“Why you should ‘Happily Expect the Unexpected’ in order to be happy.” with Author G. Brian Benson and Marina Kostina

Dr. Marina Kostina
May 2, 2019 · 16 min read

Happily Expect the Unexpected. Each day is brand new and can potentially be life-changing. 10 years back while running my family’s business, I certainly didn’t expect to be in the position that I am in today as an entrepreneur who writes books, acts and speaks for a living. It wasn’t even on my radar. I just stepped out into the unknown and followed my intuition which continued to guide me in the direction of my current profession. I just kept saying “yes” to opportunities and continued to step out of my comfort zone. And as my self-awareness grew, so did my creativity and I began to unlock a lot of talents that I had no idea existed inside of me. And before I knew it, I had written a few books, began to act and did a TEDx presentation.

I had the pleasure of interviewing G. Brian Benson who is an award-winning and #1 best-selling self-improvement and children’s book author, actor, radio personality, life coach 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 brand-new book “Habits for Success — Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar,” is an Amazon #1 Best-Seller.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

It’s my pleasure! 10 years ago, I actually had no idea that I would be doing what I am currently doing. I didn’t even realize that I had the particular creative abilities inside of me that I am able to share with so many people now.

So, ten years ago, I was running my family business. I had been running this business, which was a successful golf center in Salem, Oregon for 11 years. We had a driving range, a 9-hole golf course and a retail golf store. But I was really unhappy. I know a lot of people would give their “left arm” to have that job, but I didn’t feel like I was being my true authentic self and that bothered me. Up to that point in my life I had accomplished some really nice things. I rode my bicycle across the United States, finished over 50 triathlons (including 4 Ironman races), had a wonderful son and was running a profitable business; so, a part of me felt like I had a good understanding of personal success and what that meant and felt like. But I wasn’t feeling that way at my job or in my life anymore. I felt like I had this giant gift inside of me that wanted to come out, but I didn’t know what it was; I just knew that it needed to be released. So, I left the business. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life after leaving the golf center, but I trusted my decision.

The process of actually leaving the business took a year after I made the decision to leave. My father was understanding with my plans of leaving but also decided to sell it because of them, which kept me around until we could find a buyer. The last year was tough for me, I really wanted to begin the rest of my life. But staying that final year turned out to be a blessing in disguise. As that last year dragged on, I began to fall out of life balance. I really let my unhappiness get to me, until it finally reached a point where I basically just forced myself to sit down and write out a handful of things that I knew would help keep me balanced and centered to get through this difficult time.

Here’s what I came up:

-Make sure that I was getting enough sleep.

-Make sure to drink 10 glasses of water a day.

-Get some daily exercise.

-Allow myself some quiet time every day.

-Allow myself to be creative every day (back then it was playing my guitar).

By following this list, I found that it really helped me. So much so that I felt like I should expand the list and write a book to help others find life balance also. Now I had never written a book before…or really anything for that matter. But just felt like I was supposed to do it. So, I did. After self-publishing it, it even ended up winning a couple of book awards which shocked me, but more importantly it gave me a direction to head toward after leaving the business.

After writing the book which was called “Brian’s List — 26 ½ Easy to Use Ideas on How to Live a Fun, Balanced, Healthy Life!”, my intuition was telling me that I would need to learn how to be more comfortable in front of people, but the proposition of giving a speech or talking in front of others terrified me because I was an introvert by nature and the last thing I wanted to do was give a speech or a talk in front of a group of people. Like I had with my nudge to leave the family business, I honored this nudge to begin the process of learning how to speak and be more comfortable in front of others. I took a couple of community college speech classes, I joined Toastmasters for a while, I hired someone to co-host an internet radio show and I also create an “interactive workshop” that I could offer people. I ended up calling it “An Introduction to Balance” and I tied it in with my book. I even took an acting class to help as well but that’s another story.

All of these experiences gave me clarity, confidence and a much stronger foundation. From here I just flowed with the momentum and took advantage of new experiences, connections and opportunities which has brought me here today to you. It’s been a magical ride. But it all started with listening to my intuition and having the courage to leave my family business.

What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?

I think it’s incredibly important to continue to learn and grow. Life is constantly flowing and evolving around us. I feel we should be doing the same. We aren’t meant to be stagnant. Life is so much richer when we continue to grow, mature, and have new experiences. I know it isn’t always easy, but that’s what makes it so fulfilling; to continue to test ourselves and see the world with new eyes.

One way I am able to “live on purpose” is to continue to learn and grow and to make sure that I continue to step out of my comfort zone. When I left my family’s business 10 years ago into the unknown it wasn’t easy, but I had to honor my intuitive hunch that said I was finished growing there and I knew that if I just stayed patient, I would eventually find my bearings and I did. Just like shared in the previous question, I had no idea that I would be doing what I am now doing (author, speaker, actor) but as I continued to step out of my comfort zone, I began to not only find my authentic path but I began to truly feel alive. And as I began to feel more alive I began to gain more self-awareness which lead to more self-acceptance. What more could one ask for?

