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EP2 // Take a Stand for Your Happiness

2021 happiness hack Jun 21, 2021
Finally Effing Happy Episode 2

Take a Stand for Your Happiness!  
What Science Says About How Happiness Heals.

There is a lot of science behind why happiness is important to your health.  But first, you have to give yourself permission to be happy.  No, really!  It’s amazing how many incredible women hold themselves back from diving into happiness.  And if you live with chronic illness, happiness can be hard to achieve or maintain or experience, especially on those days when you physically feel crappy.  

I hope you take a stand for your happiness and here are few takeaways from today’s episode:

  1. Give yourself permission to be happy.  Right now.
  2. Action is more important than knowledge (I know how to do a sit up, but I do not have six pack abs!).  
  3. Outside circumstances contribute only about 10% toward our sense of happiness.  
  4. Data shows people who are happy have more energy, are more creative, are faster, more accurate, heal quicker, have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, live longer, and so much more.  
  5. Three primary happiness destroyers are comparison-itis, lack of close friendships, and holding onto resentment.  Like you didn’t already know that!
  6. People who have faced great adversity actually have higher rates of happiness than those who have not faced great adversity.  
  7. “You can either give up, or work for change.”  - Michelle Obama   

Don’t give up on your happiness!


Hey beautiful and welcome to finally effing happy. A podcasting community for kick ass can do women living with chronic illness. I am happiness coach and self care strategist Shannon Klenk. And I will share with you some of my personal journey to joy with chronic illness, while hosting some amazing guest speakers, sharing tons of happiness hacks and self care strategies, so you too, can live in joy and happiness, despite whatever chronic illness you may be living with day to day, I am absolutely thrilled that you were here for today's episode. 


Today, we're going to talk about the all elusive happiness. I mean, if I'm going to start a podcast called finally effing happy, what am I effing talking about? You hear people say all the time, I want to be happy. I want my kids to be happy. I'm just looking for some happiness here. But what does that even mean? So I looked it up in the dictionary, which, to be honest, was totally not helpful. It says its the state of being happy. Well, that's great. So now I had to go look up the word happy, and it said feeling or showing pleasure and contentment. It then goes on to use words like a sense of confidence and satisfaction. I can be happy about something or happy with something or happy to do something or happy as a, fill in the blank. You probably know what makes you feel happy. But what really is happiness.  It's almost easier to tell you what it is not. 


Happiness is not just the absence of negative emotions. Happiness is not that Pollyanna, not living in reality, actually refusing to see or acknowledge negative emotions. It is definitely not denial. It is so much more than all of those things. If I were to say to you happiness is fill in the blank, what would your answer be? It's an odd thing about happiness, we seem to be able to identify when we are unhappy, almost easier than being able to identify when we are happy. Like sometimes we're happy, and we might miss it. 


But whatever your definition of happiness, right now, I'm going to take a minute to try and convince you to take a stand for your happiness. I know that may sound kind of crazy, because everybody wants happiness at some level. But I gotta tell you, the number of women that I talked to, who have slowly, one disappointment at a time, one broken promise to themselves one unfulfilled dream at a time, let the shine, the beauty, the brilliance of the happiness that they dreamed of slowly dim. And that's especially true for us kick ass can do women who live with chronic illness. I know personally, but I don't want that for you. And I sure don't want that for me. You know, if you listened to my first episode that just over 10 years ago, I was 40 years old walking around with a suicide hotline number in my pocket. I knew there was lots to be grateful for. I knew that there was good in the world, but I just couldn't feel it. I just couldn't see it. And I felt horrible and a little embarrassed about that. Physically, I was at my weakest. And that continued to feed my depression. I was reading Michelle Obama's book this weekend Becoming and she writes, “...a deep weariness bred from a thousand small disappointments over time”. Oh, man, I so related with those words. And, “...a bitterness that comes from every goal you couldn't achieve, and every compromise you've had to make”. She wrote those words in context to a different scenario. But I identified from the bottom of my soul with those words.  For every goal I couldn't achieve because my body just couldn't do it and every compromise I've had to make, because I couldn't show up for one reason or another in the way that I wanted to. I lived with a deep, deep weariness, and a bitterness and a cynicism but I didn't share it a lot. Because who wants to be the heavy one?  Who wants to be the drag? Not me. So I would put on my sunshine, put on my smile, share with optimism. But there is indeed a weariness that comes from living with the unfixable. And when you live with chronic illness, there are things that I just don't have the power to fix.

