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HPR 173 | Gratitude, Health, Happiness

Heartrepreneur® Radio | Episode 173 | Living A Grateful, Healthy, And Happy Life with Shauna Marie MacDonald

HPR 173 | Gratitude, Health, Happiness


Not all of us are blessed with good health and happiness, and that is why only a person with a grateful heart can see adversities positively. Cancer patients can either view their illness as the endgame and dread every single day battling it or turn that viewpoint from a struggle to a blessing and live to the fullest. This is how Shauna Marie MacDonald’s late husband positively dealt with cancer which in turn motivated her to start her journey in touching lives with genuine happiness and gratitude. The owner of Happy by Design, Shauna shares with us her 8 Essential Pillars To Be Truly Healthy and Happy program. Also the bestselling author of The Game Changer, Shauna dives deep into the value of gratitude and how having it can change your personal and work life.

Listen to the podcast here:
Living A Grateful, Healthy, And Happy Life with Shauna Marie MacDonald

We have Shauna Marie MacDonald. Shauna is an international bestselling author and she has eight essential pillars to be truly healthy and happy. Shauna, welcome.

Thank you, Sam. It’s so wonderful to be here. I appreciate it.

We were talking about gratitude and adversity and you started talking that you work with cancer patients. Tell us about that.

I had a time with my ex-husband, he was ill with cancer, and he said something to me while we were having a conversation. It’s that cancer gave him more than it took. He knew he was going to die and I was floored by that. Afterwards, I started looking for other people that had the same experience and there are many. It just surprised me. Where do people go from having cancer being the worst thing in their life and then saying, “I’m going to do something with this?”

I think these are lessons because you’ve transferred them into business and we had this all the time in business as well. When I lost my job, I was sitting there at the HR lady’s desk filling out all the papers, having an emotional breakdown going, “How am I paying my bills?” She says, “You’re going to one day say this was the best thing ever.” Several years owning my own business, it was the best thing ever.

You didn’t know it at the time and most of us don’t know when we’re going through it, but life is a business. We have to do the same things in business as we do in our life. Yes, it would transfer adversity and gratitude. Gratitude is one of my big things because when I started researching this and speaking to people who had cancer, all the leaders in society and the ones that have made a difference in the lives of the greater good, that gratitude is the one thing they have in common. A lot of the others, they are not in alignment, but gratitude is the one. I thought, “There’s something here. I need to look further into gratitude.” It made my life better. It makes my family life better. If something’s good, I’ll stick with it.

HPR 173 | Gratitude, Health, Happiness
Gratitude, Health, Happiness: You can have the downs, but try contributing a little further and you’re going to feel better.


Is gratitude one of your eight pillars to being healthy and happy? Share some of the pillars and how you apply them.

Relationships and love, health and wellness, community and contribution, work and career, they go on through that. I think for me, as far as the gratitude goes, it’s a thread that runs through everything, like relationships and love. Those are the same thing, but they’re not the same thing. You and I are in a relationship. You have a relationship with a partner or friends, or work relationships. Love. We can love a flower. We can go looking for love, we can miss love. I believe that love and gratitude are intrinsically entwined. It’s like a weave on a coat that if you’re pulling one thread, you’re going to affect the other. It’s finding gratitude in adversity, maybe it’s in work like what you experienced or cancer or an illness or a family member is just driving you crazy. If you can figure out something that you are grateful for this person, maybe you’re grateful that you don’t have to be around them 24/7. That’s a piece of gratitude. It’s a way to get through a situation that you need to become your higher self instead of your lower self-worth which is always easier to be resonating at a lower self. Take your step up.

You’ve worked with business owners. You’ve also worked with cancer patients. What difference have you noticed having gratitude and not having gratitude? What have you noticed as the difference in maybe outcomes and success rates? Having that gratitude, especially in that intense moment of crisis, what does that do for someone?

What it does is it softens your reaction. If you are triggered by something or someone, it could be someone at the office, a family member or just being ill. Finding out that you’re sick or someone you love is sick, it’s almost sitting lower into a chair and realizing, “I can get through this. I’m supported. I don’t know where or how because I don’t know the mechanics of how they put this chair together, but I know that I’m going to be okay. I have an option.” I can stand up, I can sit down, I can go to my boss or sit this person down if it’s a work-related thing and say, “We have a problem here.” You look at more as we. It’s not, “You are a big problem here and I’m going to take care of it.” If you look at gratitude, you say, “I’m going to be grateful for this person and I really don’t know why, but at this moment, I’m going to soften into my chair and take it from there instead of getting on my high horse or being stumped by that horse.” Gratitude has a way of making you part of the situation instead of above and below the situation.

I think I get it. Basically, it takes us out of fight or flight or freeze in the brain and we have access to more emotional and mental resources on how to handle the situation.

Fight, flight and freeze do not coexist with gratitude.

The eight pillars we talked about love and relationships, how are they different? What’s another pillar?

