How to Live in the Land of Yes

Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.
~Epictetus

What does it mean to live in the land of Yes? When you inhabit Yes, you are open, receptive, available. You approach each moment with wonder and curiosity, without expectation, with openness.

In the land of Yes, you don’t close down or shut yourself away. You don’t avoid or resist. You are here, present, awake, aware, alive.

How Do You Say No?

If we want to live in Yes, we must understand no. How do you say, “No” to life? Here are some clues:

  • I don’t want this to be happening.
  • I don’t want to feel this way.
  • I want to be reacting differently.
  • I want him to be behaving differently.
  • She should be doing or saying…
  • This shouldn’t be happening.
  • I don’t want to be sick, unhappy, in pain, stressed.
  • My past should have been different.

Can you feel the no? It boxes you in and traps you in a corner. And it does absolutely nothing to change your reality. In fact, as the adage says, “What you resist persists.” Resisting reality has a paradoxical effect – it strengthens exactly the experience you wish would disappear.

Stand up and try pushing against a wall. Does the wall move? Are you making any progress? Now, stop pushing, and everything changes. You relax, you give up the fight, you accept.

Yes Is Discriminating

It is important to recognize that living in the land of Yes, doesn’t mean you become a doormat. Yes is discriminating. When you see things as they are, without blinders on, your next step becomes obvious. You choose without adding in the drama of resistance.

Say that your friend is always late when you have a plan to get together. You are sitting there waiting, and you feel tense. Your mind swirls with angry thoughts. You think of the times you already mentioned this problem, but she doesn’t seem to listen. This is resistance.

Now, let’s move into the land of Yes. First, fully accept the situation – her lateness, your tension and frustration. What are your choices? You can enjoy your present circumstances, moving from waiting to sitting, looking, hearing, appreciating. You can call her and let her know you will be leaving in 10 minutes. You can tell her you won’t be making plans with her anymore. You can recognize that you are willing to love her as she is.

The End of Drama

See how it works? When you let go of resisting, choices appear, and you make one. Either accept what is happening exactly as it is or change something. And here is what you can change – your behavior, how you hold your thoughts and feelings.

But sitting in frustration and running an angry story in your mind about her only has one result – you suffer. I don’t know about you, but I choose to not suffer.

The Joy of Yes

In the land of Yes, you are present and aware. You aren’t fueled by fear or resentment. You are free of conditioning from the past and worry about the future.

When you arrive at Yes, you might be surprised at how peaceful you can be about things that once bothered you. You might laugh at how useless negative thinking is. Your whole way of being in the world may transform.

Where in your life are you resisting? What are you saying “no” to and what is the effect? Are you bumping into walls every way you turn?

Let yourself be amazed by living in the land of Yes. Make the choice now, and you will realize that you are never truly stuck. In any moment, say Yes. Drop the trouble, take a breath, and open to the truth of things as they are. Life is here, right now, waiting patiently for your Yes.

Are you resisting? What has been your experience when you enter the land of Yes? I’d love to hear…

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26 Comments

  1. Posted April 6, 2011 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Hi Gail,

    I’m really enjoying these posts, which I now receive via email. Thank you.

    Vicky x

    • Posted April 6, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      You are most welcome, Vicky. Glad to have you along as part of our community here.

  2. Posted April 6, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Gail,

    I’m definitely packing my bag and moving to the land of Yes! right now. Thanks for the directions for how to get there. :)

  3. Posted April 6, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Hi Gail,

    What a beautiful post!

    Living in the land of yes sounds a bit like living mindfully with a twist :)

    I love how you demonstrate that the acceptance of what is leads you to having choices – ones you didn’t realize you had…

    Thanks!

    • Posted April 7, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      Hi Dorlee,

      Is this the first time you have commented here?? I feel like I know you from twitter. A warm welcome to you.

      I love that – living mindfully with a twist! “Yes” is mindfulness, acceptance, and a wide open heart all rolled into one.

      And choices – here is what happens. We step out of our old patterns or mindset and discover options we never before realized. Life can be so sane!

