A Reflection on Happiness

I have started a new journey recently, a spiritual journey. This journey has led me to the book "The Art of Happiness" by Dr Howard Cutler and the 14th Dalai Lama, and it has had a profound affect on my outlook on life and how I approach the decisions I make. 

The particular lesson that had the biggest affect on me, was the Dalai Lama's view on how to achieve happiness, and differentiating between things that bring us pleasure, and things that make us truly happy. Now you may think "what's the difference? Things that bring me pleasure make me happy".  But I urge you to spend a moment considering the difference between the two.

The best example I have identified with is the path my own life has been on for the past few years. In 2012, my husband and I decided to quit our jobs, turn our lives upside down, and move 10 hours north to Byron Bay. We made this decision rather quickly, going on instinct and a "fear of missing out", really. Life had been tough for the both of us in the few years preceding this decision, we needed change, and we were constantly bombarded with pictures and stories by friends on social media who were travelling the world, and experiencing endless adventures., while we were just working and studying. Clearly, they were happier than us and it was time to make a change. When I look back on it, I guess we were running to what we thought were greener pastures.

And the pastures were greener. Byron Bay is beautiful. We had white sandy beaches, world famous surf breaks, pandanus trees, local markets, like minded health conscious communities, warm weather, we lived on a farm and had cows all around...life was good. But the shine wore off, and all of these things became normal. The crowded surf began to bother us. The crowds of the Byron Bay holiday makers and back packers began to bother us. We began to miss our closest family and friends. The "happiness" wore off. They say the same thing happens if you win millions on lotto.

So why did this happen? I have been pondering this, and I now realise that the decision we made to move to Byron Bay was based on pleasure. It was pleasurable to live there in such beautiful place. But did that pleasure equal happiness?

I wrote a list of the things that make me happy. There were only four things:

1. Being surrounded by family and our closest friends, watching our nieces, nephews and friends children grow up, and having them surround our own future children.

2. Having plenty of quality time with my husband, so we can make our relationship a priority.

3. Being able to help those who most need my help.

4. Creating a lifestyle that allows me to maintain a healthy mind and body.

And it dawned on me: Although living in Byron Bay was very pleasurable, it didn't tick off anything on my happiness list. I had none of my family or closest friends around. I was commuting 10 hours a week on top of working up to 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, leaving very little time for maintaining a healthy mind and body, or spending time with my husband. And although I was helping many people, I had to commute 100km each way in order to do this.

So we moved back to the Central Coast. And whilst Byron Bay will always hold a special place in my heart, and living there for 3 years helped shape the person I am now, I feel deeply happy to be back where I started. Where I have my family and friends, a balanced lifestyle, and feel I am making a real difference in my community by offering a healthcare approach that the Central Coast hasn't had until now. I am living a life that is congruent with the things that bring happiness, rather than things that bring pleasure. And the pleasure of Byron Bay is just a weekend escape away after all :)

So I challenge you to face up to the choices you make. Are they based on pleasure, or happiness? Will watching tv on the lounge instead of going for a walk bring you pleasure, or happiness? Will that episode of impulse shopping bring you pleasure or happiness? If your goal this year is to eat healthy, will eating that piece of cake bring you pleasure or happiness? These are all small decisions that you can start questioning, before moving to the big picture. But every decision will add to your happiness cup, and I know you all want happiness. It is the essence of humanity, after all. We search for it. 

Enjoy the awakening this approach to life brings.


with infinite love and gratitude,


Dr Katie McManus 


Simple Steps to Make the Most of 2015!

It feels as though time is getting faster. Surely we only just waved in the year of 2014? How can we be waving farewell so quickly?!

If you look back over your year, was it a success? Were there things you would do differently? Perhaps some things you didn't achieve? Well, luckily for you, 2015 is here, and so is another chance to create the life you are searching for.

As a practitioner, I love to see people set goals towards improving their physical and mental health, and I love working with them to achieve their goal.

Our cells constantly regenerate. Our body is always making new cells to replace the ones that are sick, dead or dying. Essentially, every seven years we have had every cell replaced. In other words…… we have a brand new body. There's no reason you can't make changes now, however small, to make your new body in seven years healthier than the one you have now!

So to get you started, here I my tips to make 2015 your best year yet.


Get a pen and paper. Sit down somewhere that makes you feel calm and inspired (Lennox Point? Lake Ainsworth? Perhaps your own balcony?). When writing goals, it's important to do three things:

a) Be specific. Don't just write "Exercise every day". Put in the details. The more specific you are the better. If you want to exercise more, actually write what you want to do. "Go to the gym three times per week (every Monday/Wednesday/Friday) for 1 hour". "Surf every morning". You get the idea.

b) Set a deadline, or a start date. Hold yourself accountable. You will be more likely to achieve it. 

c) Reward yourself for achieving your goal. Giving yourself a "thank you" activates reward-centres in the brain and helps to encourage repeat behaviour. 


Sounds simple, but almost every person I assess is dehydrated, some chronically. Dehydration symptoms can be missed. Do you feel tired all the time? Living in a wave of brain fog? Suffer headaches or migraines? Constipation? Do you have high blood pressure? These are just a few signs of dehydration. My tip for working out the amount of water you should be drinking is to divide your body weight by 25. So if you way 75kg, you should be drinking 3L of water. Make sure you also have access to good salts, such as Himalayan Rock Salt to keep your tissue salts in balance.


It is not uncommon for patients to tell me that before they go to sleep they watch TV, or they read their Kindle or play on their tablet or phone. These are all bad pre-bedtime habits! In order to sleep well, minimise time spent on technology in the last 2 hours before bed (avoid it altogether in the last hour if possible). Do not sleep next to your phone. If you absolutely must use your phone as an alarm clock, put it on aeroplane mode whilst you sleep. Your bedroom should be dark, cool and quiet. If there is a street light shining right on your bed, close the curtains. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day - get your body into a routine. Lavender oil on your pillow can help you drift off, or, better yet, practice meditation or progressive relaxation.


Here we are blessed to be able to buy our food organic from local farmers at markets almost every day of the week. Take advantage of it! You will find me every Thursday morning at Byron Bay Growers Market, grocery shopping has become an outing that I really look forward to and enjoy. Ultimately, if you can't fit organic foods into your budget, at least avoid foods that come in packets. Try to only eat fresh produce. Avoid refined sugar, and minimise your intake of fruit sugar. If I were to summarise, you need to ensure you get your proteins (eggs, meat, fish, quinoa, chia seeds, legumes etc), your good fats (avocado, fatty fish such as salmon, nuts, olives, flaxseeds etc), and complex carbohydrates (sweet potato, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes).


In our modern world it is all too easy to get caught up in an eat-work-sleep cycle. It's important to put the right fuel in your body, but it is equally important to keep your mind happy too. Try not to push aside the things you enjoy doing for the sake of 1 more hour of work. Go for that surf or swim or walk. Take your children to the park. If you aren't mentally happy, your body will start to follow suit, as you hold onto your negative thoughts or emotions. Every body deserves a little time to spend doing the things that release their stress and increase their endorphins. Don't feel guilty! You are worth it! You will find you will work more efficiently during the day and sleep better at night if you do this.

This is your year.

Make it your best yet.

2015 …..  here we come!