A few weeks ago I was listening to a teleconference with Paige Elenson, founder of Africa Yoga Project, and it changed my life.
During the call, she described her first visit to Africa. In a chance encounter, she met two young men along the side of the road who were practicing some yoga moves. Excited to finally find people who embraced her love for yoga, she jumped out of the safari jeep and showed them some of her own moves.
After returning to the United States, the young men tracked Paige down and sent an email asking her to return to Africa and teach them – and their community – yoga. In a series of back-and-forth emails, she politely declined each time, until finally it struck her that saying “no” was making as much of an impact in the world as saying “yes” would.
So, she packed her bags and made the trek back to Kenya. Unbeknown to her at the time, saying “yes” was the beginning of something much bigger than she ever could have imagined. Now, four years later and partnered with Baron Baptiste, the Africa Yoga Project has introduced thousands of children and young adults in Kenya to yoga and its empowering, life-changing benefits.
When I was listening to Paige talk, it struck me how many of us (including me) live in the “no” world. As women, we are being taught to say “no” more as a sign of our power, independence and balance in life. No, I can’t go to dinner with you. No, I won’t volunteer at my child’s school. No, I don’t want to train for a marathon. And on and on it goes.
But what if, instead of instinctively saying “no”, we said “yes” more? What if we conditioned ourselves to accept invitations and opportunities from our kids, our spouses, our bosses and life? And what if we did this all the time?
I wondered. Then I decided to find out.
Not one to do something half-assed, I was going to say “yes” to everything for an entire week. If you remember Jim Carey from “Yes, Man”, I was “Yes, Woman”.
To kick-start my revolution, I posted my vow to yes-ism on Facebook. “Now would be a good time to ask for that favor,” I wrote. And for the next seven days, I stuck to my promise.
Want to do cannonballs in the pool? YES! Want to try a handstand in yoga? YES! How ’bout doing an Ironman? YES! Will you come speak to our group? YES! Can you volunteer at our youth summer camp? YES! Will you write for us? YES! Want to get together for dinner? YES! Want to go to Vegas with us? YES!
Everywhere I turned, new experiences, people and opportunities were coming my way. Positive energy was flowing. Goodness was abounding.
What I learned during this week (aside from the fact that my hubby and my kids liked me a whole lot better), was that it takes a lot more energy to say “no” than it does to just say “yes”. People were also responding better to me, and I was attracting abundance.
For example, one of the dinners that I went to (and normally would have found an excuse to get out of) presented me with a free spa and dinner gift certificate. A marathon training group that I spoke to resulted in some great new running buddies and supporters of a nonprofit teen marathon program that I’m starting. And saying “yes” to a couple of colleagues has resulted in more career opportunities and more writing assignments (like this one!).
Some people have asked me if I’m going to continue with my yeses. My response is always, “Do you even have to ask?”