happiness, you deserve to be happy, born to be happy, Karyn Shanks, Karyn Shanks MD, Nine Domains of Healing, Big Energy

My Happiness Meter

I had a wonderful conversation with a friend the other day… We were both explaining the ways we’d been slowing down the pace of our lives. Doing just one thing at a time. Doing less. Working less. Playing more. Loosening expectations. Letting go of obligations that no longer feel like a good fit.

We spoke of this as if it were radical. Not quite whispering, or confessing (but close)—capturing the careful intentionality of it. We’d both been curiously and studiously exploring our new way of being—not just throwing caution to the wind.

I told my friend I was using my “happiness meter” to gauge how I’m doing with my slow down. Does this thing I’m doing make me happy? Does how I’m doing it make me happy? Does this pace make me happy?

Funny, as I told her about my happiness meter, I felt like I’d been living on the edge… I have been living on the edge. This is not how I was trained, not what I see in the people all around me, not how I’m encouraged to operate for maximal success by some of my advisors. Right? Work hard, accumulate “success,” write the books (fast!), build the platform (fast!), go, go, go!

And what I’ve found? I like it. I like my happiness meter. I’m happier! And it feels right. Like—check this out—I deserve to be happy. It’s okay to be happy. Radical, right?

Will there be a price to pay? Lost revenue? Fewer projects completed? Smaller platform? Opportunities that pass me by?

Most definitely.

The benefits? It’s early yet in this experiment of mine, but so far I can tell you that I feel way better. I’m less stressed. Lighter. I get to enjoy more conversations with my boys who are both home this summer. We’re playing games in the evening! I visit my fawns in the woods and watch my birds at their feeders every day. I read more books. I feel less time pressure (there’s more time!). I’m just here in my life, in my zone, doing things I love. (Oh, and the book I’m writing is way better!)

Hmmm… that is radical! Why would I live any other way?

Using my happiness meter to guide my life doesn’t mean I have to be happy at every moment to count it as successful. In fact, unhappiness is a key to my successful next step. It shows me where to change course.

So what am I saying to you, dear reader?

Pull out your happiness meter. It’s a simple tool, but you may not have used it for a while. Look closely—it’s there. If yours is like mine, you’ll find it right there inside your body. It speaks in sensations that rise up, maybe from your midsection—somewhere between your heart and gut. Place your hands there. Breathe in there. Ask it how you’re doing. What’s it got to say about how you spend your time?

And know this: You deserve to be happy. We’re born to be happy.

Have a beautiful day!


p.s from my Archives:

Five Things I Must Do to Start My Day (Hint: Yep, Think Slow). 2018.

Our stories are powerful. Are yours holding you back? Check out my free e-book, Big Energy.

Join me (and a few friends) in my private Facebook group, Grit and Grace. This is where we share the hard work of self-care: our struggles, our insights, and our stories.

Karyn Shanks MD


Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, body-mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-eight year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.

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