Another pillar is community and contribution. This is one of my favorites because the community part of it, they’ve done the research and one of the longest-running studies is the Harvard study. Community is one of the pillars so to speak that have kept people living the longest. They did this study where they started out just with the men and their lives and what it ended up being. Some of them had substance abuse, some of them lost their marriage, had an illness, but the one thing that was consistent with them was they were in the community. Maybe they were in the community with their Harvard people, but they were still with their wives. Everything is a community.

When you are in the sense of a community, if it’s serving you, things are better. You are then more grateful for this community. The contribution side of it is the same thing that if you’re talking with someone, a friend, a colleague. You’re actually feeling, “I can do something. I can help them or they can help me. We can serve one another.” You’re contributing. When you’re contributing, it’s a reason to get up in the morning. It’s called an ikigai. It sounds a funny little word, but it’s the reason to get up in the morning.

In North America, we think that when we’re 65, we no longer have a reason to do things. In Asian cultures, they don’t kick people out of the communities. It’s just a different way of living that if you can contribute, if you can be part of the community, and it doesn’t matter what that community is. It could be cooking, it could be running a business. It’s still a community. Even your friends or going outside, here in Canada it’s called clearing someone’s walk. If it’s warm, it’s smiling at someone, being kind. That’s being part of something greater community-wise and contributing. If you’re in a community and you’re contributing, your life will get better. It doesn’t have anywhere to go but up. You can have the downs but try contributing a little further and you’re going to feel better.

I totally agree with you. While you were speaking, my grandmother came to mind and she lived a long life at 94. She started a charity in her 50s right after my grandfather passed and I remember it was the eve before a big holiday. She was always in bed by 9:00. When we came home, the house was pitch black. She was gone and the car was gone on the eve before a big holiday. She showed up an hour later and she was like, “Cash donations for my hospital.” She was raising money for mentally handicapped kids at her hospital and she was like, “They donate on holidays. What do you expect me to do?” I think that’s why she lived so long.

The basis of your ikigai, which is a reason to get up in the morning, is that you’re contributing. If you’re contributing, you’re a part of the community because you can’t give something without there being someone on the other end.

I understand what you’re saying. Sometimes we can carry ourselves, but sometimes we need the other connections that we’ve made to carry us. Sometimes life’s going our way, but sometimes it’s nice to have those other connections, whether it’s to vent or just get lost in someone else’s problems instead of our own that day.

It is nice once in a while to do that. You never know when you’re going to need someone. You don’t do things in order to get something back or you’ll flop at that one, but you don’t know how you affect someone, how you make a difference. It comes back around you because the universe is made up of energy as is everything else, so it doesn’t necessarily come back from the same person. You feel that love somewhere else. My granddaughter said to me, “Why do you like gratitude, and why are you so kind?” I spoke with her, but I said. “It takes work. It takes effort.” Her little head was going sideways. “Why does it take work? Why isn’t it easy?” She didn’t understand why something that was lovely to her took work. She said, “I feel better because sometimes it’s hard for me to be nice to my brother.” She got the message.

How do people find you?

Love and gratitude are intrinsically entwined, like a weave on a coat that if you're pulling one thread, you're going to affect the other. Click To Tweet

They can find me on my website, which is

This has been great. We have Heartrepreneur businesses, so Heart Entrepreneurs, people doing business with their heart. What does doing business with your heart means for you?

It means that my life is enriched for me and for those I love and touch.

Having the heart enriches your life more. Shauna, thank you so much for being on our show.

Thank you. I appreciate your time and your excellent questions. You are good at this.

For our audiences, thanks for tuning in to Heartrepreneur Radio. Make sure you subscribe and when you like our podcast, five-star reviews are awesome. You can also go to Facebook at Heartrepreneurs with Terri Levine and connect with more heart-centered business owners like Shauna. I am Sam Mak. You can find out more about me at I hope you have a great day.

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About Shauna Marie MacDonald
HPR 173 | Gratitude, Health, HappinessShauna Marie’s inherent need for expression emerged by way of the custom home building company she operated with her husband Ron for 26 years. Designing and decorating homes became her crea-tive outlet while raising three daughters.
After Shauna’s divorce and their children grown, the evolution of and new and exciting outlets of expression emerged: Travel, Interaction and Writing
In 2011 Shauna explored Europe for ten months. This pivotal experience opened new doors of creativity by way of the written word and communicating with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds.
A native Canadian, Shauna currently resides in Calgary, Canada near her eldest daughter, cherished grandchildren and friends. Yearly trips to visit daughter 2 & 3 in St.Louis USA and Barcelona, Spain enables Shauna to connect with Europe and indulge her passion for travel.
Shauna’s writing and coaching pursuits evolved naturally by way of sharing her unique take on living in her beloved Italy. Walking 800 km through France and Spain along the Camino de Santiago Trial, step by step giving her the opportunity to hear what others felt about life all the while listening to her own inner wisdom.
Get Your Life Back After Cancer, stems from the loss of her ex-husband, Ron. During the final days of his life, he shared a profound realization that for him “Cancer Gave More Than It Took”.
After his death and the inspiration of his words, Shauna began researching scientifically proven and effective wholistic processes to a healthy lifestyle. Shauna coaches her clients on The 8 Essential Pillars To Be Truly Healthy & Happy.
Connect with Shauna Marie:


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