I can't make myself have more white blood cells or platelets. I can't eat the right diet, do the right exercise, get enough sleep, hydrate, pray, think the correct way, in order to magically manifest white blood cells? Well, truth to be honest, as my son would say, I do believe that on some spiritual plane somewhere miracles are possible. However, if I lean too far into the philosophy that I can think my way out of this condition, and year after year, I still have the condition, then I start to feel like a failure, and it actually feeds that sense of depression and hopelessness. Especially when I was 40, walking around with the suicide hotline in my pocket, it sure was feeding that sense of hopelessness and depression. 


So I know what it takes to take a stand for your own happiness, to take a stand for your own joy, to make a choice to be willing to see the good that does exist, and to nurture that good. And that's why my most favorite definition of happiness is the purposeful cultivation and tending to the good. And I don't know exactly which day it was that I made a decision to take a stand for my own happiness. But it surely happened. And I began to implement these little practices that I'll share with you over time. And then lo and behold, one day, I could see goodness, and I could feel beauty around me. And it started with me giving me permission to be happy. So I give you permission to feel happy, right now to see joy to look for the good. And I encourage you, I implore you, I support you in giving yourself permission to be happy right now. So I don't know. Try this. Say it out loud with me. Okay. And if you're not in a place where you can say it out loud, don't worry, say it in your head. I give myself permission to be happy right now. I do. I give myself permission to be totally completely, unequivocally, soul fulfillingly happy - right now. Breathe that in for a second. I promise you even that tiny little affirmation can make a huge difference in your life. 


But I'm going to spend the next few minutes trying to convince you to not give up on your happiness. Women share with me all the time that they know that they have a lot to be grateful for, like they have a really good life. Maybe they have a family and home and a job or some portions of their dreams really have come true. Yet, they don't really feel happy. They feel like there's something more or something missing. I know when I got to that point. I had done therapy, wonderful weekend workshops, meditation practices, Louise Hay affirmations, you name it, I tried it. But still something felt like it was missing. And I'm not one to string people along. So I'm going to get right to it here and tell you here's what's missing or what was missing for me. action and consistency. It doesn't sound very sexy or easy, does it? No, it didn't to me either. But when I started to dive into the Science of Happiness, positive psychology, mixed it up with all of that learning. I already knew from the weekend workshops and meditation trainings and inspirational books that I had read and took that information and actually started doing it. That's when I really started to take a stand for my happiness. Once again, I'm totally getting ahead of myself here. So let's take a few minutes and talk about why fighting for your happiness is totally worth it. And if nothing else, how it benefits your health and the lives of those you love. A lot of times we think, or commonly we think, that happiness comes from the outside, it comes from our health, it comes from having the right job or the right relationship or living in the perfect house, or when I reach a certain goal weight, or my bank account looks like a certain number. However, science tells us that it's not necessarily the outside stuff that actually brings us happiness. Yes, science, there's an entire body of work. That is what you've probably commonly heard today as positive psychology. And this science most definitely says, the outside stuff is not the primary predictor of our happiness. The outside stuff actually only contributes about 10%, toward our sense of happiness. Genetics also plays a role that the greatest predictor of your happiness, as I mentioned earlier, is the lens with which you and I used to look at all that outside stuff. How do you feel about your life? How is that lens that you are looking at your life through? Is it one that nurtures you, and supports you, or one that exhausts you. And if it really is the lens with which we look at our life, wouldn’t you want the best lens with which to look at your life through that's going to bring you joy, and fulfillment and connection and purpose. It would be like saying, for all of you sisters out there who are 40, and over and your eyesight is starting to go bad. And you go to the pharmacy and try on all of those readers. And you're like, I know the 2.0 really makes everything clear. But I'm going to stick with the 1.0 lenses just because. I know.  You would choose the best lens for where you're at the lens that brings the most clarity and makes your life easier and better.  Why?  Because when you're looking at your life, through that lens of positivity, or gratitude, or hope, or connection and relationship, there's scientific data that tells us we feel happier. And here's the thing about feeling happier. When we have a positive state of mind, we have a more energy, which for most of us women living with chronic illness, we would love some more energy. Be we have greater creativity and see our intelligence is higher. Oh my gosh, some days I feel like I am the queen of brain fog. There's data behind this that says those who are in a positive state of mind or report themselves as being happy, have 30% higher sales for those who work in sales industries. Are there 19% faster and more accurate. I mean, I'm not even in a profession that requires me to be faster and more accurate. I would just love to be faster and more accurate. Around my kitchen, in my home, taking care of medical records, following up on my son's schoolwork. I mean, if it's free, I just have to put some effort into it and have a lot less brain fog, I’m in. So there are so many benefits to this positive lens. Another piece of the science that I just absolutely love is that when we are happy, and it doesn't matter whether we're watching America's Funniest Home Videos, which my husband put on last night, because I needed to pick me up, or whether we are enjoying the quiet beauty of a snowfall. Either way, when we are experiencing that moment of happiness, dopamine floods into our body. And it turns on all of that creativity, and all of that intelligence and all of that energy for you and I to live with and use in our day.  Do you want some of that girlfriend?  I totally want some more of that in my life. And I know when I'm cultivating and trying to live from that space, there are ripple effects of positivity in my life and the life of the people around me. The science also tells us that people who report being happy or have this positive mind frame, they have lower rates of cardiovascular disease, they have fewer injuries, they heal faster, they live longer. Yes, please, I want some of that. 


