“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

-Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement speech 2005

 “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

-Dr. Suess

 The keys to our health, healing and highest vitality are within our domain—not that of our healthcare system, our doctor or guru. They are ours.

We live in a society where we often place the greatest power into the hands of the authority figures in our lives: the doctors, the politicians, the religious leaders or news celebrities who tell us how to think about things and how to live our lives.

However, throughout history, the greatest leaders, those who offer something of true value, inspire us to look within. This is their lesson:

We must first place the power for healing and change where it belongs: within ourselves.

By developing self-awareness and a steady routine of self-care practices, we take ownership of our health and personal growth. When we do not own responsibility for our personal care, we lose power to others. This makes us excessively vulnerable to the values, judgments, biases and potential mistakes of those who may not know what is best for us. By knowing ourselves, we learn what is best for achieving our highest potential.

Thus, just as the Liftoff self-care practices are our freedom and empowerment, they are also our responsibility.

It is a privilege that we have the opportunity to take our healthcare to such high levels. My kids would say to me that many of the things I write about, the obstacles we face in taking care of ourselves at the highest level, are “first world problems.” What they mean is that for most of us in developed parts of the world our subsistence and safety needs are met. This is a profound advantage that supports our quest to discover our highest potential. Combined with amazing advances in what we know about how to achieve better health, we are lucky. We can ascend to higher levels of wellness—and move closer to our highest level of development as human beings.

Our good fortune raises the bar for us in terms of taking greater responsibility for ourselves and living our full potential.

This is not just for ourselves. Our optimal health and vitality are necessary in this world. We are part of multiple synergistic relationships with those around us. Our full participation is important. This means we must be our best selves! There will never be another person like each of us with the exact blend of talents, skills and life purpose. With the resources we have at our fingertips, we have no real excuses.

We have choices. Never before in the history of mankind has a society had the kinds of freedoms, information and opportunities that we do. For us to limit ourselves is a shame and an unnecessary loss to the world.

We need to be the best of who we are. Creating our best health and vitality through sound self-care practices is the fertile ground for this process.

KARYN SHANKS MD

Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the science of Functional Medicine, body-mind principles, and wisdom gleaned from the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-five-year career. Her work honors each individual and the power of their stories, their inner wisdom, and innate healing potential. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves. She is the author of Liftoff, a manual of energy recovery and healing through essential self-care practices.