I interview wellness authors to find out what makes them tick, and why they write the books they do.
I met G. Brian Benson a month before our publisher, Mango Publishing, released my first book, Depression Hates a Moving Target. He and I shared a booth with several other authors, at the L.A. Times Festival of Books. Like the other authors, he was friendly and welcoming to me, a newbie author, just getting her feet wet. The author of several books, he has a lot of experience and insight to share. I wanted you to hear it from him.
Nita Sweeney (NS): Tell us about your most recent book.
Brian Benson (GBB): My latest book was Habits for Success: Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar, which was published with Mango. And which was how we met! I’m so proud of how the book turned out.
I tried to write it creatively, consciously, and with heart. My goal was to guide the reader to their own personal version of success and happiness, while giving them permission to take their own journey and build a foundation of strength for the long run. So, I tried to be authentic and vulnerable. I shared my own relationship with the habits I talk about, and used ideas and stories to entertain and inspire the reader along the way. I was so pleased that the book was a Grand Prize winner in the 2019 Book Excellence Awards.
NS: What made you want to write this book?
GBB: It just wanted to come out. I have always honored what needs to come out–whether it’s a book, spoken word piece or short film–I don’t sit around and try and come up with an idea for a project. I don’t really have a choice! It comes to me and I look at it as a way to grow, be creative and hopefully help others all at the same time.
NS: What message do you hope readers take away?
GBB: Ultimately with everything that I create, I want folks to come away feeling better about themselves and the world. I know how important self-acceptance and self-love is and if I can empower someone to feel inspired to step out of their comfort zone and begin to see what they are capable of, I have done my job. The beautiful thing is I am gaining so much from it personally as well. I feel like I am a conduit and the words I am writing and sharing, are for me also.
NS: Writing (and life) can be stressful. How do you take care of yourself?
GBB: Lots of things! I don’t think it was an accident that my first book was on a whole bunch of different ways to stay in life balance. It really gave me the opportunity to become more self-aware in this department. I love to move/exercise and it is one of the main ways that helps me stay grounded. Meditation, clean food, boundaries, self-awareness, hiking, plenty of sleep and movies also help.
NS: Do you have a writing tip for the writers out there?
GBB: Sure! Be true to yourself when writing. Write honestly and truthful. Write what wants to come out, not what you think you should write or what you think people want. Folks inherently want authenticity. They may not know this on the surface, but they do. It gives us permission to be authentic ourselves. We all subconsciously crave authenticity, because deep down trying to fight through all of the false modeling that we have been presented via society, advertising, social media, it is our true nature.
NS: What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
GBB: To be honest, I can’t think of anything. I am kind of a self-taught/intuitive writer and haven’t really garnered much advice since I started writing by accident 13 years ago. I think I may have tripped myself up in a variety of ways as I learned how to become a better writer as I progressed though. Expectations, perfectionism are a few that come to mind.
NS: And the best?
GBB: I learned this the hard way. The book or project is for you first and foremost. Let the growth that comes from the journey of creativity be the gift and anything else that happens with it, just be icing on the cake.
NS: Tell us more about your wellness work.
GBB: Sure…thanks! In addition to the 3 self-improvement books I have written, I am also a project and clarity coach and love to help folks realize their goals and dreams. Whether it’s writing a book, creating a presentation, starting a podcast or what have you. I have learned a lot (sometimes the hard way), from all of the projects I have birthed over the course of the last 13 years.
NS: What led you to this path?
GBB: Intuition. I mentioned earlier that I accidentally wrote my first book. In the process of leaving my family business in 2008, I headed into the unknown. I felt out of balance. I sat down one day and wrote 5 things that I knew would help me…and they did. My intuition screamed expand the list and write a book. So, I did!
It won a few awards, which shocked me and I realized that if I wanted to share its message, I needed to overcome my fear of speaking. One thing lead to another as I stepped out of my comfort zone. Before I knew it, I was writing more, moved to LA to act, and began to create a lot of positive media (books, short films, spoken word videos and TEDx presentations). It’s been exciting and surreal. I never would have imagined any of this would happen. I just kept following my gut.
NS: Do you have a motto or slogan you find helpful? If so, how did you arrive at that?
“Be yourself to free yourself!”
GBB: Definitely! “Be yourself to free yourself!” I started using that a long time ago in my work and it consistently reminds myself to live this way. I even have the domain!
NS: What’s the worst wellness (mental health, self-care) advice you’ve ever heard?
GBB: Folks give other people’s advice way too much credence. While some advice is warranted and great, a lot of time people are just sharing their own fears and passing them on to their friends and family. I see it on social media all of the time. Very co-enabling with little chance of really breaking through.
I believe we have most of the answers already inside of us. We just need to get quiet and listen and trust. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
NS: Is there something about coping you wish you’d learned earlier?
GBB: That life is like a big rollercoaster. There are always going to be peaks and valleys. In the past when I would hit a valley, I would try to scratch and claw my way out of it, instead of just sitting with whatever was happening, learn from it and trust that I would move out of it. We always do.
NS: Has your life turned out differently than you expected? If so, how?
GBB: Yes. I never planned on being a writer, creative or actor. And it still is evolving.
NS: Is there anything you would change about your journey?
GBB: As easy as it would be to say yes, I don’t think I would. Everything that I have gone through has made me the person that I am and instilled the spirit and creativity that comes through in my work.
NS: What are you currently reading for inspiration?
GBB: I love history and biographies. I am currently reading a book about George Washington called His Excellency. Very interesting!
NS: Is there a wellness or inspirational book you couldn’t finish? Why?
GBB: Hmmm…there have been some that I didn’t finish. Can’t really think of them right now.
NS: What wellness book could you not put down?
GBB: I read Seat of the Soul, by Gary Zukav about 30 years ago. It felt intuitively spot on for me. Reading that book opened up my thinking and helped me re-remember things that I felt like I knew prior to this incarnation.
NS: What’s next for you?
GBB: Lots! In addition to project coaching, I am working on a new book that is a road trip memoir and using a 5 ½ month RV trip across the USA that I just finished as a container for it. I am also getting my podcast going again, as well as some other creative video projects. Thanks for asking.
NS: Mermaids or Goddesses? (Superheroes or Gods?)
GBB: Neither (?) Give me Babe Ruth, Eleanor Roosevelt or Teddy Roosevelt any day. They’re interesting and larger than life in their own ways.
NS: Toast or bagels?
NS: Ocean, mountains, or forest?
NS: Jeans or slacks or sweatpants?
GBB: Blue jeans and boots
NS: Dogs, cats, fish, guinea pigs, or horses?
G. Brian Benson is an award-winning and #1 best-selling self-improvement and children’s book author, actor, filmmaker, project coach, podcast host and TEDx speaker. As a 4x Ironman triathlete and cross-country bicyclist, Brian knows the value of hard work and never giving up on his dreams, a message he shares with audiences through each of his creative expressions. Brian’s latest book Habits for Success: Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar was an Amazon #1 Best-Seller and was selected as a 2019 Book Excellence Award Winner in the Motivational book category.
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