Better than before


When I got my first pay check at my new job a couple of months ago, I immediately bought a Groupon for a facial. I don’t pamper myself much, so this was a little out of character for me. But, I’m doing things differently, so why not?

Perhaps, because it’s out of character, I kept putting off calling the spa. Maybe, subconsciously, I didn’t feel worthy of the pampering. Finally, the day before the Groupon expired, I made an appointment. Thankfully, they could fit me in.

Friday evening after work, I raced across town and spent the next hour being touched by a complete stranger. I didn’t even know the girl’s name (I forgot to ask!)! I just put myself in her hands as she steamed, extracted, lotioned and potioned me. It was amazing!

After a few minutes, I noticed that I was very tense and wondered why.

Firstly, it was odd to have a complete stranger touching my body. But I’m the touchy-feely sort so this didn’t quite fit. Then it occurred to me that the face is an intimate place. After all, how many people do we have in our lives that getthatclose to us? And, even those who do getthatclose, how often are they that close for that long?

OK so it was normal to be a bit tense, so I allowed myself to relax a bit. But I was still tense. “What else is there?!!!” I thought.

And then I understood: “Oh, I get it! I’m supposed to be doing other things!”

Like most people, I have a long list of “have tos”. I was in a hurry to get my (relaxing) facial “over with” so I could get to my next task!! Facial. Check. Groceries. Check.

It took me 20 minutes of laying there to figure that out! So, for the next 40 minutes, I put away my mental check list and forced myself to relax. This was going to take as much time as it took! Potion away, my girl!

I don’t believe in coincidence. The next day, I went to Chapters to use a gift card I had received for my birthday. I was browsing through the Self-Help section, when a book practically dove from the shelf and leapt into my arms.

Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin. It’s about making and breaking habits for a happier life. Well, I was going to happily spend my gift card on a book about change by the author of The Happiness Project!

I rushed home and read the first chapter. If you want to change, Rubin says, you need to look at your habits. I read further until I came to her Habits Manifesto, where I was clubbed over the head with #6:

When we give more to ourselves, we can ask more from ourselves.

I can work on myself endlessly, beat myself up for not changing faster, or worry myself sick about the possibility of NOT changing within my 365-day timeline, but none of these will get me there faster than being kind to myself.

It seems obvious. If I want, for example, an employee to work harder, I can beat them down with mental cruelty and they will do what I want out of fear. Or, I can treat them with dignity and respect, I can coach and mentor them, I can lead by example, I can give them the opportunity to learn from mistakes, and so much more. Which is going to be the more motivated employee? It’s a no-brainer!

The question is: why can I be kinder to an employee than I can be to myself? Now THAT’S a change worth exploring!

Whether it’s setting aside time for pampering, self-reflection, fun or relaxation, I will get more out of myself in the long run, if I am kinder to myself.

I see a massage in my future!


Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin


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