Well, if I want some of that, what do I have to do? Well, here's the thing that I know, anything that I do well, I do often. Anything that you do really well, you likely do really often. So as crazy as it sounds, how do we get good at practicing happiness? Well, if you listen to my first episode, you know that when I was 40, I was coming out of a relationship. My illness had gotten really, really bad, it hadn't been properly diagnosed yet. And I was in a really depressive state, walking around with a suicide hotline number in my pocket. And I had a moment where I knew that I had a choice, I could stay in that place. Or despite how I felt, I could take some actions contrary to the way that I felt, and start practicing some of these quote unquote, happiness hacks. And I actually made it a mission to see how good I could get at happiness. And I gotta tell you, most of the time, I've gotten pretty good at it. Now the honest truth is that it comes and goes and ebbs and flows. But that woman who was so exhausted, and so depressive, because she just couldn't get healthy and couldn't quite figure it out. She's almost nowhere to be seen ever these days. In future episodes, I'll go through each of these happiness hacks in depth. And to be honest, I'm sure many of them you've already heard of. But the real question is, are you doing them, that's where I, this podcast, and this sisterhood can provide the motivation and support so that you can consistently get into action around these things that you know, will help. And I want that for you. I want it for me, I want it for all of us. 


Okay, we're gonna take a slight left turn here. So far, we've been talking about all of those reasons why your happiness matters for you, for your health, and for all the people that you love. But we're gonna take a quick second and talk about those things that destroy our happiness. And let's start with the biggest joy killer of them all comparison-itis. It is scientifically known as one of the number one happiness killers. 


The other one is lack of close friendships. And that's one of the primary reasons why I've started Finally effing happy, which is, yes, this podcast, but also a community for kick-ass, can-do women who are living with chronic illness. I don't know about you, but I was raised in a fiercely independent culture, I took great pride in my strength and independence as a woman, and I still do today. But what that meant for me is I didn't always reach out for help. I often didn't share how I was really feeling because I didn't want to be a drag. And then as a result, I didn't always feel super close or connected, or really know how to nurture those relationships when physically I was feeling so low. And that all fed that little voice in my head that said, it was just me alone, against the world. And so it wasn't until the rug was really pulled out from underneath me in life, and in my health, that I learned to reach out and create these connections that just fuel my soul, fuel my heart, bolster my health, and I can't wait to share some of these amazing women with you in future podcasts. 


