How often do you say no? How often do you respond without even considering why you are saying no?

If you’re like most people, the answer is to both is: often. We say no to so many things… no to experiences that we secretly desire to have, no to relationships that we actually really want, no to big decisions that we are afraid to make. Life can end up being a series of no answers: no to our children, no to our loves ones, no to ourselves and our desires and our dreams and our passions. No, no, no.

It’s funny how often we say no to things we really want. I do this all the time. Here are some real examples from my own life:

I might say no to a new man, or a new friend, or even an old friend, when what I really want is feel connection.

I might say no to a trip, or to a sporting event, or to a random chance to go do something outside of my comfort zone, when what I really want is adventure.

I might say no to a nap, or a yoga class, or a really awesome, healthy meal, when what I really want is to feel rested and nourished by self-care.

I do this without even thinking about it.

I answer no without ever considering if yes is even a possibility for me in that moment.

Out of fear, and self doubt, and self criticism, I tell myself that I can’t say yes, or that I don’t deserve yes.

I tell myself yes is not even an option.

But what if yes is always an option? And what if we started saying Yes? What would be possible if the things we deny ourselves suddenly became possibilities?

What would you say yes to?

Recently, I challenged myself to think before responding with a No, and to say Yes if my heart led me there. What happened next felt nothing short of miraculous.

When a girlfriend asked me to go dancing in the rain… I said Yes. As a storm raged down around us, we twirled like young children, spinning in wonder and dancing (even though people were totally watching).

When a close friend offered their paddle board to me, as we sat on a dock, relaxing on a lake, urging me to give it a try… I said Yes. I was positive I was going to struggle, fall into the lake in a very ungraceful way, and look ridiculous, but I pushed past my fears to try something new.

When my daughter and her friend sat in the kitchen, and asked if they could experiment and make waffles with… chocolate syrup… food coloring… cookie dough… I said Yes. The sheer wonder on their face as they experimented was beauty embodied.

Through each of these experiences, I laughed the entire time.

It turns out that Yes is often freedom. Yes is often a key that unlocks the joy in life. Yes can be the secret in your heart that when set free creates miracles.

Because of Yes, I danced in the torrential downpours that are often east coast summer rains, dancing as if nobody was watching even though there were at least a dozen people doing just that. Oh, did I mention that I did this naked? In the moment, I didn’t care one bit that all my jiggly parts jiggled away as I danced.

Because of Yes, I went paddle boarding, something that I’ve been wanting to do for years, but was terrified of, because I wasn’t sure I could do it, and maybe I would look stupid. It was scary and unsteady and hard, and it was peaceful and beautiful and magical. I’ve already scheduled another time to go again.

Because of Yes, I gave my daughter a memory she will likely cherish forever, of playing in the kitchen with food on a random Sunday morning, of the feeling of ultimate creativity, of ultimate possibilities, of ultimate Yes. The cost? Maybe $5 in food that became unedible and a mess that can always be cleaned up later. So worth it.

In the end, the mess is always worth the play time. What if we could lean into play without worrying about the resulting mess? I want to say Yes to this more often.

What do you want to say Yes to in your life? What are you saying No to that you really secretly want? And what would happen if maybe, just for one day, you followed your Yes, and allowed it to be enough of a reason to say Yes to absolutely anything that you were moved to say Yes to?

Yes could change your life. It changed mine.

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