Vicki McLeod.

Untrending: Happy and sad two sides of same coin

Happiness, as we know, is more about attitude than anything else.

As I write this, I am gazing at the view over my new balcony. Masts of sailboats bob on sparkling blue water and behind them the treeline of the forests of Newcastle Island spikes the sky.

Turning to look the other way, into the living space of this high-ceilinged seaside penthouse apartment and out the sweeping windows that frame it, I have a close-up view of two tall and abundant ponderosa pines. In their branches, birds flit and chitter. A seagull calls out over the boats on the sea. I feel lucky.

My husband and I decided to move last summer, when a series of circumstances conspired to have us consider relocating. It seemed like bad luck at the time.

Shortly after making the decision, we bought this place. It’s been nearly a year of challenging transition, travelling between two homes, navigating thorny and sometimes heartbreaking real estate issues, and culling and sorting through a shared lifetime of treasures.

READ ALSO: Happiness arrives like a hummingbird.

It’s not just the letting go of the stuff I’m talking about here (although that was hard enough). We fool ourselves into believing that our self-directed choices will result only in joy and satisfaction.

Change is hard – even desired change – and letting go is a bit of an art form. I learned many years ago to honour the tumultuous range of emotions that come with making big decisions – from excitement and anticipation to dread and fear.

It is easy to forget that every ‘yes’ we say also carries a ‘no.’

We marry someone we love, ringing out the happy news, and yet we say goodbye to our single life of independence. We leave a job to pursue a new opportunity but leave behind comfortable routines and collegial relationships.

Happy and sad are two sides of the same coin, as are joy and sorrow. Think of a student graduating high school, then leaving home for the first time to travel to university. There is happy gladness at their success and anticipation for the future, and the wrenching farewell to friends and loved ones.

For us, saying ‘yes’ to this new chapter means saying ‘no’ to the day-to-day geographic connections with those who made a home in our hearts in a place we loved.

I feel lucky sitting here because this apartment is a beautiful one, and solid. All the divine forces seemed to have conspired to put us here — the circumstantial ones such as our aging home and subsequent problems – and the more cosmic ones – our realtor knew a realtor who knew about a place, and so on.

I know we will be happy here, because we were happy there (and happiness, as we know, is more about attitude than anything else).

Unpacking boxes, setting up the China cupboard, finding a spot for pots and pans, arranging plants and photos of treasured friends and family, brings a sense of domestic contentment, of getting settled.

Life seems to serve up good and bad luck in fairly even measure. I’ll take my share of both, as long as there are birds in the trees and boats on the sea, and hearts we’ve touched in passing.

Vicki McLeod is an author, TEDx speaker, and award-winning entrepreneur. She is a business and personal coach and consultant. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or find her at

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