I didn’t realize “Saying Yes” existed as a cultural momentum until I read it in Amy Poehler’s book, appropriately called Yes Please. Soon afterward I noted how the opportunity to say, “yes” surrounded us. My daughter’s drama class had a parent observation day and I marveled at how my almost 6-year-old dove right for the “yes!”
The realization of “yes” versus “no” people never seemed more apparent. My natural inclination is to say, “no.” I present an essence of false bravado, but usually, I want to climb into a shell of safety from where I can talk the big talk and not necessarily back it up with the big walk. If someone invites me to go somewhere, I tend to consider it thoroughly, investigating all potential worst case scenarios from every angle before I commit, always at the last possible minute, and sometimes I miss the boat – whether it’s the opportunity for a concert, show tickets, or redeeming those frequent flyer miles.
My husband is the polar opposite. He’s a “yes” to everything kind of guy. “Want to go to the movies? Sure! Want to go to Costco? Sure, I’ll go anywhere with you! To the moon? Let’s do it – let me get my camera first.” He’ll go anywhere and bring his positivity-spreading attitude with him. He’ll also make art as he goes; in photos, paintings, sketches in his notebook, always immortalizing his experiences. He never thinks he wasted his time; every minute of his life is justified because he uses it all; it’s all worthwhile.
There’s a lesson to be learned from the “say yes” artist. Every “yes” leads you to an opportunity or to see or to experience something you wouldn’t have had you offered up a polite, “no thank you” rather than the “yes!” If you have an eternal things-to-do list or chores without an expiration date, leave them to be; it’s OK to procrastinate. Life’s number one priority is “To Live.” This means YES TO LIFE, “yes” to friends, “yes” to after parties, “yes” to concerts (even in Brooklyn), “yes” to free places to stay in Hawaii, “yes, thank you.”
The “yes” people can do just as good a job at playing worst case scenario as I can, they just choose to focus on the prospect of awesomeness rather than on the fear of everything. At the drama class, my daughter agreed to act out a part which every other child declined to play. She had no intention of making a martyr of herself. Instead, she maturely recognized this moment as an opportunity to shine in something no one else wanted to attempt.
While the Internet has successfully brought the world within reach of our fingertips, it’s easier than ever to find people just like you. But on the flip side, there are too many people just like you. Writers and photographers just as talented as you, working just as diligently, nose-to-the-grindstone, trying to push their dreams forward through the overgrown shrubbery of the blogosphere. This is when standing out would be beneficial, and my daughter demonstrated the first step is by saying “yes;” by raising your hand, by volunteering, by saying, “pick me, I’ll do it.”
I do not suggest you say “yes” to every creep who asks you out. Nor do I advise for anyone to say “yes” to sex if you mean no. I learned, after four decades of playing Life, saying “yes” leads to roads of adventure, to challenges, to heart-wrenching love, to vulnerability, to risk, and most certainly towards happiness and fulfillment. Perhaps most importantly, saying “yes” is an insurance policy against regret.