in day-to-day life as well. For example, in the midst of the freezing winter in London, being able to open the Tesla app and pre-heat the car before getting into it in the morning, always gives me a sense of: “Whoah this is really cool. We’ve made it!” And these days, when I’m about to give a talk, I’m getting better at reminding myself of how once, this was all just a dream.

But here’s the catch – as life progresses, even our dream moments can start to feel routine. That’s the hedonic treadmill for you. Luxuries become the norm, and suddenly, flying business class, or driving your dream car, or a date night with your dream girl, or a great flow session doing work you love, doesn’t spark the same joy.

The brain is a survival machine, not an appreciation machine. It’s evolved to tune-out anything that’s going well, and focus only on things that are changing, or things that are negative. What’s the point of wasting brain power appreciating the present moment when you could be thinking about the lion that might maul your tribe in the night?

But that’s not a particularly fun way to live. And so, we have to counteract our default tendency to only look at the negative, to only look at what’s changing or what will help us to survive. And we have to counteract that with active habits that build the practice of gratitude.

How? How do we appreciate more of these moments in the present? This is what I’ve been thinking about a lot this week.

I remember reading The Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming a few years ago, a book that (perhaps unsurprisingly) teaches you how to lucid dream – ie: to realise you’re dreaming when you’re dreaming, and therefore to be able to control what goes on. One of the ‘tricks’ is to regularly ask yourself: “Am I dreaming?”, and seriously look around to see if you are. The problem is that unless you regularly ask this question in your real-life, there’s no way it’s going to become habitual enough for you to ask it when dreaming. One solution is to attach the question to some sort of cue – for example, anytime you walk through a doorframe, you could ask yourself: “Am I dreaming right now?” Eventually, by attaching the question (“am I dreaming?”) to the cue (the doorframe), you start to habitually ask the question many times throughout your waking life.

How can I create similar cues to remember to summon gratitude and appreciation for the present moment? Right now, when I sit in my fancy car, or when I turn left in an aeroplane to head towards a business class seat, I find myself thinking: “This is really freaking cool. Well done Ali from the past, we’ve made it!”

But can I find those sorts of cues outside of materialistic and expensive things? What would those cues look like in the everyday? Could I summon that sense of gratitude and appreciation every time I take a first sip of coffee? What about whenever I hop on a Zoom call with my team – could I treat the “Join Audio” button as a button that also cues: “Remember that we’re literally living the dream that we’ve been working towards for years. Remember to appreciate where we are and who’s with us, because this is really freaking cool”…

So, I’ll leave you with this thought: What are your cues for gratitude? What moments in your day can remind you to appreciate that you’re living a life that a previous version of you could only dream of?

Have a great week!

Ali xx

PS: My CEO coach, Eric Partaker, has just launched his Peak Performance Program (affiliate link), to help you reach your full potential and make the most of 2024. It’s your last chance to join. Enrolment closes midnight UK time, Tuesday, 23rd January so be sure to check it out.

PPS: If you’ve read my new book Feel-Good Productivity, then I would LOVE it if you’d be able to leave it a review! It makes a huge difference to authors and I’m super keen to hear your thoughts 💙

PPPS: My friends at Med School Insiders made this cool video summary of the book. Check it out here 🙌

💚 Skillshare

I’m going to be part of a live fireside chat and Q&A with Skillshare’s CEO Matt Cooper on the 30th January – we’re going to be chatting about my new book, how you can get the most out of your time, and we’ll be taking questions from the audience as we go. I’m really looking forward to this conversation – grab your tickets here!

If you want to level up your skills in 2024, then Skillshare is the place for you. Skillshare is an incredible platform which is helping hundreds of thousands of people learn new and exciting creative skills. There are all sorts of things to learn from the world’s leading experts – if you’re interested in YouTube, then MKBHD has a great course on writing and filming videos. There are classes on painting, digital art, music producing, and so much more. I even have my own Skillshare class on productivity for creators! You can access that here.

Thanks to Skillshare for sponsoring this issue of Sunday Snippets 🙏

✍️ Quote of the Week

“These hours are all you’ve got. There is nothing in your life that is more valuable than your time, the moments you have left. You cannot put too much awareness and intention into the way you invest those moments.”

From Your Money or Your Life by Joseph R. Dominguez and Vicki Robin. Resurfaced using Readwise.

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