Brace yourself, you People-Pleaser, you: in a world consumed with putting up healthy boundaries and learning how to say an emphatic, unapologetic No, I’m going to recommend the opposite. Today’s post is about living a life of YES (and as a card-carrying People Pleaser myself, I so hope you say, “I do” and keep reading). Are you still there?
(Please say Yes.)
Of course you are still going to say no to some things in life—like when a sketchy looking guy offers you candy in his kidnapper van, you’re going to say No, Thank You (unless he’s gone to the trouble of picking out all the red Runts and red Sour Patch Kids for you, which is worth at least one drive around the block).
You’re still going to say No, Thank You to (most) drugs.
And you’re still going to work at saying No, Thank You when you’re feeling overwhelmed, overworked, over-everything, and crispy around the edges (a.k.a.: the warning signs of burnout).
So continue saying No in situations that prevent you from thriving and staying alive. Check.
But when our lives and mental health aren’t in peril, most of us could benefit from scads more yesses … especially if any of these statements sound like you:
- “I could be accused of Sitting on the Sidelines in my life.”
- “I feel like I need to learn how to live again after Covid zapped the life out of me—and I don’t mean the virus itself—I mean from The Covid Lifestyle.”
- “I want more fun around here!”
- “I have a comfort zone, and while I like it, it sometimes feels like it’s smothering me to death.”
- “I like the idea of just a little more adventure in my life.”
- “I’m so fucking bored.”
So it looks like you’re in on the “Yes to Life” club.
I think we know, deep down in our organs, the difference between saying Yes because we’re People Pleasers and saying yes because we’re Personally Pleasing ourselves.
There is a feeling that comes from saying Yes to something that’s just outside your fleece-lined comfort zone: it’s that undeniable twingle, that life-affirming feeling of GETTING ON THE RIDE, the feeling of exhilaration mixed with a wee bit of “oh Geez!” (note the exclamation point after the “oh Geez”— it’s a real differentiator).
When we say yes to things that don’t feel draggy and laced with obligation (which always tastes bitter), the following magnificent things can happen:
- We connect with people and have a good freaking time … like how I did last Friday, when The Husband’s flight was delayed coming home. I had to consciously override my default setting to just hunker down at home and just let the tickets to I had bought to attend a Palm Springs Modernism Week thing go to waste … but I chose to ask my friend Julie if she was free instead. I held my breath after I sent the text. As an introvert, I wondered WHAT HAD I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO?!? The text came back, and she was free! She came over for a drink, we went to the thing, and my night was 850x better than if I had just worked into the evening before picking The Husband up from the airport. I’m SO glad I said Yes, so she could say Yes.
- We learn something cool and new—something that stretches us and makes us beam with new knowledge … like my client R. who reluctantly agreed to go to the St. Louis office and figured out a whole new way to do some kind of accounting thing; he came back bursting with ideas and solutions and answers.
- We overcome challenges and feel proud of ourselves because of it … like my client Sheryl who decided to put on a webinar to promote her coaching business; she put a line in the sand by publicizing a date on LinkedIn, and then had to follow through. She learned a lot, felt more nervous than she could even remember feeling, and then felt like a billion bucks for delivering such a successful session.
- We spice things up … like how a team I’m working with all agreed to forego the usual team building dinner for a kimchi cooking competition. They learned and laughed together … some won, some lost … just like life.
Prompts for how to say Yes (because sometimes we need nudges):
- Go to the reunion—even if you haven’t lost your Covid weight yet.
- Say yes to the invitation to “come on over for leftover lasagna”—even if you are still trying to lose the Covid weight.
- Go to your college friend’s wedding—even though it’s two flights away (and then obviously two flights home).
- Say yes to the pinot painting night thing with your girlfriends—even though you’re going to turf that canvas in the trash when you see the monstrosity of what you painted in the sober light of morning.
- Say yes to the extra mile on the hiking trail—even if it means an extra hour UPFUCKINGHILL—because the view will be so much more spectacular if you make it to the top. This happened last weekend with two friends visiting us; we were about to call it a day on the trail and turn around, but someone was dehydratedly-delusional enough to suggest that “maybe there’s a better view if we keep going?” and WHOA! THERE WAS! This pic is of us in the Park Ranger’s fire lookout tower (who knew one was even up there?), where we got Secret Squirrel membership cards (who knew you could take a pledge—AS A GROWN ADULT—and get a card like that?). We have stories for life because we went the literal extra mile.
- Say yes when your boss asks if you want to present the project status update to the executive committee—even though she technically gave you an out—because you know it’ll expose you (in a good exposure to the bigwigs way, not in an underwear showing kind of way).
- Say yes when your stylist suggests you try lightening/ darkening/ ombre-ing/ chopping off your hair—even if (especially if) you haven’t changed your do since 2002.
- Say yes to the invitation to the happy hour—and try a new cocktail while you’re at it (this picture was me trying my first-ever Long Island Iced Tea, which was way less hideous than I thought it would be).
- Say yes to joining the writing group at the local Y—even though you’d rather not be vulnerable and share your shitty first drafts with a bunch of strangers.
- Say yes to the offer from the meal prep/ delivery place that keeps sending you flyers—even though you can’t figure out the math if it’s worth it, because you really do need to try something other than your usual 5 dinners on rotation.
- Shonda Rhimes wrote about the notion of showing up in her book called Year of Yes, if you’re interested in even more inspiration to keep saying Yes—even when it’s easier/ lazier/ default setting-er to say No Thanks.
Saying Yes means showing up for life, and not just for a measly participation ribbon. It means trying something that might initially feel a little uncomfortable but turns out to be full of something new/ energizing/ connecting … something ALIVE. That’s it! Saying yes to activities and opportunities is an active vote to live a livelier version of your life. Are you going to say Yes the next time something floats in front of you? OF COURSE THAT’S A TRICK QUESTION … they answer is obviously Yes. Maybe we’ll do it together?
P.S.: I really think we should connect on Instagram!
P.P.S.: Oh and just in case you missed it… I’d love you forever if you took 16 minutes out of your life to watch my TEDx talk!