I was sitting at a conference table on Wednesday afternoon in the middle of a real estate closing. My client’s mortgage representative made a statement that lingered with me for quite some time: “Sometimes, you just have to say ‘yes.’ Shake a man’s hand. You know, make a deal.” He was speaking about interest rate fluctuations, the secondary mortgage market, minimum liquidity requirements; about how the longer you wait for that “better rate” or that “better deal,” you miss out on (what could be) your best opportunity. As I sat across from him at that chestnut-colored table, analyzing his message through the glare of a late afternoon sun, I took his statement to express a message which was far more meaningful – a message which stretched beyond the mortgage realm into the reality of everyday life.
 
Yes.
 
As a seven-year-old sitting in a blue combo desk in a second grade classroom, I completely misunderstood the meaning of that word (Note: English was my second language). For in the middle of a lecture in seed planting or multiplication strategies, my teacher asked me a question that required a simple yes or no answer. Firmly planting my jelly sandals on the floor, I stood and responded with resounding confidence, “RED!” My teacher tried to subdue a snickering laugh and crouched down beside me to whisper, “Oh, sweetie. ‘Red’ is a color. ‘Yes’ is a term of agreement.”
 
Well.     Clearly I had confused the meaning of that word somewhere along the line.

Image: Fotolia.com/hakase420


Yes.
 
It wasn’t soon after that language debacle when I learned the correct meaning of “yes,” just like I learned the meaning of “no.” We all have, and from a very young age. No, don’t eat that. No, don’t touch that. No, don’t eat two cookies – you already had one. By the way, that last example still remains shamefully relevant in my adult years. The point is, we have heard “no” so many times that it has become a somewhat automated response; a knee-jerk reaction of sorts. For our instinct is to say no … whenever we are scared, whenever we are nervous, whenever we are uncertain, or skeptical or flat out lazy. If you were standing 29,029 feet above sea level at the peak of Mount Everest, raising your insulated gloves into the air and smiling behind a frost-covered face mask, and your friend asked you to jump off, what would you say? What if someone offered you a job in Italy, providing no information as to what the job entails or what your living arrangements will be, but can only offer you a timeline and a promise – that you have one night to decide and that everything will work out just fine. What would you say? Most likely no, right?  The Mount Everest example illustrates a necessary and straightforward “no.” We have no doubt in our negative response, well, because we know what would happen if we jump. The Italy example, however, correlates to other decisions we may encounter where our instinct is to say “no” but we fail to give the decision must thought at all. The challenge isn’t in saying “no” when we have to; when we need to protect ourselves or our families. The difficulty lies in saying “yes” when our immediate response is to say “no,” and in that moment being able to consider what could be out there or what we could be missing out on.
 
Yes.
 
You see, saying “no” in situations like the Italy example is easy.  “No” is succumbing to doubt, to fear and to resistance. It’s equivalent to my living room couch after a long day, to pajamas, popcorn and Netflix on a rainy night. In other words, it’s comfortable. Saying “no” is shutting the door. It’s avoiding what could be out there … because avoiding is easier than facing it head on. But when we do this, when we say “no” before thinking it out, before giving it a real chance, we are depriving ourselves; of what could be out there; of opportunities and discoveries and adventure; of that new job or that new friend; of life and love and everything else in between.
 
Yes.
 
Saying “yes” in these situations is difficult. It goes against our instinct to run and hide. It requires courage and a leap of faith. “Yes” means overcoming resistance and trusting that everything will turn out just fine … and if it doesn’t … it’s okay because you gave it a shot.  Where “no” shuts the doors, “yes” opens them up and leads us to opportunities, to possibilities, to discoveries and adventure. About two years ago, someone asked me if I would consider joining Eharmony to embark on the journey of online dating. You may have guessed what my instinctual response was: Absolutely not. But guess what? I created an account, completed that laborious 436-count relationship questionnaire and a few days later I was matched with a handsome guy named Brian who whisked me away – literally to Applebee’s on a first date and figuratively off my feet. It was the best decision I ever made … the best “yes” I ever gave to what could have been a “no.”
 
Yes.
 
So, through all of this babble about yes’s and no’s and my tango with Eharmony, what I am trying to say is …. Say Yes. Say yes to what scares you. Say yes to what makes you nervous yet peaks your ever-climbing curiosity. Say yes to that lunch meeting. You may meet a new friend. Say yes to that out-of-state move or that new career. You are never too old for a fresh start. Say yes to love. Your heart will thank you. Say yes to you, to me, to us, to everyone, because yes is living …. and who knows …
 
Yes may change your life.
 
What is the biggest “yes” that you ever gave? Have you ever said “yes” to something that has changed your life? Share your story with me!

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