The power of showing up and saying ‘yes’ to life
Showing up. Did you do it today? There are so many people I see that fail to show up for their own lives. It seems to me that they are hoping that someone will come in and live their lives for them. There is immense power in saying ‘yes’ to life, and becoming more engaged in your relationships. There is nothing wrong with being a dreamer, but dreams that aren’t actioned can come back to haunt us as unfulfilled wishes of the soul. How many dreams have you already let slip by because you just didn’t say ‘yes’?
The power of showing up in life
Woody Allen famously quipped, “80% of life is showing up.” Author Scott Young wrote very bravely about how to change pesky, unhelpful habits. He says, “The trickiest part of starting a habit is the first step. If you’ve got that handled, the rest usually flows smoothly.
This is easy to understand intuitively. Exercising is mostly about that first step into the gym. Writing is mostly about opening up that blank page. Overcoming procrastination is mostly about the first five minutes of work.”
If you’re not present, you are not engaged
This can happen in almost any area of life – you see those couples who sit opposite each other at a great cafe on a sunny day, and rather than speak to each other they are both on their devices. People can find themselves in relationships where their partner has become totally disengaged. This can also happen in the workplace – you start to feel on the outer, that others are no longer engaging with you.
Why do people become disengaged in life?
People are lazy. We have to preserve our energy. But if we stop moving, we stagnate and die. It’s true. If you are stuck about what to do – fucking do something. I never swear on this blog – so please take note. I am not trying to be mean.
Don’t be afraid of doing the wrong thing. In life – the wrong thing can usually be corrected, and if it can’t there’s normally another solution, or the problem isn’t that big.
How to learn to say ‘yes’ to life, even when you want to say ‘no’ – in 4 steps
I often talk about happiness and positivity, and I think these notions need to be put into context. Read Happiness is NOT the goal. Here’s Why where I say, “Happiness is determined by our psychology towards our experiences. It is technically possible to have what some would consider an ‘unhappy set of circumstances’ and still be happy.”
Saying no can be a good thing. Critical feedback can be positive. Arguing can be constructive. There is a difference between arguing and fighting. In ancient Greece, philosophical ideas were argued and new ideas were formulated. This may not have happened if everyone simply agreed with each other. It’s OK to say no in life, just make sure you learn to say ‘yes’ to the things you really, honestly desire.
#1: While contradicting people can shut doors, saying ‘yes’ and showing up opens them
When my partner contradicts me in a conversation, it drives me crazy! And when I contradict someone too, it often shuts down an otherwise productive conversation. I had a horrible ex boyfriend who used to be very contradictory. He and I were going through lots of problems. It’s like we could never agree on anything.
However, have a great friend who always says ‘YES’ while in a conversation with people. He is a lot older than me and very wise. By doing this, he makes people feel important and most importantly HEARD. I realise that when someone contradicts me unnecessarily, it can make me feel UNHEARD.
#2: Say ‘yes, and’ and not ‘no but’
Have you heard of improv? It’s a type of theatre sports where you have to be ‘generous’ to your fellow actors by actively ‘not’ blocking them. This means you have to say ‘yes’ to any dramatic device they throw your way. You need to show up and say yes.
This is an old improvisation trick. The rule says, ‘Don’t say “No, but.” Say “Yes, and.’ Tina Fey talks about this, and so does every great improviser.
Penelope Trunk talks about being enchanting on her wonderful blog, she mentions that the only thing that is going to get you the job over the other four interview candidates is the fact that the interviewer finds you the most enchanting. People need to want to be able to hang out with you.
The Sophists knew this: “Sophists did, however, have one important thing in common: whatever else they did or did not claim to know, they characteristically had a great understanding of what words would entertain or impress or persuade an audience.”
Penelope rightly talks about making people feel enchanting when you are talking to them. You need to make the person you are talking to feel interesting, HEARD, listened to, appreciated. It’s about them, not about you. Too often I realise I make a conversation all about ME. I’m too keen to tell people what I know. What I’VE done. What I think. This can put people out and it certainly doesn’t make them feel heard and appreciated. Showing up is something that takes effort, after all, but it’s effort worth making.
#3: Learn how to listen
Penelope talks about this: “The truth is that people don’t care if you are enchanting. They want to feel like they themselves are enchanting. I first learned this reading Roger Ailes’s book You Are The Message. He explains how you are interesting if you make people around you interesting. You are enchanting to people if you help them to be better than they are.”
#4 Take advice from the Sophists of Ancient Greece
Rise above your limitations, seek philosophy – and seek out deeper understanding of your fellow man. Think of the Sophists, “In the second half of the 5th century BC, particularly at Athens, “sophist” came to denote a class of mostly itinerant intellectuals who taught courses in various subjects, speculated about the nature of language and culture and employed rhetoric to achieve their purposes, generally to persuade or convince others.”
Learning to show up in life, be present in the moment, and the power of saying yes – are all tools in your tool box. What did you show up for today?