But let's get back to happiness. So the last joy killer is holding on to resentments. And I've got a bevy of happiness hacks to help you let go of those resentments. But I want to make sure that I am not being misleading here. So what about negative emotions? Is it bad to have negative emotions? No, not at all. Everybody has them. Sometimes when we have them, we think I'm doing something quote unquote, wrong. But we're not.  They are natural. It made so much sense to me when I heard that, as babies, we have an emotion and we experience it. But as adults, we have an emotion, and we suppress it. Especially when it comes to my health. I think, ‘Shannon you got to hold it together. You got to hold it together. Just hold it together’. We're going to get through this as opposed to feeling those feelings acknowledging those feelings. Almost embracing those feelings and welcoming them in. 


And that in my coaching is something that I walk people through hand in hand, to find that place of comfort and grace with those negative emotions as we walk this journey towards joy. So I give you permission, I hope you give you permission to feel those negative feelings when they do come up. I've heard it said that what we resist persists. And if that is true, I have had some patterns of thinking in the past that I don't want to persist. I want it to stop. How about you? Do you have any of those?  And so maybe I should stop resisting it, welcome it in, face it head on. And to be honest, I've had much greater success with this approach than so many others that I've tried. And I know you will, too. I also find it kind of fascinating and a little bit creepy, that if you think about it, our society, like our economy, requires that we never really get happy. Because if we get happy, then we don't buy more stuff. So everything around us is trying to convince us not to be happy. How crazy is that? 


And so I don't know about you, but I want to hang in a sisterhood of women who are capable and willing and interested in hearing through all that riff raff, so that we can connect in a more joyful place in our life, regardless of what's going on around us. 


So what are some of those elements of happiness? Well, they include things like courage, and optimism, this funny balance between how you view the future matched with an ability to be in the right now, interpersonal skills and communication skills with close relationships, our work ethic, hope, honesty, perseverance. I am sure you have many of these qualities to some degree. But if you're anything like me, it ebbs and flows. And living with chronic illness, whatever is going on with me physically, can impact any one of those on any given day. So when I take time in any one of these areas, hope, perseverance, being able to stay in the now, I bolster, I strengthen my emotional, my psychological immune system.  We spend a lot of time talking about superfoods and supplements and things we can do to bolster our immune system. But what about our psychological and emotional immune system.  Finally Effing Happy is all about what we can do together to bolster our psychological and emotional immune systems, and have some fun in the process. But even when my emotional and psychological immune system is strong, it doesn't mean that I'm not going to get sick. I have a primary immunodeficiency, which means there are significant parts of my immune system that don't exist and don't function, right. So I'm gonna get sick. But what it does mean is that I will recover quicker, and anything I can do that will help me recover quicker, so I can be with my family, my friends, doing the things that I enjoy, and that I love, I am totally willing to put effort toward, especially since all of these things are free. And as someone who spent a lot of her life managing medical bills, as many of us have, that free part's really important to me. And I'm serious. As I mentioned before, I wasn't properly diagnosed until I was a little over 40, which meant I've spent the bulk of my life being sick. And for a lot of that time, I was a single parent living paycheck to paycheck, penny to penny. So anything that I could do that was free, but would help my mindset, lift my spirit, give me energy and contribute to better health, I was willing to try it. And I've basically taken that process, where I identified the different things that spoke to my soul that my body responded to, that lifted my spirits, I created a superstructure, a scaffolding around those things, so that I could consistently implement them into my day, regardless of how I was physically feeling. And I've created a program whereby you can do the same thing. And I'm not here to tell you, you should do this kind of exercise or try any supplements or any of that kind of stuff. I'm here to walk you through a process where you get to identify what those things are that speak to your soul, that lift your spirit. That your body responds the most effectively to, and then build that same structure, that same scaffolding around those things that you love. So that you can do them consistently and effectively, regardless of what might be going on with your body on any given day. And I'd encourage you to try lots of different things along the way. And I'm sure you already have. So let's take that collective wisdom from all of us kick ass women, to bolster and support each other.  But you may be saying, I've tried everything already. 


