Y is for Yes
“No is a protective shield that compliments the sword of yes” Kenny Nguyen
“The oldest shortest words ‘yes’ and ‘no’ require the most thought” Pythagoras
The words yes and no are inextricably linked; when we give our attention wholly to one thing, by definition we can't be giving it to something else.
No can be used to create boundaries, to not accept invitations to do various things because they don’t fall in line with our goals, but saying no can also be misused through fear and in so doing it can mean that we can miss out on opportunities for discovery and growth.
“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage pleasantly, smilingly, and non-apologetically – to say no to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger yes burning inside.” Stephen Covey
Saying yes to things when we are already exhausted, or offering or agreeing to do things that are not our responsibility or in line with our goals reduces our energy and reduces our options. When we can put aside fear of the unknown, accept responsibility for our lives and trajectory and say yes to the ‘right’ things however, it can transform our lives by opening up a world of possibilities.
“In the space between yes and no, there is a lifetime. It’s the difference between the path you walk and one you leave behind; it’s the gap between who you thought you could be and who you really are; it’s the legroom for the lies you will tell yourself in the future.” Jodi Picoult
Why is saying yes important?
“Saying yes to new ideas, yes to possibilities, and opportunities is the foundation of thriving.” Tal Ben-Shahar
Our happiness is linked to experiences of both pleasure and purpose over time and it depends on what we actually pay attention to.
“Attention acts as a production process that converts stimuli into happiness”.
Attention is a scarce resource: give it to one thing, and by definition you can’t give it to something else. If you’re not as happy as you could be, “you must be misallocating your attention”. Paul Dolan
When we say yes to one thing, it can naturally lead to a lot of other opportunities that wouldn’t be possible if our initial response had been no. We can’t always see where a yes will lead, but when we learn not to be distracted by saying yes to things that don’t align with our life plan and break past the fear of saying yes to the right things for us, it can take our lives in a completely different direction than we originally anticipated or imagined.
Why is saying yes difficult?
“Building your courage is a smarter choice than running from imaginary dangers.”
Saying yes is an opportunity for change and to make progress versus an opportunity to remain static, but saying yes is a double-edged sword. When we say yes to new things, it provides us with the opportunity to enlarge our world but equally it is likely that we will make mistakes or fail along the way and experience a variety of associated emotions fear, embarrassment, etc that we usually try to avoid. If we can learn to reframe and embrace these ‘mistakes’ as steps that will increase our learning, opportunities and resilience than it can make saying yes, when our natural reaction might be to say no, a little easier.
We can build up our ‘yes muscles’ by:
Taking care of our energy levels.
Everything we experience or do either gives us energy or drains us. Getting the balance between ‘work, rest and play’ is essential for functioning at an optimum level and protecting all our energy levels – but particularly our mental and emotional energy because you can be physically fit and healthy, but if you feel drained mentally, you are more likely to use the words yes and no inappropriately and make unhealthy choices rather than considered responses.
When our energy levels are good then it is easier to pay attention, focus and visualise our long term goals, approach life more positively, have courage, feel ‘ready’ or ‘up to a challenge’, have confidence in ourselves, be flexible etc thereby bringing many changes to our lives, enhancing our well-being and regaining our zest for life.
Saying yes isn’t always easy; it can be scary and not always pay off. Saying no can be the easy option, but if we don’t move beyond our comfort zone sometimes and put aside the doubt we can have in ourselves or others and be open to new things, then there will be a whole world out there that we will miss out on that could potentially enhance our life and help us flourish and we will also miss out on potential friendships, unexpected experiences and adventures.
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
What small (or large) step can you make towards stopping fear limit your life ?
“Say "Yes" to an environment where you look outside the window and smile at the sunrise!” Somya Kedia