The Power of Yes

I’m teaching a class right now, and the title of it is “YES.” It’s all about learning how to clear away the noise and debris in our lives and in our heads, and learning where we are being called to a bigger and bolder YES.

Of course, when I was originally asked to teach this class my initial answer was more like a no. I’ve tried so hard to create good boundaries in my life that I think I may have possibly overcorrected into an ice skid of No. It’s time to recalibrate and reconsider my Yes.

Here are some recent Yes opportunities:

A friend asked me to join her and run a marathon for fun. The implied Yes is time together and many miles of training.

During a recent rough patch with my boyfriend, I wanted to shut down and go silent. My Yes required that I stay connected and communicate, overriding some old patterns that really need to go. The implied Yes is that I really am all in and emotionally available (and I am).

One of my daughters was in the midst of an anxiety attack. I could feel my frustration and reactivity. I took a deep breath and chose to stay calm and present instead. The implied Yes is the message, “I love you all the time, even when you are having trouble loving yourself. Count on me.”

There is a homeless man who lives along the lake where I run. I pass by him all the time, strangers looking at each other. One day I asked him his name. Another day my friend and I gave him a gift card to a café. Now we stop to chat, no longer strangers. His name is Jonathan. The implied Yes: Hi, I see you. You matter.

I really don’t like speaking out in my classes in graduate school. I can feel my face get hot and flushed, and I feel like a shy, new kid again (we moved 13 times when I was young). This week I got up and did a role-play experiment with another student in front of the class. My implied Yes is accepting my discomfort and participating anyway, making the most of what I’m trying to learn.

There is a person who pushes my buttons; she really gets under my skin. I decided to think only positive thoughts about her and send her a silent blessing every single day for 30 days. My implied Yes is the understanding that when someone really bugs me, it usually means that there is something about me that could use some work—or at least some softening. Acknowledging my own imperfection makes me more tolerant and accepting of others.

Our initial Yes requires openness and willingness. Our implied Yes is often more complicated. Many worthwhile things—running, relationships, personal growth, raising a child, pursuing a spiritual path, building a career—require a million small forms of Yes after our initial Yes. In fact, most days we have to wake up and recommit our Yes all over again. Yes, I am all in.

The biggest implied Yes is to uncertainty. We have no idea what the next hour, the next day, the next mile may hold. And by agreeing to embark, we are saying Yes to whatever that may be.

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