Have you ever found yourself sitting quietly in a group of friends and realized that you’re the one who has nothing to say? Or you have the Sunday Fear because, just like every Sunday, you have to go to work tomorrow? Deep inside you know that you’ve got something offer, you believe it, even — but you have no idea how to start discovering that secret version of you, the potential you have, the key to the doors you’ve so far been unable to unlock.
As a human, you’re the only creature on the planet capable of actively developing yourself. Every time you do something new you grow and however rich life has been so far there is so much more to come as long as you give yourself a chance.
Saying yes opens a door for something new to happen and if saying yes becomes a habit far fewer opportunities will slide by unnoticed. In fact, saying yes more will leave you with so many options that you’ll also have to say no more, but let’s concentrate on the glass half full. The things you say yes to are the things that happen, the memories you create and the experiences that will make you who you are, and as soon as you begin you’ll find yourself on a journey that will shape the rest of your life.
Here are the 12 things that will happen when you say yes more.
1. You become more interesting
It might take a little time, but when you have a different experience to talk about every time you catch up with your friends not only do you have new tales to tell, but as time goes on you will become more rounded, articulate and knowledgeable. Not only will your friends wonder what happened to you, but slowly they’ll become infected with your enthusiasm to do new things.
2. You realize the kindness of strangers
Stranger danger is a cold war myth. You’re a stranger to most people and you’re not so bad, so give everyone else the benefit of the doubt. Saying yes will mean you find yourself in brand new surroundings with people you’ve never met before, and more than likely you’ll need some help at some point. Just when you’re feeling down and feeling like maybe this yes thing wasn’t such a good idea, something good will happen and it’s likely to come in the form of a helping hand. Strangers are just friends waiting to happen and if you approach life with gusto, see color in the grayest of moments and start to push your limits you’ll be amazed at who you meet.
3. Your confidence skyrockets
Remember the last thing you said yes to? And the the one before that? Of course you do! You’re still alive — in fact, you feel more alive — and suddenly you’re not just waiting for opportunities, you’re creating them. As saying yes to cool stuff becomes second nature you’ll talk to more people which in turn will lead to new offers and ideas. You’ll feel less scared than ever before, more willing to take risks and as your field of vision opens up your eyes will shine brighter.
4. Failure becomes OK
There will always be moments when you’re scared to fail or that people tell you that you’re not en route to success, but even when your latest adventure doesn’t quite come off you’ll be better prepared to dust yourself off. What other people classify as failure shouldn’t matter to you because this is your life and you can do what you want with it. Saying yes is just as much about putting yourself in a position to accept that not everything goes perfectly, but that this is still OK. Success isn’t owning a big house and a fancy car, it’s waking up each day knowing that you’re going to give this your best shot.
5. You get better at everything
You’re rubbish every time you do something new, unless you have some freakish talent or aptitude, in which case, now and then you’ll get lucky. But on the whole, you’re not going to be an expert when you try out a new activity or skill. But keep on plugging away and you’ll learn more, you’ll improve steadily and eventually your discipline will reward you. One day you’ll look back and laugh at how bad you were at the beginning, just as someone hands you a medal or you cross the finish line with arms aloft. Remember, not being able to do something does not mean you’ll never be able to do it.
6. You discover new-found creativity
OK, you’re fully into doing mode now. You’ve become pretty good at taking chances but now and then you’ll have to get creative. Whether it’s making a yes list, coming up with a one-off project or even setting yourself a huge adventure to complete, the extra purpose you’ve created for your actions will offer motivation and direction. Suddenly you’re starting to design life as you want it to look, and that means grabbing hold of your dreams and splashing them over paper. ‘I wish I could do that’ becomes ‘Let’s do that!’ and all of a sudden you’ll be doing something so unique your former self couldn’t have imagined it. That’s creativity and you’re an artist of life; keep painting!
7. You feel more healthy
Living life on your own terms comes with its downs but your ability to take charge and take or create new opportunities has done wonders for your mind and your body. You’re more positive, which means you challenge illness or inactivity as soon as it presents itself. You’re in a stronger position to help others which always makes you feel better, and physically you’re more confident — especially because now you know that if you wanted to, you could run a marathon, even though you haven’t started training yet. Crucially, looking after yourself and knowing when to say yes to rest will preserve the energy you need for the next big thing.
