In this busy, fast-paced world of limited time and attention, a lot of us are quick to just say “no.” “No thanks!” “No time!” “Over-booked!” “Not one more thing!” But here are some common “no” areas that you might just want to say “yes” to. They’re worth the time, and they can improve your life.
1. Say “Yes!” to travel.
Any travel is good. It’s a chance to see some great scenery, mix things up a little, maybe even get out of a rut. If you really want to experience some growth and a new perspective, I recommend traveling outside the country (and not just for a touristy vacation).
My eyes were opened when I moved down to Mexico for a semester in college through a student exchange program. Not only did I meet people who talked differently and did things differently, I learned how people looked at things differently. Suddenly your world looks a little different when you’re on the outside looking in.
2. Say “Yes!” to fundraisers.
“Quick!” “Close the door!” “Walk the other way!” “Don’t pick up the phone!” Does this sound like your response to fundraisers? My family hated fundraisers. When we had band fundraisers, we’d buy up all the chocolate so that we could make the minimum quota without having to “bother” anyone else. (And then no one would else would have an excuse to hit us up, too!)
This seemed to work just fine, until now—I’ve realized that I am now a grown adult who is afraid to ask anyone for anything! Just like that chocolate experience, I feel I’m offering something others wouldn’t want—that I’m imposing on them—even though I have wonderful, valuable services to offer!
Fundraisers are an opportunity to experience the cycle of giving and receiving. When we block ourselves off from participating on either side, we lose the opportunity to practice asking and to practice giving. We lose the chance to offer value and to receive value from others. We are also asking for their help, for their support or we are offering it.
I’m not saying that you should buy things you don’t want or even support every fundraiser that comes your way. But I do recommend giving where you can and participating when you can. And involve your kids in it, too, so they can get comfortable interacting with others while they have you by their side.
3. Say “Yes!” to farmer’s markets, fests, and fairs.
Are you the type to shy away from booths? From getting out and moving among the throngs of people? You’re probably missing out! This is a great way to meet people, bump into old people, and support the local community.
Do you know your neighbors? I’m one of those who has lived in the same town for years and who doesn’t know my neighbor, nor my town. Markets, fests, and fairs give you a chance to get move involved in the community and meet the people that make your town tick. Are you short on time? These city events give you many of the local businesses all-at-once, within steps of each other!
4. Say “Yes!” to talking with new people
As kids, it isn’t safe to talk to strangers. But as an adult, avoidance can cost you some of the most wonderful experiences of your life. People have made friends, found future spouses, and made great business contacts by opening themselves up to people in everyday experiences. Start with a smile—and if you get a smile back—see if you’re inspired to spark something up. Even starting with the weather can turn into a short heart-to-heart exchange that will brighten that person’s day and leave you all fuzzy and happy, too!
5. Say “Yes!” to volunteering.
Many hands make the work go faster! Organizations can’t function without volunteers, and if you’ve been the solo volunteer for an event, you know how frustrating that experience can be. Money does help the world go ’round, but so do the things that are free.
Besides that great feeling of giving back to somebody or something, consider the other benefits. Many activities and events wouldn’t be possible without volunteers; others would be much more expensive without volunteers. Volunteering can also give you free experience. Volunteer to help with food prep and take some recipes home with you!
Do you miss playing games and other childhood activities? Volunteer at the park district or library to experience them again with new eyes. Don’t have much time? Narrow down your volunteering to an organization that you care about and offer them a one-hour block.
Do you like to do things your own way? Lead up a volunteer effort or create your own volunteer opportunities. Offer free tutoring at the library or offer your time to a local nursing home. Your action may mean the creation of something new and wonderful!
6. Say “Yes!” to the favor.
As in fundraising, you do not want to say yes to every favor. But think carefully before you say “No.” If you can make the time, you can really make a difference in another person’s life, and it will come back to you positively in one form or another. Just as Tracy Lawrence sings, favors are how you “Find Out Who Your Friends Are.” In a busy world of multi-tasking individuals with their heads buried in cells and tablets, your time and attention may be the most precious gift you can offer, making the greatest difference. (And you’ll also feel great when you’re in a fix, and you’re friends do the same for you!)
7. Say “Yes!” to that awkward thing (that pushes your comfort zone)
Of course we don’t want to do it—it’s awkward! If it’s making you squirmy and it’s continuously nagging at you, it’s probably time to take action. You’ll feel better when it’s done, and you’ll have grown in the process. If this thing is a skill that you haven’t gotten yet, practice, practice, practice! And don’t be afraid to get some help from others. Over time, the practice will become a part of you; you’ll become a master, and you’ll be able to help someone else who is struggling with the same thing.
8. Say “Yes!” to listening to your body.
Say “yes” to your body’s needs—it knows best! With all of the new fads, diets, food options, and new chemicals and preservatives out there, we can lose sight of what our body actually needs. Unfortunately, some of the things that we intake are designed to trick and confuse the body. Therefore, a period of detoxing/raw food dieting, etc can be beneficial to refresh your system and re-accustom your body to what it knows is best.
How often do you listen to your body? Look to the thoughts behind your cravings and learn to differentiate between your emotional cravings and physical needs. If you’re feeling thirsty, you are overdue for some water. If your stomach tells you it’s hungry, you’re hungry! If it feels full, you’re full! Every body is different. There is no one-size-fits-all plan for health!
Get to know your body type and what foods and eating patterns work best for you. If you’re craving certain foods, look at the nutritional content of those foods to see what your body might be missing. Also, remember to chew slowly and try not to multi-task while you eat. This will give your body the time and attention it needs to communicate to you what it needs. Don’t neglect the body! Keep it happy, healthy, and satisfied to ensure an enjoyable, fulfilling day!
9. Say “Yes!” to “me time.”
Some of us are very good at giving ourselves “me time.” Others of us are terrible at it! The key is balance. Extremes can ruin your life. The easiest evidence of this is “burn out.” This can happen to parents, workaholics, volunteer-aholics, exercise-aholics (________-aholics), obsessives, and over-achievers. No one wants the “burn out” teacher. No child wants to face the snippiness of the “burn out” mom or dad.
Putting in lots of hours can look like a great service, but you’re doing no one a favor. Take some time to think about the things that make you happy, just you. Pick at least one—no matter how small—and do it. Frequently! If not every day, every week. Excitement is contagious! So find your passion, let yourself go, and get re-energized with life! You’ll have fun, be happy, and you’ll inspire others in your life to do the same.
10. Say “Yes” to date night.
This applies to everyone. Don’t have a “date”? Take yourself out. I love watching movies by myself. Instead of dragging my partner to my favorite chick-flick, I can enjoy it in all of its mushy glory, minus the mumbling from the seat next to me! Or else invite your friends, your niece, your kids! Take some time out to have fun and show some special attention to the ones you love.
If you do have a regular “date”—girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, spouse, whatever—do not put this on the backburner. It can be the key to a happy relationship. Make it frequent and make it special! Put it in your planner and take your partner out. If money is an issues, go to the park or check out the local free events—or stay in and make dinner together and watch a favorite movie. Sit out on the porch or in the backyard, enjoy a favorite drink/snack, and talk while holding hands/cuddling. Whatever you choose, keep that time sacred. Treat it as an appointment. If you have to miss, make it up to that person, and reschedule immediately!