As I continued to learn, grow and become more self-aware my world opened up in amazing ways. New pathways, new ways of thinking, my foundation strengthened and experiences I only dreamed of prior became available. For me, that is living on purpose.

Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you to finding your life’s purpose?

In addition to the pain of leaving my family business after I felt like I had stopped growing there which ultimately lead to me finding my life’s purpose as an entrepreneur, I had another life changing event while I was in college that helped me gain some much-needed confidence as well as help begin to lay a strong foundation that has enabled me to successful ever since.

In college I severely injured my knee playing mud football with some buddies and after a long and tough rehab period, I challenged myself to enter a short triathlon. After successfully completing the race, I felt totally alive and empowered and began a love affair with the sport for the next 20 years. I ended up finishing over 50 races including 4 Ironman distance events. The sport of triathlon helped me build a foundation of fitness, routine and confidence which has carried me forward ever since. And I know for a fact that having had the experiences that I did in the sport of triathlon and the empowerment I gained from stepping out of my comfort zone to race, has helped me tremendously going forward as I began to step out in a different way after I left my family’s business and began to write, speak and act.

Having stepped up to the plate, challenged myself and succeed in the sport of triathlon let me know that pretty much anything that I put my mind to I could accomplish. In essence it set the stage for me to step out, explore and succeed in being a writer and speaker.

The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?

I think that there are many reasons and contributors. I think that a lot of people have forgotten how to really connect with one another. I feel blessed that I grew up without a phone and social media. It’s hard enough to grow up, become self-aware and find yourself but when you add in how disposable our society has become with fast food, instant gratification around every corner and social media’s judgment of telling us we are only worthy if we have a lot of “followers” or “likes” to validate ourselves. In addition to that, retailers are constantly telling us we aren’t enough and that for us to feel better we need to buy their products.

The days of being patient, connecting with others outside of our smart phones, laying a strong foundation and taking the time to really become good at something are becoming fewer and far between. And I think that truly affects our happiness and ability to be fulfilled.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I would like to think so. I am certainly trying. I don’t ever try to tell anyone what to do. I try to lead and inspire by example. My self-help books are filled with the ups and downs of my own “hero’s journey” and I love to share my thoughts and feelings and what has worked and what hasn’t worked for me. I try to write in laymen’s terms but with depth. I have spent many years trying to be the best version of myself while sitting up in my own observer’s perch paying attention. It was really scary at first sharing about my life and particular struggles, but it was also very freeing. Being a human isn’t easy. We all experience both love and fear and the more that we can side over into the “love” category I feel that things get easier. Less ego, less competition, less judgment and more compassion and service. We all share so much in common, and at our core we all want to love and be loved. I think we all struggle with self-acceptance at some level and in some of my films I try to share this message in hopes of allowing the viewer to breath a bit easier knowing that others are dealing with the same issues and fear.

What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?

Get Enough Sleep

According to Thomas Dekker, “sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together,” I totally agree. Sleep is by far the number one catalyst in regards to setting my day up right. If I don’t get enough sleep, it’s much more difficult to do the other things that help keep me in flow and in balance. When I am sleep deprived, I am not as centered and don’t have as much energy to make room for the important habits in my schedule. And when I don’t keep my routine, I feel quite out of sorts. It affects my confidence, production level, well-being and ultimately my ability to be connected to my intuition and others. I am at my best when I get 7–8 hours a night. So, for me, starting off my day with exuberance and a thirst for life begins with a good night sleep! It’s crucial.

Attitude of Gratitude

Our attitude is the lens through which we see the world. It’s true. The thoughts that we emit and the way that we convey those thoughts determine the experience that we are going to have in life.

Giving thanks for what we have may be one of the single most important things we can do for ourselves. It puts us in a positive frame of mind, helps us see the good in all things and lets others know we are open to receiving more.

I try and stay on top of this as much as I can, because I have down days just like everyone else. I know that for myself to really begin the day in a positive, excited frame of mind, I like to give thanks just as I am getting out of bed. I keep it simple and just go over in my head all of the things in my life that I am thankful for. It can include family and friends, material objects (car, computer, etc.) or opportunities that I have had or that might be coming my way. It can include anything and everything, past, present or future. I like to be creative and make it fun.

Giving thanks on a regular basis is a habit that has transformed my attitude and most definitely allows me to start my day in a much more positive flow. Attitude is quite literally — everything. I want to start my day off right and look through a lens that sees the world to be kind, loving and generous.


Exercise has always been an important part of my life and has been a major catalyst in helping me build a really strong foundation to operate from. Team sports, triathlon, cross-fit and and now more recently hiking have all helped me build body awareness and confidence that carries over into everything else that I do. So, it’s no surprise that I like to start my day with some form of exercise. Since my days of racing in triathlons are over, my preferred method of exercise is to either go to the gym to do some light weights and a few of the cardio machines or go walk a 3-mile round trip to my favorite coffee shop. Either way I benefit and get my day started off right by taking care of myself and saying “yes” to health. I have more energy, think more clearly and am definitely more productive by starting my day off with exercise.


