I am amazed, appalled really, at how much of a “no” world we live in. Have you ever stopped and counted how many times a day someone says “no” to you either directly or implied in some way? How many signs on the road, notices on buildings, instructions about daily tasks, requests we make of others – all result in the exact same answer…NO! It is little wonder, then, that the first word our 24-month-old minds produce when the tiniest smidge of independence first blossoms is NO, NO, NO!!!
Can you imagine how vastly different our lives would be if people cultivated the habit of saying “yes?” Here’s a simple example. Child says to teacher, “Can I go to the bathroom?” Teacher says “No.” Child is frustrated and asks again. Teacher says, with irritation, “No. I’ve already said no.” Child wets herself. Child gets punished or shamed or laughed at. What is learned? That the world is uncaring and unresponsive and she is grossly ineffective? You bet.
What about this instead: Child says to teacher, “Can I go to the bathroom?” Teacher smiles and says, “You know, we are going to line up in two minutes. You can be the first in line. How’s that?” This at least opens up the opportunity for the child to communicate that the need is urgent and the shame of wetting herself could be completely avoided. The world now feels more caring and responsive. The child begins to learn that communication means something and that she has some power to affect her world. One very important thing to notice: the teacher’s response (not going to the bathroom right this second) was the same in both instances! But the first example is a “no,” while the second answer is effectively a “yes.” You see, saying yes does not mean that we all get our way. It just opens to door of opportunity.
Does this seem like an oversimplification? Then consider how many times a day stretched across how many years that this type of interaction occurs in which the “no” message is pounded into us again and again either directly or implied: “No, you can’t do that.” “No, that idea is stupid.” “No, you can’t do it like that – do it like I said.” “No, get back in line like everyone else.” “No, your feelings don’t matter. Just obey me or else.” Now fast forward 30 years and you will find an unimaginative, bored, frustrated worker who hates himself, his job, his world and seeks release in any way he can find it…drugs, alcohol, porn, food, high risk behavior – you name it. Why? Because we all ultimately need a YES to open the door of opportunity!
Check in with yourself. What was the last creative idea you had, something that you were genuinely excited about? What did you do about it? And if you dared to voice it to another living soul, what feedback did you receive? The most common response we all get (even from those who love us, maybe even especially from those who love us) is to tell you in vivid detail why it won’t work. That is…NO. For most people, we’ve already long since lost the drive to so much as speak our ideas out loud to another human being. We’ve already short-circuited the whole process and just say “no” to ourselves! “Nope. That won’t work.” “Don’t bother.” “That’s stupid.” “What were you thinking?” “You’re just dreaming again.” “Give it up already!” And we’ve all become so warped with the “no” disease that one of our most favorite national past times is to go around bursting each other’s bubbles.
This ought not be. But we can only change it one person at a time. I encourage you to cultivate a “yes” world. And there is no better place to start than with you. Find some hidden dream tucked away in a dark corner and drag it back into the light. Say YES! And make some small step toward making that dream a reality. When you hear the dreams of others floating around you, become a dream catcher and go out of your way to encourage them to pursue their dreams rather than run from them. This isn’t about being delusional, but neither is it about being realistic when reality for most of us has been so distorted by the big fat “no’s” we’ve swallowed our whole lives.
Start with something simple. Want to finally take that trip to Paris? Then stop telling yourself why you never will and start calculating how you can. It doesn’t matter if it takes three years of saving. It will never happen if you don’t say YES and pave the way with action. Start saying YES! And generously share your yesses everywhere you go.
“Yes! I think you can do that!” “Yes! That is such a great idea!” “Yes! You should keep trying.” “Yes! I think you’ll get there!” YES! YES! YES!