It was the first word out of my mouth as a wee babe. Not mama, not dadda, but “no”, and according to my parents, it was a vehement, rather fervent style of no. When I said it, which apparently, was quite often, I meant it.
For the next 30+ years, this word continued to be one of my favorites, and I eagerly barked it off to all sorts of things.
I said no to things that a person should, such as drugs, and most other shenanigans that typically only lead to problems, however I also said no to potentially good stuff, like healthy new experiences and opportunities. This was absolutely maddening to a few important people in my life who, over many years, frequently complained that I never wanted to try anything new.
They were right. I didn’t. I was in a comfy little rut with my routines.
Work. Gym. Home. Work. Gym. Home. Workgymhomeworkgymhome. Eventually it all started to blur together, and it began to bother me: I was boring myself.
The shift began last year after I read “Mindset” by Carol Dweck, who writes about the importance of a growth mindset. This book really resonated with me, and I started to realize just how often I was holding myself back from things, because of fear. Stupid, silly, irrational fear! Fear of being bad at something, fear of looking stupid, or fear of simply the unknown.
My epiphany smacked me across the face in fall of 2013:
I need to embrace yes.
That is what is missing from my life.
So much more yes!
If you follow me on Instagram, you have seen that I am positively oozing yes these days, ranging from the minutiae:
“Yes, I’d love to go grab frozen yogurt” even though it’s 10:30pm on a Tuesday, and that is not at all something I’d typically do,
“Of course I’ll go buy a motorcycle today!”
“Why, yes, I’d love to take a super intensive yoga training that will end up spanning the length of the entire year.”
to things that I truly never imagined myself doing:
“Yes, I’d love to take Pole Dancing classes five days a week for a couple of months!”
“Absolutely, dancing around a yoga studio in Nashville with a bunch of women while chanting ‘Sat Nam’ sounds positively groovy!”
“Sure, learning Jiu Jitsu is a great idea!”
And that is just the beginning.
I am addicted to yes.
I can’t stop. It’s almost become a personal challenge to me to see what things I can say yes to that I wouldn’t have a couple of years ago.
Don’t misunderstand me; this is not about saying yes until my schedule is packed full and I’m exhausted and miserable. No, no, no.
This is about busting out of the boundaries of the confined, boring, suffocating little box I had inadvertently stuffed myself into over the years. It’s about saying yes to things that will give me the opportunity for new experiences, or getting to know different people.
Saying Yes Makes Me Feel Juiced
I am an ardent believer that new experiences nourish our soul. Monotony is killing us softly, and draining us both energetically and creatively. Many people I know do the exact same thing, day in, and day out, and it reads all over their faces: boredom.
How many times have you enthusiastically asked somebody, “So, what’s new?” and their response is, “Oh, you know, same old crap.” accompanied by an eyeball roll that screams ‘my life is a snore’.
Who wants a vanilla existence? Good grief, not I.
Some routine is great. It’s comforting, familiar, and feels safe. I have a few daily regimens that I find deliciously cozy, and I’m not about to give them up. My morning coffee ritual, for example. Every morning I stumble out of bed, fetch my coffee, and make a beeline for the couch to snuggle under a blanket with the dogs while I stare mindlessly at pretty pictures on Instagram as I sip. It is what I do, and I enjoy it thoroughly.
Where we get into trouble is when our life starts to look like a rendition of the movie “Groundhog Day”, mindlessly plodding through our existence in auto-pilot, all while barely living.
We desperately need new stimulation. Dazzling our senses with different things brings about different responses. New friends, sights, tastes, music, and movements elicit unique thoughts and feelings – things we may not have ever had the chance to think or feel before.
The Worst That Could Happen
I was out to dinner with some of my raddest girlfriends in Salt Lake City a week ago, and the underlying theme regarding why we say no to things we really want to do seemed to be, “But, what will people think?”
My friends, let me assure you that there will always be some turkey out there that will think you are a dumb-dumb. Always.
Who seriously cares?
That person’s opinion of you and your choices mean diddly-squat in the grand scheme of your life. Zip. Zilch. Nadda. I will promise you that there are people that think I’m a total weirdo for some of the activities I choose to partake in (the outfits I wear, the food I eat, the way I laugh, etc etc), however that doesn’t stop me from doing what I love, and enjoying myself to the fullest. We can not let somebody’s insignificant opinion steal our happiness.
There are also people that see me make a gigantic ass out of myself on the daily. I am always trying (and initially, failing at) new things in the gym or at the studio. A guy at the gym watched me, and snickered, as I fell onto my butt at least ten times in a row while I attempted an overhead Pistol squat a week ago all in the name of #InstaBattle2014 (which you can follow on Instagram). I couldn’t have cared less. How am I ever going to nail those suckers if I don’t practice? Laugh on, homey!
Just yesterday I tried over and over to get into a new trick in Pole, and I seriously could barely hoist my ass six inches off of the ground before slamming it back onto the mat with an awkward thud. All of the other women in class could nail this move, and sure, I probably looked a little silly, but I’ve got to learn somehow! I just laughed, and kept working on it. That is all we can do!
If somebody thinks you look like an idiot, what is the very, very, very worst thing that could happen?
I’ll tell you: it’s that they’ll think you look like an idiot.
That is the absolute worst case scenario. Nothing else will come of it! Can we live with somebody thinking we look a little silly? Uh, yes. Yes, we can.
Saying no is easy. It’s simple to pass up opportunities and hide from it all, but that’s a cop-out. The experiences that have awarded me with the most growth just so happen to be the things that have made me a bit uncomfortable at first. (Okay, fine. Some things I’ve done recently have made me a lot uncomfortable.)
Interestingly enough, some of the things I’ve had the most trepidation about have turned into the most fun things for me – learning to ride a motorcycle, aerial silks, and Pole, for instance.
Saying yes has shown me that my body is capable of all kinds of cool things, and I’ve met some amazing people, and made new friends! Triple whammy!
The Size of Your Yes
Not all yeses have to be huge. I have been getting a ton of texts and emails lately from people that start out with, “Okay, I’m going to embrace yes, and…“ the things have ranged from finally trying a yoga or Pole class, testing out a new recipe, and pulling the trigger on a Hawaii vacation.
It doesn’t have to be a huge yes. The opportunity to say yes presents itself in many ways throughout the course of our day. Test the water with a little yes to something you’d normally say no to.
“Hey, do you want to…” Yes. Yes, I do.
YES to rock concerts on work nights, dance classes, impromptu road trips, and decadent chocolate cake!
Yes to racing Go-Karts, a new workout, taking up martial arts, opening the good bottle of wine, and wearing the most killer lingerie!
Yes to trying new things, having new experiences, and meeting new people!
What can you say yes to that would stretch you a bit?
I know there is something you’ve been dying to do, but have been holding yourself back from it.
Now is the time!
I want to see and hear all about your yes. Use the hashtag #embraceYES on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, and tell me the juicy details!
Or comment below and let’s chat – I always love to hear from you!
“You just say ‘yes’ and life molds itself around you!” – from the book, “The Art of Being Unmistakable”