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The Joy of Yes
My 15 month old daughter has developed an utterly enchanting habit of saying ‘yes’ to everything.
While I know all too well that very soon ‘yes’ will become ‘no’, and a ‘no’ will stand her in good stead as she progresses through life, I’m amazed by the joy that a simple ‘yes’ can bring.
We ask a question – anything at all. “Do you want a banana?” “Can I play with that lion?” “Have you done a poo?” She nods her head seriously, then tips it to one side with a broad smile and nods again, delighted at the response she receives. As if saying yes was the easiest and most obvious thing to do in the world.
Photo: Three Legged Cat
It reminds me of a team-building exercise I took part in years ago that explored the difference a ‘yes’ could make to a conversation. In pairs, we took turns to ask a series of questions, about anything at all, “Do you want a banana?” “Can I play with that executive briefcase?” and so on and so forth...
At first, the other person could only answer, ‘no’. Then, they could only answer ‘yes, but… (filling the gaps)’. And finally they had to answer ‘yes, and… (filling the gaps again)’ It’s worth trying, have a go. (Then come back here when you’re done, I'll wait).
The ‘no’ was straight forward, like having a door shut in your face over and over again. The ‘yes but’ was very similar to the no really, but if anything, all the more frustrating for its wolves' clothing. It reminded me of playing ‘Fortunately, Unfortunately’ with my son, where every new and exhilarating plot twist is squished by a new and tragic turn (normally involving a wolf in fact, or a very large crocodile).
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the energy in those last ‘Yes and...’ conversations was amazing. Positive and inspiring, simple ideas snowballed into grand visions (a feast of bananas while riding an executive lion and looking for a luxury toilet complex anyone?) and lots of laughter. It felt good to say ‘yes’, and more.
Now I watch my little daughter nod, her smile so accepting of life’s boundless positivity, comradeship and security. She lifts my mood in the same way. She reminds me that life is full of opportunities to say yes.
While I’m generally positive and optimistic, I’m also tired, and my days are jam-packed, and I’m only just learning how to say no to stuff I don’t need to do.
But the problem with teaching yourself to say no is you can forget to say yes. To the important stuff. To the stuff that will bring more joy, more 'yes' into your life.
How often do you say yes? "Yes, I want that. Yes, I want that just for me and that’s OK".
How often do you admit, "Yes, I did something inconvenient. It might even smell bad. Yes, I am flawed and that’s OK too"?
How often do you say "Yes, come and join me? Yes, come and join me in this life, come and play, come and eat, come and laugh together. Come say yes together"?
I am learning from my tiny beautiful positive girl. Say yes to something today. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. As the eavesdropping cafe customer said of Sally in When Harry met Sally, "I’ll have what she’s having".
Please say yes to joining us at story of mum. Come say yes to creating happier mums together.