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Saying "Yes" to Life

Copyright (c) 2006-2021

Do you ever gripe and complain about life? About what happens to you, or what you have or do not have?

I used to, a lot. I hoped complaining would make things better. But it didn't.


In spite of my tendency to whine, I was a doer. I did not like teaching public school. So I left and created programs for environmental education and wilderness leadership. I started to write. I set up my own business.

Although I liked what I did and was good at it, it was difficult. It drained me. I felt like I was climbing a mountain with an extra 50 pounds of rocks in my pack.

I had to force myself to take action. Along the way, I moaned and groaned. I thought, "Life should not be so hard." I worried about burning out. Or worse.


A New Approach

One day, I met an old friend, who had created a truly successful life.

John had been a top architect, but fought a trend to bland, "money-driven design." In spite of awards, he left his profession, its politics, and a sprawling city. He designed and built a house in a beautiful rural valley, and rebuilt his life as an artist, teacher, and family man.

When we talked, John had a wonderful long-lasting marriage, and two great, self-sufficient children. His paintings had changed from pretty but commonplace nature scenes to vibrant, life-filled paintings of people doing things they loved.

I asked him why he thought things had worked out so well.

"It was difficult at first," he said. "But it all got a lot easier when I started saying 'Yes' to whatever came along."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Instead of worrying about every decision," he said, "if an opportunity popped up, I took a look. I tried it out. In spite of fears or doubts, I said, 'Yes,' and went for it. It was great. I felt I was living without regrets.

"But," he added, "there was a downside. Saying 'yes' to everything can be hectic. I often had a lot going on. Too much, sometimes. I had to learn to say 'yes' to the most important things to make space for them to grow.

"I learned to let go of less important things. I discovered letting go is part of saying 'yes' to change and endings. When I started saying 'yes' in that way, it all started to flow. I didn't have to force decisions or actions; results seemed to come naturally. I took life as it came. I relaxed, finally at ease with change."

I came away from my chat with John inspired but confused. Although I was making progress in my own life, things did not flow for me.

I had to force myself to make decisions, and take action. I tried to wrestle into being the things I wanted. The 50 pounds of rocks still took its toll.


The Word in Our Heart

After pondering John's words for a while, I finally grasped the wisdom in something I had read, but not fully understood.

"Each of us carries a word in our heart," wrote positive psychologist Martin Seligman in his book Learned Optimism, "a 'no' or a 'yes'."

What, I wondered, was my word?

As I thought about it, I realized, although I focused on creating positive results, the dominant word in my heart was still "no."

In my attempt to better myself, and my world, I focused mostly on problems. I wasted precious energy trying to get rid of things I did not like and did not want.

Although I knew "creating" usually generated better and long-
lasting results than problem-solving, I still saw my creations as solutions to problems, rather than things I loved and wanted to bring into being.

Trying to force creations into being, I used willpower manipulation. I tried overpowering the forces in play with my will. That worked sometimes, but it was draining! Worse, the results rarely lasted.

I also used conflict manipulation. Feeling sorry for myself because creating did not come as easy as I thought it should, I whine and complained. Doing so not only drained me; it irritated others, and often led to conflict.

I wasn't like that all the time. I got things done. I took the lead in creating a mountaineering school. I developed leadership programs, wrote articles, gave speeches, and started coaching others. However, after chatting with John, I realized "Yes" was not yet the primary word in my heart.

When I made it so, things changed dramatically.


Saying "Yes" to Whatever Life Gives You

I gradually let go of my need to solve problems. Instead, I focused on creating what I truly wanted in my life and world. I stopped imposing my will on others, the world, and myself. I began to do as the poet Rumi suggests; I let myself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what I really loved.

Suddenly, life got a lot easier. It was as if someone removed that 50 pounds of rocks from of my pack. My legs felt stronger, my step lighter. I felt as if I was striding relaxed and easily up the mountain of my life.

Yes, I still had problems. I still faced obstacles and adversity, but I accepted them instead of fighting against them. I embraced difficulties as "givens," raw material out of which to create what mattered to me. I learned from adversity, and rose above it. I started saying "yes" to whatever came along.

It was a great day when I realized I could create success and happiness with whatever life gave me. I reinvented my business to reflect my new insights. I interacted better with clients. My writing became easier and more effective.

And, in no time, I began to feel the flow John had talked about.

My life, I realized, was very good. Yes!


About The Author: Shop Amazon - Top Gift Ideas
Bruce Elkin is a 20-year life coach. He works with high potential people who are stuck, stalled, or drifting. He can help you create what matters—in spite of problems or obstacles. * Read how in his new ebook Emotional Mastery: Manage Your Moods and Create What Matters Most—With Whatever Life Gives You! at: http://www.BruceElkin.com

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