This is the Monthly Stories issue

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How to Be Happy, No Matter What

Is there such thing as a guide to happiness? Here are some simple changes that could transform your life. Aristotle said that happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence. Today, examples of just how important happiness is to us are apparent across the world. In Bhutan a happiness index is used to measure national progress, in America the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental right protected by the Declaration of Independence, and in Denmark the government places more emphasis on social capital than generating wealth, contributing to the country’s enviable position as the happiest country in the world. But the unintended consequence of all this focus on happiness is that we become hyper aware about whether we’re happy or not, which paradoxically can make us sad that we aren’t happier. For millennials, who are particularly plugged into this global obsession through social media channels, the problem can be particularly acute. So just how do we cut through all the chatter and get down to the business …


Don’t Put that On Your Face: A Closer Look at the Toxic Ingredients We Use Every Day

One woman’s story about how harmful ingredients in children’s personal products inspired her to make a change. Abby Songin has always considered herself a healthy person. Her parents encouraged her local shopping habits and meal preparation techniques from a young age. “I had a general idea of what was good for my body and what clearly was not,” Songin says. She takes her fitness seriously; she played basketball at an elite level and received an athletic scholarship to Canisius in Buffalo, New York. After graduating, she played professionally in Germany for a year. Then she returned home and started a family. The mother of two found herself raising young kids at a time when the terms “natural” and “organic” were growing in popularity. And as she looked to instill strong nutritional values in her children, she started paying more attention to ingredients on other items on her shopping list, such as shampoo, lotions, and makeup. It wasn’t just what she was applying to her own skin that frightened her; it was the toxins she started …


Is Buying a Home Even in the Cards for Millennials This Year?

The first-time home buying experience is overwhelming, especially in today’s real estate market. The thought of buying your own home is exciting, yet terrifying. As a 25-year-old living north of Toronto, this “crazy housing market” is all I know. The average price for a single family home in the GTA is about half a million dollars. The fact this is “normal,” in my opinion, is crazy. Is owning a home even feasible for millennials today? Being an adult is hard. We all want to be independent, and often this means owning your own place, while still trying to follow your parents’ suggestions not to “bite off more than you can chew.” We’re told not to spend money we don’t have, and scrutinized as the generation who is living on credit. It’s frustrating to hear baby boomers talking like they know what were going through. Of course they don’t get it! My dad loves to remind me interest rates were 18 percent and higher when he bought his first home at age 29. Sorry dad, but …


Five Ways to Make the Transition from School to Work as Effortless as Possible

From one millennial to another: here’s how to avoid getting overwhelmed by the sudden change and come out #winning. Throughout life, we go through many transitions, with one of the most notable being the transition from school to the workplace. However, life doesn’t provide us with a clear set of rules or guidelines to follow when making any of these transitions. So how do we do it? As someone who has jumped through the school/work transition before, you’d think I would be good at it by now. Well, guess again. I don’t think transitioning is something we can ever be good at, but we can improve and adjust our expectations and processes to fit our situation. After graduating from Ryerson with a bachelor’s degree when I was 22 I had no idea what I was going to do. I started working at a startup, while also developing my writing portfolio and building up other skills, such as communication and project management. Truth be told, the transition wasn’t easy. I don’t think transitioning is something we …


My (Un)justified Social Media Fears

A decade of on-again, off-again social network use has one millennial thinking about the big picture. I never really hit it off with social media. To me, networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all feel like one long, awkward first date, and I’ve always had one foot out the door. I’ve tried to get to know them, in fact, I probably know them better than most, having spun-up countless social media developer apps and accounts in my professional life - I’ve combed over Facebook’s social scrape data, wrestled with Twitter’s APIs, and configured enough YouTube profiles that I could probably do it in my sleep. So I’ve tried, but we’ve never clicked. My anxiety around social media is easy to explain. I think its communication lacks subtlety, and I find my lack of control over news feeds and what others are showing me to be frustrating. The discomfort I feel around social media may actually be healthy, but when I go out of my way to avoid it (Facebook and Twitter notifications get turned off …

“I feel beautiful again” I said and couldn’t stop crying tears of joy.

How a Makeover Made Me Feel Beautiful Again

It’s not everyday you win a makeover on the Marilyn Dennis show. How one lucky experience launched a transformational journey in both body and spirit. It all started with a picture. For several years I had been the one at events being in control of the camera and taking pictures.  As the photographer, I was able to control what appeared on Facebook and could hide my body. This also meant that I could try to hide my weight gain of fifty-four pounds over the past three years. The problem was that during one summer weekend in at a cottage in 2015, I wasn’t the only photographer. “Smile Sarah” said my sister as she snapped my picture. Little did my sister know that I had spent three years being very careful about how I appeared in pictures. The entire time I had successfully avoided any photos being shown or printed of my body. Quickly, I used my arms to try to cover my body and forced a fake smile on my face while she took the …