This is indeed a journey. If you're a one with chronic illness like I am, you know that chronic illness is about the long haul. And so is this journey, to find joy in the midst of it. This is not some quick sprint to the bus, or some magic pill that's going to make it all better. This is about doing that heart work, that is going to unlock and ignite all of the learning, all of the knowing that you already have, but actually put it into action in little small baby steps. So it really is doable. And I promise you that it is, I promise you because I've done it. And I've walked other women through it as well. But here's the thing that may sound a little contradictory. I say, feel your feelings, even the negative ones. But happiness is about having a positive attitude. Well, how is that even possible that both of those go together.  Here's how they go together. I can feel my feelings, including all the really hard ones or negative ones, especially the ones to do with my health, from fear of things that I'm missing out on or just frustration in general with some of the limitations put in my life for my chronic illness, I can feel those feelings, because I take the time to nurture those habits that make it possible for me to find, nurture, and use the absolute best lens with which to look at my life. And depending on the day, and what's going on with my health, or my home, or my family or my job, I might need a different set of lenses. And so I have to make sure I have a really rich and robust toolbox of strategies and happiness hacks to fuel my life. And when I'm using the best lens to look at my outside situation, quite frankly, I'm happier. Not only does science tell me, so I know it from my own personal experience. 


And when I'm happy, I have more energy, less brain fog, more creativity, I can show up for the people that I love. And then I'm able to feel those negative emotions when they do arise. I acknowledge them. I honor them. I give them their moment. And then they can pass on through. And I can get back to all the things that I love. And here's the mystery of it. The more that I practice these happiness hacks, the less I have those negative emotions and even need to put that cycle in motion. And let's be clear, nothing on the outside of my life has changed than the lens with which I see my life. And because of that, I get to enjoy so much more of my life, even with my chronic illness. So although that may sound crazily contradictory, I promise you somehow it works. 


One last piece of science for you that's filled with a lot of hope. The data shows that those of us who have faced great adversity, actually report to being happier. So if for some reason, you're not feeling that happiness right now, know that it's possible for you. And not only is it possible, it's possible beyond what you can imagine. But like we talked about earlier, remember to always give yourself permission. Have you ever had one of those moments where you've sort of stood right at the edge of happiness, but wouldn't let yourself cross that line and you sort of pulled back somewhere along the line. So many of us got this message that we needed to put a cap on our happiness or some kind of ceiling on just how happy we could be. And I challenge you to blast through that self imposed happiness ceiling and see just how much joy, confidence, contentment you can experience day-to-day, even with the challenges of whatever chronic condition you live with. 


It's been so much fun spending a few minutes with you all sharing some of this science and some of my personal experience, and how it weaves together so that I could finally effing be happy even with my chronic condition. And I'm going to leave you with one more quote from Michelle Obama's book Becoming.  She writes, “You either give up, or you work for change”. And so my Finally Effing Happy paraphrase of that quote, is that you either give up, you let your happiness the sparkle fade, or you work for change. You get into action.  You get the support you need to keep you motivated. And you work for that change, so that you can know a happiness beyond anything you've known before. And finally effing be happy. 


So if you found anything in this podcast useful, uplifting, hopeful, please, please, please write a review so that other women living with chronic conditions can find this podcast too.  Or even better take a screenshot, post on your Facebook or Instagram or whatever your jam is. If you want to hang out some more, come join me in my facebook group. Again, it's a totally free, private group. And you can find it at  But if Facebook isn't your thing, but you still want to stay posted on what's happening at Finally Effing Happy, you can join my email list at  And I promise never ever to send you any spam or share this list with anybody because that would be the opposite of happiness. 


And until next time, remember to look for the good and to always be kind to you.

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