How to Be a Better You Without Changing a Thing

July 2017

Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett

Sam Bennett is the author of Start Right Where You Are and Get It Done and creator of The Organized Artist Company. Visit startrightwhereyouare.com for more information.

Deb wants to feel more peaceful. She wants a life filled with laughter and tender moments. She wants to be less self-sacrificing and more self-nourishing. Yet every day she’s exhausted, stressed out, and overwhelmed.

She gets everything done for everyone else, but the projects that matter most to her—prayer, exercise, creative projects—fall off the list completely. She feels like she doesn’t have any time to devote to herself. She thinks that would be selfish. She’s wrong.

What’s truly selfish is Deb walking around tired and drained. After all, the rest of us have to deal with her when she’s like that, and it’s not much fun. When Deb shows up rested, fed, meditated, calm, cuddled, and creatively fulfilled, she brings the best version of herself to her life. She is able to be truly present and listen. She is calmer and has a sense of humor about things. Truly, Deb taking care of herself is the opposite of selfish.

The same is true of you. It can be challenging to find the time and will to put yourself first, but here are a few simple, do-it-right-now tips to help you start taking better care of yourself:

Try 4:7:8 Breathing

It goes like this: Inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of seven, and exhale for a count of eight. You can just do it once and get a nice effect, although I usually like to do it three times. You can also keep going and repeat the cycle as many times as you like.

I have been doing this breathing pattern for more than 20 years, and it has helped me through panic attacks, bumpy airplane rides, Los Angeles traffic, audition jitters, and insomnia. It’s a miracle worker.

Inspiration shares a root word with respiration, and it is no accident that a deep breath can both relax us and bring us closer to God.

Ask yourself: How Can I Make This Moment More Me?

Sometimes the question, “What do I want?” can feel confusing. But asking yourself, How can I make this moment more me? gives you a chance to be just one percent more present and more authentic right away. This might mean that you are a touch more quirky and delightful, or perhaps it means you let your more serious side show.

Try it now: How can I make the outfit I’m wearing more me? This email I’m sending? This conversation? This dinner?

When you show up more fully in your life, you allow the richness of your personality to show, and you know that people love seeing the “real you.” Plus, you will automatically feel more engaged and more genuine.

God doesn’t make junk. Your unique personality, physicality, and disposition are an expression of God’s love. The more fully you can lean in to the truth of you, the more you honor the gift of your life.

Make Five-Minute Art

This Five-Minute Art concept is one of the most useful ideas I can share with you. Here’s the plan: The next time you feel stuck, take five minutes and make some art about how you are feeling. Draw a picture, write a poem, do a dance, make up a song, or get out the clay and make some shapes.

This art does not have to be good. Why? Because feelings just want to be felt. Once a feeling knows that it’s been felt, it can graduate, get promoted, and get a better job. On the other hand, when you keep your feelings locked away, they often grow stronger, darker, and more powerful. Worse yet, whatever steps you take to avoid your feelings will end up sabotaging you.

So making some Five-Minute Art is a quick way to activate your pressure-release valve.

Kathleen told me that after one particularly difficult day at work, she came home and drew her feelings. The drawing was of her, kneeling, and coworkers hurling projects and deadlines at her like cannonballs. It gave her clarity to see how attacked and vulnerable she was feeling. So she got inspired to make a second drawing—this one with her surrounded by a force field that protected her. She told me the invisible shield was God’s love. The minute she remembered that no matter what happened at work, she was protected by the love of God, she was able to calm down, stay centered, and continue to do good work without being distracted.

The world needs your best self, so please—take good care of you. Okay?