“Women who inspire us” – an interview with Anne Joyal, owner Strøm Nordic Spa and Christine Michaud, author, animator and speaker, sharing their discoveries on happiness and the meaning of life.
1) Anne, how does Christine Michaud inspire you in your daily life and your life overall?
I am very proud as a woman and as a feminist, to see this role model of a woman succeed in such manner. I am particularly proud because Christine, besides having a great personality, also has a beautiful appearance. The fact that she is taking care of her looks, assuming her taste for fashion and for the finer things in life, is not an impediment on the recognition she gets. Some might attribute her success to her beauty and to the attention she pays to her appearance, and some might even try to discredit and attack her credibility. To pretend that one cannot identify with her would be too simple. On the contrary, this woman is an inspiration, and her know-how about life goes far beyond appearances.
I would like all the girls who love fashion and style to know, that they can also be open towards spirituality at the same time.
2) Christine, through your studies in positive psychology with the great professor of happiness at Harvard, Tal Ben-Shahar and other trainings (Thich Nhat Hanh, Martha Beck, Deepak Chopra, Jean Houston, Gabrielle Bernstein and Anthony Robbins), what have you found to be particularly revealing?
A lot of things! The most important one in my mind is the ratio of positivity. It has been scientifically proven that people who have a positive outlook manage to neutralize negative emotions easier: to counteract a negative emotion, we need three positive emotions. If you are living with a partner, up to five positive emotions are necessary to achieve this. This certainly demonstrates the importance of knowing positive psychology to be a better human being. But beware! Positive psychology is not the same as positive thinking. Positive psychology is not always positive, but it allows generating positivity in a negative situation by demonstrating resilience. Positive psychology allows the human beings to flourish!
3) Does it happen to you that you judge yourself in a negative way when you are in a painful situation?
Not anymore. I learned to accept and welcome all my emotions. Even though I have many tools to achieve happiness, like any other human being I sometimes feel pain and I always take the time necessary to welcome my pain and to live it fully. Doing so, I’m able to move on. By blocking the pain, we also block the joy. Tears are cleansing! By being able to live our sorrows and pains, we are also able to live our joys! Letting go is the ultimate attitude to adopt to take away the pressure, quit overanalyzing the events and be more accepting of difficulties. Everything will pass: the positive and the negative eventually dissipate on their own, so live them both fully.
4) Christine, we know you mainly as a literary columnist and one can read the list of your favorite books on your website. You even proclaim that you are a “bookaholic”, reading over 200 books a year! Tell us, what role reading plays in your life? What does it bring you?
It is my passion! I like to have books, I love reading. When I experienced a depression at age 28, I started reading a lot of books to help me get through. I totally immersed myself into the literary world. Subsequently, I joined this domain. A depression can be a reminder life sends us to try to find ourselves. It is a poorly wrapped gift, a tipping point to take a good look at ourselves.
5) In your new show “Ma liste à moi”, the guest of the week is asked to name the top 10 of her/his desires. Why did you choose the word “desire” rather than the more often used “dream”?
The word “dream” may seem inaccessible and scare some people. Desire is a more accessible way of talking about dreams!
6) Do you think you will ever get tired of exploring the topic of happiness? In your opinion, is it possible to reach the end of it?
I would be very surprised to come to the end of this subject, because happiness is intrinsically linked to the human being and I think this topic is endless! I don’t think I will ever get tired of talking about it, because it really fascinates me. On the other hand, I am open and I like change: who knows what life has in store for me! I think everything life throws at me are messages and I remain open to changes. I cannot predict whether I will work closely with this topic for the rest of my life. I love to know that life brings us the unknown!
7) Do you have an advice (or more!) you could share with us that really made a difference in your life?
I have a lot! Here they are…
Get to know yourself
We often don’t really know ourselves. You can learn about yourself every day by mindfully observing yourself. Observe our reactions. Why does this affect me? Why does it shock me? Instead of judging yourself, learn to pay attention to yourself. When I observe my reactions, I often think, “Ah, that’s interesting!”
It is possible to liberate ourselves by cleaning up our life, and return to the child that slumbers in us. Tools such as therapy, reading and writing allow us to shine. When Michelangelo was asked “How were you able to create such a beautiful sculpture,” he replied: “I didn’t do anything, I just released the work of art that was already hiding in the block of marble.” We are all works of art hidden under several layers. These layers are injuries that we accumulate over time. By eliminating them one after another, we shine, we blossom.
I am not talking about the love between lovers, but about love in general. We come from love; we must learn to love and to recognize it. By opening ourselves to the inspiring human connections and by putting love in what we do, we remove a lot of pressure from the details. Love makes us flourish! If we meet a stranger and we are able to confide in him with something intimate, the relationship quickly becomes strong and provokes an important human connection. For me, this connection is synonymous with happiness. If we forget to talk to people who pass our way, we lose beautiful human connections. One day, I had one of these very special connections with my taxi driver. When I said goodbye, moved in some way, he replied: “Madame Christine, did you know that we had an appointment today?” I thought that was fantastic!
The present moment
We’re going too fast. To develop more love in our lives, we must learn to be present in the here and now.
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