8. Asking for things becomes easier
It’s not always simple stepping out of the box but if it’s taught you one thing, it’s that you’re OK with being vulnerable. There’s no shame in feeling lost or in need of help and just as you’d step up to assist someone if they asked for your help, you become more confident that it works in the opposite direction too. Maybe you’re cycling through a foreign country and a storm is coming in — just knock on the door of a local farm and ask if you could sleep in the barn (they’ll probably end up giving you a bed, a meal and a shower too). Perhaps you’re fundraising for a charity, organizing an event or need help moving to a smaller place (because who needed room for all that stuff anyway?!), just reach out and others will help, especially because now you have a good reason to be asking.
9. You start to enjoy Mondays
You only used to hate Mondays because you hated your job, and if all of this saying yes has taught you anything it’s that you no longer have to accept a mediocre life. Without a doubt that means that you don’t have to spend the majority of the week doing something you have no love for. You’ve worked out an escape plan despite a few people around you saying that ‘you definitely shouldn’t give up everything you’ve worked for’ and, your game strengthened by all the things you learned between points 1 and 9; you’re ready to take things to the next level. There is a way to make a living doing something you enjoy and yes, it’ll take some time and work, but you’re ready for the struggle. It’s not like that job filled you with joy anyway. One day you’ll wake up on a Monday without a looming malice stirring in your belly — that’s the day you know you made it.
10. You have to learn how to say no
Life got epic and busy, but now you’re in a position where you’ve opened up so many doors you simply can’t take them all at the same time. You’re also being approached by others asking your advice — yep, you’ve now gotten to a stage where you’ve done so much that people are coming to you for help — but this takes time, too. You have a hunch that maybe if you carry on saying yes to everything that sure, you might not get any sleep, but that’s OK. But it’s not: sleep is the best medicine you have. S
o you have to learn to say no sometimes, after all, every time you say yes you also say no by default to pretty much everything else. Knowing what’s right and wrong comes down to instinct, and this has been honed (and will continue to be so) by all of the yeses you’ve said so far. You know what’s good for and not so good as well, you just have to decide on the Big Yes for any given moment and protect your investment in that by saying no to the rest.
11. The world starts to make sense
It didn’t use to. Remember when you were a kid and you thought your twenty-five year-old teacher was a fully blown adult, totally sorted in every way? And then you got to twenty-five and realized you were still figuring everything out? Well, that doesn’t ever change. There will always be questions we can’t answer and part of understanding what makes this world revolve is accepting that we don’t have control of everything. But we are capable of influencing our own decisions and the happiness of the people around us, and nothing matters much more than how you make others feel when you go through life. The longer we spend on this wonderful planet the better we get to know our place in it, and the value of that place is multiplied by your willingness to learn and experience as much as you dare.
12. Things just work out
They do, they really do. You have to trust in this fully to get the most out of life, to turn disappointment into opportunity, to let heartache run its course and doubt evaporate into hope. The process of saying yes to so many things has meant that you’ve broken down barriers, learned more about yourself and started to help others too. Sometimes it feels like you’re totally in control but now and then life throws you the most unfair-seeming curve balls which you can’t escape from. Who knows why we’re here but if we can accept the best of life we should be able to accept the worst of it, and moving on to the next good moment will happen in time, especially when utilizing the most positive habits.
For the last ten years my personal motto has been to say yes more, and it has changed my life unimaginably. Of all the benefits, learning and experiences that came along with each yes, it’s worth noting that in the face of an increasing virtual, dislocated world, nothing worthwhile happens without people. Our ability to communicate, inspire, help and be helped and to share with others will paint the picture of our lives, one we only get to see in full when we look back right at the end, on our last day.
Let’s make this time we have here count, for us and those around us. Make life memorable. Say Yes More.
Featured photo credit: DaveCornthwaite//www.davecornthwaite.com via davecorn.smugmug.com