Say "YES" to everything. Okay, well maybe not literally EVERYTHING, but pretty darn close.
Living a deeply satisfying life requires an immense amount of courage and clarity about your dharma (soul’s purpose). Many of us have no idea what our dharma is and spend most of our lives chasing false ideals of happiness. These ideals often come from social expectation, our own belief systems, or fear of inadequacy of not having enough. Learning to say “yes” takes courage and is an excellent first step in beginning to figure out our dharma. It seems counterintuitive, but by practicing the art of saying “yes” we learn what we want to say “no” to.
Before you start applying your “yes” to buying a closet full of Prada shoes and handbags let’s snap that change purse closed and put a few qualifiers on your “YES:”
1. Will it bring me deep joy and pleasure?
Let's go back to the Prada shoes and start with joy as related to material objects.
I actually own twelve pairs of leopard print Vans.
No joke. Every time I look at my feet they bring me such deep joy that I never want to wear another pair of sneakers again, nor do I want to use up my mental space to have to shop for sneakers again.
Material objects are a difficult topic because we tend to amass them thinking they will bring us joy, and instead we find they bring us emptiness. I bet you could count on your two hands the things you own that actually bring you joy. For me, it’s my Vans, a really sexy black dress, a gray denim button down, a Voodoo doll, mala beads, my Rasamaya cuffs and, appropriately, a pair of Prada heels.
But what about the non-material things? What in your daily life brings you deep joy and pleasure? I love doing meditation at the beach. I can’t go every day, but I can carve out the time and go every week. That said, sometimes saying "yes" requires courage. Living in New England there are days when it’s literally freezing, and other days when I’m just too busy and it seems like a hassle. But in my heart, I know that when I arrive my world will change. Saying "yes" to the things that give you pleasure will make you a better person in the world, and more able-bodied to serve the people in your life.
2. Does this "yes" have a purpose?
Will saying "yes" push your edges? Bring you pleasure? Deepen your relationship? For example, I love to travel, but I am terrified of flying. I have had several near death experiences that occurred while traveling so the fear is real. But here is the thing, if I didn’t say "yes" I would have missed out on seeing the Tantric temples of Khajuraho, or never had the opportunity to admire how beautifully my husband rises above challenge in the face of crisis. There are gifts within the courage to say “yes” that you sometimes don't expect.
Saying “yes” doesn’t mean it will be easy, but IT WILL BE RIGHT.
So maybe you should jump out of that plane (wearing a parachute!), quit your job, or take that impromptu vacation with your loved one. Trust me, as long as you work from a place of authenticity, the universe has your back.
3. Is this "yes" a lasting or temporary joy?
Is the thing you are saying “yes” to something that five years down the road will bring you the same level of joy? As silly as it seems, when I purchased those Vans the answer was that I would love them forever. However, when I had a stretch of meaningless sexual encounters in my twenties, not so much. The choices we make are often directly tied to our sense of self-worth. Think hard about the decisions you are saying “yes” to. You only get one chance with this body you inhabit, so treat it like the temple it is and surround your life with beautiful people and things that serve your highest and best self.
Trust your gut. It is never, never wrong.
To close here is a quick exercise on finding the courage of “yes:”
- Close your eyes for a moment. Take a few deep breaths.
- Start to make a mental list of the things that bring you the slightest bit of joy and pleasure.
- Write them down.
- Close your eyes again. Picture what your life would look like if you only said “yes” to things that make your soul happy.
- Take notice if the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee comes knocking on the door of your vision with their chorus of, “should of, would of, can’t, in ten years, if only.” Do not open the door for them. In fact, tell them they aren’t welcome here.
- Savor this vision of your “yes” filled life. If it makes you a little nervous then it means you are doing it right.
- Immediately write down three courageous things you can do today to make this vision become reality. Write down three more you are going to do next week, within the month, within three months, within six months, within a year.
- Now stop messing around and do them.