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Rethinking happiness

15 April 2020 by Marie-Eve Trudel, founder of Yogacamp retreats, of Namkha studio and media strategist for Strøm through her agency, Comptoir Pub

The idea of confinement slowly made its way into our house before it turned everything upside down. Since I live very close to my mother’s house, we had kept seeing each other at first. When it was beautiful outside we would take walks with my son, and we would meet at the park to look at the runners. We were even bringing to each other some meals that we had cooked, taking great care of disinfecting everything on our arrival. It was even relaxing. I was running again, and online courses and conference calls were the answer to my need to connect.

But towards the end of March, my concern about the general uncertainty intensified.

The money I was to receive for some contracts would probably not arrive, the yoga retreat that we had put so much effort into would possibly have to be postponed, and it was impossible for me to visit anyone… I found it really hard, I even cried about it. That day, the stock markets collapsed even more, the media was playing the same tape on TV, and my coworkers were trying in vain to keep the business running by offering yoga classes online, without remuneration.

So I had two options, which were basically doing nothing or choosing to feel good again. Either I drank another matcha latte and remained kind of useless in front of my computer, busying myself talking on the phone (which was pointless because nobody knew what to do), or I shut everything down to do an internal “reset”.

I think that in life, when we find ourselves having to make a choice, one of them always brings us more happiness. So I turned off my cell phone and flipped down my laptop screen. Wherever I could at home, I lit candles and burned the last tiny bit of dried-up sage I had left in a drawer.

“The human being has this capacity to adapt and to make the most of every difficult situation in which he finds himself,” I told myself again to convince myself.

Between two things on the to-do list, I turned my condo into a bunker, I meditated on these feelings of insecurity, of anger. I forced myself to experience them the way one goes through physical surgery: with resilience and acceptance. I was in my room, anxious, and I remembered a friend’s post on the crisis in India, and my eyes opened wide.

I was so lucky to be here.

The situation was only temporary.

And for money, everything is relative.

I took a notebook and wrote down all the gratitude I had for everything around me, from the most subtle to the most important. And I started to get hungry again.

I remembered this recipe I never made due to lack of time. I tore off a sheet from my gratitude notebook, handwrote the list of ingredients required and walked to the grocery store, without my phone, on a weekday afternoon with the feeling of freedom of a single woman on a girls’ trip. The sun on my pale skin was almost as soft as the one I would have seen during my yoga retreat in Portugal, an adventure that my partner and I had to cancel the week before. The road to Beaubien Street had never looked so beautiful. I finally had time to enjoy the rainbows in the windows and to see my neighbours.

When I came back, Arthur, my little 3-year-old boy, helped me to cook the chicken, Portuguese of course. We even had some for my mother and my boyfriend, too.

I admit carefully that this downtime is doing me some good. In spite of the economic storm that is looming and the fact that I am just coming out of a postpartum period, I hope that people, and myself, will be able to refrain from falling back into the abyss of our bad daily habits and to just get back to the basics: spending time together, in total mindfulness.

Many of the studies I have read say it: people who are richer are not happier. The greatest happiness resides in giving meaning to its own life.

What if I gave mine even more meaning? They say it takes 21 days to change or integrate a habit into your daily life. So I imagine that in two or three months, I could easily have the time to reconnect with nature, get my things together financially, learn to spend less on useless things, all of this to finally be even happier.

We are responsible for our own happiness and I am convinced that the best moments of our lives are yet to come.

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