Noted writer and philosopher Ram Dass once said, “The quieter you become the more you will hear.” I couldn’t agree more. Morning meditation always gets me going in the right direction. It helps me feel calmer, carry less stress, have more energy for the day and it allows me to truly activate my intuition. I love to spend 15–20 minutes each morning in my favorite recliner quieting my mind.

Meditation has been life changing for many people including myself. I am now much more at peace, more relaxed and less anxious than I used to be, since I started this practice about 12 years ago. It also allows me to visualize and picture what I want my day to look like. There are many forms of meditation and many different ways to meditate. I recommend doing an Internet search to learn more about the varieties of meditation and what might be best for you.

Eat Better/Eat Less

Eating a healthy lite breakfast has been an incredibly important part of starting my day off right for a long time. I know a lot of people like to start their day with carbs such as hash browns, pancakes and bread, but I have always functioned better and been much more successful throughout the day after eating a healthy meal.

For me it’s all about trying to maintain a sustainable energy pattern throughout the day and if I start it out by eating heavy, I might as well go back to bed! I have always been an advocate of listening to my body because it will always tell me what works for it and what doesn’t. All those years of training and racing in the sport of triathlon helped me become hypersensitive to what I ate.

I recommend sticking to clean healthy foods when you can and stay away from food that is processed. There is very little nutrition in processed foods and I can guarantee you very little sustainable energy. I like to start my day with a green shake (spinach, carrots, some frozen blueberries) and either scrambled eggs or oatmeal.

Another key to helping me feel better and more energized is to eat less. Most of us eat more than we need to. Eating better/eating less has been an incredibly important tool in helping me start my day off right and keeping my foundation intact and solid!

Happily Expect the Unexpected

Each day is brand new and can potentially be life-changing. 10 years back while running my family’s business, I certainly didn’t expect to be in the position that I am in today as an entrepreneur who writes books, acts and speaks for a living. It wasn’t even on my radar. I just stepped out into the unknown and followed my intuition which continued to guide me in the direction of my current profession. I just kept saying “yes” to opportunities and continued to step out of my comfort zone. And as my self-awareness grew, so did my creativity and I began to unlock a lot of talents that I had no idea existed inside of me. And before I knew it, I had written a few books, began to act and did a TEDx presentation.

As I began to create, I truly began to feel alive. I also realized that every day began to feel quite exciting and new because I really had no idea what new opportunity or experience lay around the corner. It was at that point that I began to really “happily expect the unexpected” in my life and when I woke up each day felt like it had potential or could be life-changing for me. Once I began to realize that there were no rules and that my path didn’t have to look like everyone else’s, I relaxed and my whole world opened up. And that is the outlook I bring into each day.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you the most to live with a thirst for life?

Biographies — I find it really interesting to see how others go through life. The choices that they made, what they had to overcome and the lessons that they learned to get to a place of being successful and more self-aware. I just finished a book about the boxer Jack Dempsey that I found very interesting. Not sure if there is one particular resource that I keep returning to. I like to keep my inspiration continually moving and feeling fresh and new and am always on the lookout whether it be a book, movie, video, blog or act of service.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I really love the Maya Angelou quote where she says, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I try really hard to make people feel good with my work whether it’s a book, film, presentation or video. I want everyone to know that there is something special inside each and every one of us and I would love nothing more than to help others find that gift.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, thanks for asking. I just released a new book called “Habits for Success — Inspired Ideas to Help You Soar,” via Mango Publishing which is available on Amazon that I am really excited about! It’s a culmination of the journey I have been on for the last ten years observing my own “hero’s journey,” and I share the steps and habits that have worked for me in an inspiring, thought-provoking and entertaining way. I have always been one to try and be the best version of myself and am always paying attention to ways that I can improve, grow and gain more self-awareness and I love to help others do the same. It’s had a great launch and been endorsed by some fantastic people such as Sean Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens), Mark Allen (6-time Hawaiian Ironman champ), Kristine Carlson (Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff book series) and Prince EA (viral spoken word artist and futurist) among many others. My hope is that it impacts a lot of people and helps them build a stronger foundation, become more self-aware and ultimately lead to a more fulfilling and successful life.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

There are a lot of things that we can implement to lead more interesting, fulfilling and successful lives but many won’t stick until we begin to truly accept ourselves. I always say, “love yourself and everything else will fall into place.” I truly believe this. So, if I could inspire a movement it would be to help others sit comfortably in being themselves. I own the domain “be yourself to free yourself!” I would love to eventually put it to good use and offer tools, inspiration and guidance to help others begin to accept themselves more completely. Once we are comfortable in our own skin, anything is possible and we are free.

Thank you for joining us!

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Dr. Marina Kostina

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Live a “ravenous life” — a life filled with the passion, pleasure, playfulness and abundance that comes naturally to those who dare to be authentic

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.