“Probably some of the best things that have ever happened to you in life, happened because you said yes to something. Otherwise things just sort of stay the same.” Danny Wallace, author of Yes man.
You might have seen or heard of the movie Yes Man starring Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel in which Jim Carrey’s character, the withdrawn Carl, makes a life change and starts saying yes to everything. I didn’t really like the movie much, but maybe that’s because I’ve read and love the autobiographical book (same title) it is based on by author Danny Wallace.
The book tells the story of the 6 month period in which Danny committed to saying yes to anything and everything. Throughout he has a lot of weird and fantastic experiences, one of them being meeting his future wife, which I think is amazing, to say the least.
The past week or two (since I started moderating my alcohol consumption) I’ve been inclined to say no to social outings. While it is always okay to be in need of some alone time, it is very clear to me that I am saying no to people because of my own bad judgment.
Last weekend I said no to going out with my roommate and her friends. I eventually went out with a friend of mine and his girlfriend instead, but saying no in general leads to a loss of opportunities you would otherwise have had. Doing the safe thing will bring you, well, the safe results: not much of a change. Doing something new and different, on the other hand, will lead to more and more opportunities the more you say yes. It has huge exponential effects.
In this instance my mind was clouded by my “first” or prior impression of these people. ‘I don’t really think we have much in common’ I thought, ‘it’ll just be a drag to waste my time around them’. Two points here however:
1) Most people have something valuable or interesting to offer no matter how much we might think otherwise, and
2) Studies show that we often base our (faulty) impression of other people on very little knowledge.
Today I was about to come up with a good excuse not to go to a party a friend of a friend has invited me to this upcoming weekend, but then it hit me that I am being the worlds biggest dumbnut. It is simply not okay to make such shitty decisions in your own life if you expect to be able to help other people.
So I thought a bit about what I could do to remedy the situation. The problem is that the more you analyze things the more you will be affected by something called negativity bias. Basically (citing Wikipedia) negativity bias is “the psychological phenomenon by which humans pay more attention to and give more weight to negative rather than positive experiences or other kinds of information”. It is a well-known theory in psychology. Of course, some people have problems with saying no, but here I am only dealing with the need to say yes more.
And negativity bias can be a tough nut to crack. It is often a part of people’s ingrown personality as with me. So I’ve decided I have to do something like Danny did and say yes even when I want to say no. I think saying yes to EVERYTHING is a flawed way of looking at it. Maybe it worked for Danny Wallace but for the rest of us mortals a lot of practical things will get in the way. I am therefore going to say yes to every social/work opportunity that:
1. doesn’t conflict with other stuff in my calendar
2. doesn’t impede on my morals
3. is economically feasible
I am not sure if anyone I know reads this blog, but it would go without saying that ridiculous suggestions made as a way of teasing me will be disregarded. This happened to Danny a lot and makes for a fun book to read but doesn’t make sense in any practical way. Being a yes man (or woman) is only about creating more opportunities for yourself, not saying yes to the penis enlargement spam mail etc.
In my mind, being a yes man is also about more than just saying yes to opportunities that come your way. It is about focusing on the positive in general, giving people (sincere) compliments when possible, and sharing your resources with those around you. Doing all of this will also add to your happiness.
Basically, I think I and perhaps some of you guys will gain from looking at opportunities a bit different than we are used to. I always think a lot about the possible consequences of my actions, which can be a sensible thing to do, but it can also lead to over thinking everything which just leads to misery and loneliness. Considering the long-term consequences of your actions is important, but as Danny Wallace showed with Yes Man, something as simple as saying yes more can lead to great things in life.
Anyway, that is all for yet another unstructured post by my hand. Juggling work, blogging etc. is a bit of a challenge to me, but I am slowly getting into some good routines and you might soon see some changes to the site and to how I write my posts. As for the yes man experiment I might as well start right now – nothing worth doing is worth postponing!