On my 32nd birthday I found myself stuck on the JFK tarmac for two extra hours due to a weather delay, en route to Madrid. After playing the, “It’s my birthday” card with the flight attendants, scoring a few free mini bottles of wine, I sat back and started the solo movie marathon on my way over the Atlantic: it was “Yes Man” starring Jim Carrey.
If you haven’t seen it yet…go rent it today! Through its silliness and moments of expected Jim Carey hilarity, the underlying message struck a chord with me. Carey plays a middle-aged, loan officer who leads an unextraordinary life and is accustomed to saying “no” to everything. He’s begun to alienate friends, never moves ahead in his career, and has developed a bad habit of closing himself off to life and all its opportunities. After attending a self-help seminar where attendees make a covenant to say “Yes” to everything…and anything, his life begins to transform in amazing and unexpected ways.
At face value, this flick is a predictably fun, brand of 90-minute, Jim Carey comedy. (And anyone who knows me knows I shy away from the Hollywood drool of endless, formulaic films!) Yet, I chose to watch the film 2.5 times and laughed like an idiot throughout–but why? Because I am “Yes Man” and have recently built my lifestyle around this value system.
2008 was a tough year for me in several ways; I buried two grandmothers, closed both my companies down, and nearly went bankrupt. I retreated into my metaphorical cave and shut down to most of the world. At the end of the year I vowed to make 2009 incredible and milk the most out of every day, while being open to the universe and all it had to offer. I created a “101 Things To Do in 2009” list, naming items as simple as: sampling more international cheeses, indulging in a house cleaner, and reading the Declaration of Independence, to more loftier goals such as visiting Thailand, completing my scuba certification and hiking the Grand Canyon. (The list was easier to develop than I thought…which means subconsciously lurking were all these things I’ve always wanted to experience, learn, and try!) Never again did I want to waste a year, and look back regretfully to say, “Damn, I didn’t do any of the things I wanted to accomplish! Where did the year go? And how utterly unremarkable it was…”
Since I made that covenant with myself at the end of 2008, my life has been purely magical! I recently took my husband on a wonderful month-long vacation to Spain where most of our lodging across the country was free; I’ve been invited to vacation in Fiji , Mexico , and India to study with a renowned Guru. Business opportunities have flooded my gates, I’ve met many new people and made wonderful friends, I find myself in great health and training for one of the hardest Triathlons nationwide, and I live each day with such zest and fascination. Sometimes it feels as if I’ve lived 3 days to the actual 1. As for the 101 List of To Do Items… I’ve been happily knocking them down by the dozens, and even created an ancillary 101 List!
What I’ve learned about myself during this 6-month experiment of saying “Yes to Life” is when I embrace being ‘open’, I expect something good to happen every time and it does. Being authentically ‘open’ also has forced me to become more empathic, less selfish, and more compassionate to others. It’s removed the ability to go through life ‘half-ass’ which is an easy to rut to fall into. We become busy, get comfortable, and even ease into laziness. (I know I did!) The good news is it is simple to pull ourselves out of the “No” coma. It’s as easy as saying “Yes” to little things, like smiling back at a stranger, answering an Unknown Caller ID phone call, or meeting your inbox of Evites with hopefulness vs. impatience.
In the movie, “Yes Man”, Carey changes his life in a matter of weeks and welcomes many new life experiences, people, and opportunities. In addition to falling in love, he gets promoted in his career, reconnects with his friends and inspires many different individuals. His unremarkable life has radically transformed, and he is a happier man for it. Carey also learns there is such a thing as ‘balance’ to strike in life with being constantly open to life and opportunities.
And that balance is important to keep in mind, as agreeing to all things is unreasonable and potentially dangerous. As I find myself mentally and verbally saying, “Yes” to most opportunities that flow my way, I still exercise instinct, fiscal prudence and my own version of life harmony. I will ignore the invite to pierce my nipples, not join a cult, and not invest all my money in what resembles a Ponzi scheme.
What I will do, is wake up tomorrow morning and breathe in the delicious moment of NOW, and energetically say “Yes” to what life has to offer me because I know it will be fantastic! I suggest you try it: who knows, the next “Yes” you say could lead to meeting the person of your dreams, making a new best friend, drop the next incredible business opportunity in your lap, or inspire your biggest idea ever.
Be a “Yes Man” with me.