I am nearly half way through a trip in Indonesia, leading meditation classes for a couple of hotels on the Gili Islands.
I am sat in a beach front café looking out on the crystal clear turquoise waters, with an unblemished cloudless sky above me, sipping a cool, refreshing fruit juice when I stopped to think for a second of all the choices I’d made to get here.
From the choice of which drink to have, which seat to sit in, which café to try. To the choice to say yes to this trip, every choice I’d made in the last month, year and in my lifetime; every time I’d said yes or no, every relationship formed, every opportunity pursued or abandoned – all leading to this very moment.
I remember reading The Yes Man a few years ago; Where Danny Wallace embarks on a personal experiment to say yes to every question, invitation or opportunity for a whole year to see where life took him. The story follows the incredible people he meets, adventures and shenanigans he gets up to and the dramatic change one simple word had on his whole life; Yes.
Inspired by that book, I remember setting myself an intention to say yes more, to walk towards opportunities or invitations rather than staying in routine, saying no because of fear or yes out of obligation.
With that intention I noticed some interesting internal conflicts when an invitation or opportunity arose to say that word, or not. Here’s what I found.
You don’t have to say yes to everything
At first I noticed a sort of internal tension where I felt that I should say yes to everything, much like Danny Wallace did in the Yes Man.
I realised, and he articulates it very well at the end of the book, that saying yes to something for the sake of saying yes or in the name of ‘putting yourself out there’ when it doesn’t feel right is not the pursuit of happiness.
Saying yes to some experiences might go against what feels right, so allowing myself to grasp, understand and accept that saying yes to all experiences would be no more healthy or successful as saying no to everything; instead choose more wisely which opportunities to say yes to – but make more of an effort to step out of my conform zone and into new experiences by saying that word.
Let go of the outcome
How often have you said yes to something based on your prediction of the outcome or that you could somehow manipulate the outcome once you got going; not saying yes to the actual process or journey?
‘I’ll say yes to this job offer because, even though it’s not what I want to do, It’ll mean I’ll earn more and will look good on my CV’.
What if we turned our attention to the process rather than the outcome? Saying yes to experiences and opportunities because they feel right, genuinely interest you, make you come alive, will be of benefit to others and to ourselves; an experience for experience sake and ones which you actually want to happen.
Things rarely ever turn out as we plan so why not give more attention to, be mindful in (and say yes to) the journey, the bit that’s real, rather than the predicted outcome.
Listen to your inner voice
I began to notice too that I would habitually say no or yes to invitations or opportunity due to habit; wanting to be polite, fear based reactions; or even of made up mental chatter about other peoples intentions.
There is a millisecond of time when you are faced with an opportunity, question or invite where your inner-self reacts. Sometimes we follow that instinct, sometimes our mind chatter gets so active we get distracted and confused.
There have been so many times I walked away from something having said no, when really I wanted to say yes, then mentally kicking myself thinking ‘damn it, I should have gone/said yes/done that’. And equally others where I’d said yes, out of obligation or habit and wished I’d had the courage to politely turn it down.
Connecting to that millisecond of time where your inner self, your authentic self, reacts and using that as your guide will align your decision to what truly is right for you.
When you’re being true to yourself, you show up as a better person in all situations, form more authentic relationships, give more to your loved ones or to your work.
When you say yes to what feels truly right, undoubtable your path will cross with more likeminded people and opportunities will begin to show up.
Be mindful in your decision making
I held a class on the beach last night on the side of the island where the sunsets never fail to be incredible.
I was sat a small group of people from all over the world. All of whom had made their own decision to come together to share a meditation practise that night, had chosen this island to visit for their holiday, at this time.
We sat and reflected afterwards at the chance, the synchronicity, of us all choosing to be there; a point where our paths crossed, our trail of choices leading us there, to share that moment together as the sun set in front of us.
A strong spirited, adventurous Australian who was travelling alone and who had come to the realisation that the love she was looking for, was inside of herself; a handsome successful corporate South African who was at the beginning of a new spiritual and self exploration thanks to life’s circumstance and synchronicities; and a warm hearted Dutch mother of four who was reminded beautifully by her 8 year old earlier that day of the power of being mindful.
She shared with us that when asked by her husband ‘what is happiness’, her eight year old daughter replied;
‘Happiness is living for today, not worrying what tomorrow might bring but enjoying each and every moment for what it is’.
Perhaps if we took this wise young girls advice, we might just say yes an awful lot more.