‘Away from’ or ‘towards’?
Danny broke up with his girlfriend.
At first he didn’t notice the change in his behaviour. It was subtle and crept up on him. Slowly but surely however, friends started commenting;
‘Why didn’t you go to Jill’s party?’
‘Didn’t see you at the squash club last week…?’
‘How come you don’t pick up the phone any more?’
After a while, Danny realised he was actually doing less and less. He’d got into the routine of slumping in front of the TV when he got home from work.
He stopped contacting friends. He was staying up late and lying in bed in the morning. Danny was avoiding life. Saying ‘no’ had become a habit.
Do you have an ‘away from’ or ‘towards’ attitude to life?
Danny met a man on a bus, a teacher, who he later said taught him something in just a few words which would eventually turn his life around.
Those words were ‘Say yes more often.’
Danny Wallace (1) subsequently wrote a book about his experiences of the year when he became ‘the man who said yes to everything.’ His book, ‘Yes Man’ eventually became a film with Jim Carrey in the lead role.
Danny suggests ‘make a note of the times you could have said yes to something and think about where that yes could have led you.’
The power of ‘yes’ eventually changed not just Danny’s life but his entire way of life and his entire attitude to life.
If you feel insecure, down or depressed or are suffering the effects of depression whether it’s reactive depression or melancholic depression. If you’ve acquired a pile of books on depression, you may become talented in the art of feeling bad.
Perhaps you think you have low self esteem and that’s getting in the way. Perhaps you’re just plain unhappy? But perhaps your unhappiness is telling you something?
A funeral really focuses the mind
I attended a funeral recently of a man who was the same age as me.
The church was packed to the point where people had to stand outside in the street. This was a man who had lived an expansive life and who had touched many people in a positive way.
The eulogies told the story of someone who had climbed to the top of the career ladder, with a team of 60 working for him, people who respected and admired and, above all, liked the man.
Joe(2) had raised a family and been happily married for many years, with a life that was obviously full of fun, friends and laughter. He loved music and played the guitar, taking it everywhere with him and playing whenever asked.
He gave his time, and his music, in aid of many local charities.
This was a man who had squeezed all the juice out of life; a well-lived life that contained a message for everyone who stood in that congregation.
This was not a man who said ‘no’ to life.
Saying ‘no’ can get to be a habit. Saying ‘no’ to life creates negative energy and eventually will cause depression.
There is an ancient Sufi story of a man who was miserable all his life.(3) He did not think he deserved happiness. He thought happiness was on ration.
He worked and struggled, scrimped and saved. He denied himself small pleasures, and his pot of misery grew larger and larger as he grew older, until finally, one day he took his pot of despair to the local market.
It was a large pot by now, full to the brim. He felt he had suffered enough. He tried to trade the pot to everyone he came across for just a tiny nugget of happiness.
After a long time a woman at a local stall explained……….
‘Nobody wants your pot of sadness. There is no exchange rate between misery and happiness. No amount of misery will entitle you to even one ounce of happiness.’
The power of yes
In his book, ‘Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha brain’,(4) Dr Rick Hansen describes how a ‘yes mindset’ can surge across the synapses creating a flow of positivity which has implications for our brain chemicals, natural reward systems and hormones.
He suggests that resistance, or ‘saying no’, drives energy in a direction you may not want it to go. Where attention goes energy flows.
You can fight or embrace something, reject or accept it. At the end of the day, whatever your reaction, it is as it is.
When you accept, embrace and are open to, not just the good, but the difficulties of life too, you become empowered. And positive thoughts result.
How about saying ‘yes’ to grief? ‘Yes’ to despair? ‘Yes’ to life as it is and ‘yes’ to your choice of response? When you befriend your enemy, have you not lost an enemy.(5)
Eckhart Tolle (6) in his book,
‘The Power of Now’ says ‘Surrender to what is. Say yes to life and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.’
Your own personal ‘yes set.’
Marketers have long since realised the power of the yes mindset. They will ask you a series of questions to which the answer is hopefully ‘yes’. Three is the magic number so:
Are you fed up with being down?
Do you want to make changes in your life?
Do you want to feel better?
If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, the chances are you are already feeling more positive. If you now commit to action, you will be reclaiming your autonomy and getting proactive in living a more positive life.
Destroy insecurity and gain confidence with this simple exercise.
If you have self esteem issues, if you’re feeling negative, if feeling positive and confident is your dream, you can begin to make changes right her, right now by planting the seeds of positive thoughts and happy words in this confidence building exercise.
It is a mindfulness breathing technique called Fitch Nhat Hahn(7) and will drive positive energy into your life providing the driving power to really get things going.
Allow yourself 5 or 10 minutes to sit or lie down and relax as you focus on your breathing, allowing it to slow right down as it calms the autonomic nervous system.
As you breathe in through your nose, think of breathing in pure energy.
As you breathe out through your mouth imagine you are saying ‘yes’ to life.
In your imagination, you might see the energy as pure white light, or red, or orange, or yellow, or any empowering colour you are drawn towards.
This energy can fill your body and fill your mind. You can send it in any direction, to any point of pain or discomfort and as you breathe out simply say ‘yes.’
Allow this simple daily exercise to release you from the pull of ‘no’ and open you up to that richer, fuller life you deserve.
Someone at the funeral whispered a message to me which said it all.
‘As far as I know’ she said, ‘Life is not a dress rehearsal. We have one shot at this. Better make the most of it!
In memory of Joe Inzani 21.6.57 – 25.12.13
The ‘Yes set’, mindfulness, positive thinking, therapeutic stories, setting tasks and goals are all part of the NCFE accredited Fusion Therapeutic Coaching Diploma and Distance Learning Skills Diploma course.
1. Yes Man
3. Sufi stories
4. Just One Thing
5. Lao Tzu
6. Eckhart Tolle. The Power of Now
7. Fitch Nhat Hahn