  4. avatar Clare
    Posted April 7, 2011 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I won’t ignore that the bells and whistles went off when I read “my past should have been different”. I really thought I had moved on from this, but there it was, that little burning sensation in my stomach. Perhaps I need to move from the land of denial to the land of Yes. Thanks for the post.

    • Posted April 7, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      Good for you, Clare, for being honest in admitting a burning when you thought you had already moved on. These things often come up in layers, and you are being asked to move through another layer of denial. And I suspect that you will. Happy traveling…

  5. Posted April 7, 2011 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Powerful and moving post Gail. I’d like to share a quote I saw a few days ago by e.e.cummings.

    “i thank you God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky: and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes”

    • Posted April 7, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      I know this poem by ee cummings, Chris, and I thank you so much for quoting it here. The imagery of a poem, especially this one, can be so clear in its description.

      Love to you…

  6. Posted April 7, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Saying yes and going with the flow is much easier then resisting what is happening.

    I still go back and forth between resisting and allowing. I believe that the resistance is caused by unconscious fear. At least I recognize that part.

    • Posted April 7, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

      Welcome to you, Justin. So glad you stopped by.

      If you recognize that resistance is caused by unconscious fear, you are well on your way to being free of it. It won’t be able to hide from your loving conscious awareness in the same way anymore. These patterns of resisting take some time to unwind – so we go back and forth.

      This is not a problem. We keep our intention in mind and accept things as they come with a huge, open heart.

  7. Posted April 8, 2011 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    “You can tell her you won’t be making plans with her anymore.”

    This is an example of saying “No”. Resistance takes many forms subtle and gross.

    • Posted April 8, 2011 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      Mr. LK,

      It depends on where it is coming from. I’m not a big fan of beating my head against a wall. If I don’t want to hang out with someone who is always late, and I try but fail to come to some resolution with them, it is wisdom, not resistance, to not want to continue to make plans with her. Sometimes living in the land of Yes means saying no – clearly, with no drama and no residue.

      • Posted April 11, 2011 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        While there is a good reason to consider setting and defending boundaries to be psychologically healthy, it is still resistance, no-sometimes-meaning-yes notwithstanding.

  8. Posted April 9, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I spoke last fall on being a Person of Yes! What a powerful concept to live in the Land of Yes! Recently I have been a person of no, or no way, or not a chance. What a great reminder to shift back to the other side. Thank you!

    • Posted April 9, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Hi Galen,

      I love how we receive just what we need at just the right time. Welcome back to the Land of Yes.

  9. avatar Nessa
    Posted April 9, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Hi Gail
    Thank you for your post which reminded me of the futility and pain thoughts like “I don’t want this to be happening.” bring.
    I try to live in the land of yes, but unfortunately I get overwhelmed with worries, things to do and end up in the land of NO. Whenever I become consciously aware I am there I stop breathe and breathe again, that helps with my daytime problems
    Any suggestions on how to stop waking up at 3am in the land of no?
    Thank you for your inspiration

    • Posted April 10, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Hi Nessa, and welcome to you.

      What you describe is so common – getting absorbed in worries and things to do. But even in the midst of these, you become conscious so you can stop and breathe. This is the moment of celebration. The more we are open to these moments and willing to let them permeate our lives, the more they will come.

      Regarding waking up at 3am, there are many tools – you will need to find the ones that work for you. Not that I am always successful with this, but I have trained myself to put the worries down, and in the morning, they usually don’t seem that urgent. The most useful thing you can do is not resist the fact that you are up at 3am. This only fuels more tension and struggle. If you are up, you are up. Try to breathe, relax your body from head to toe, and invite in sleep. This is a very short version of what is possible. If you google “sleep hygiene,” you will find much more.

  10. Posted April 10, 2011 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    Hi Gail.

    Being discriminating is the only way to progress functionally. Defaulting to saying “no” appears to be the way to go. When I see offers or event invites, I now look to default to “no”. Then, I think about the item and its relevance to me. This helps to avoid things I wouldn’t get value out of anyway.

    Then, when I do say “yes”, it is more valuable.

    We have to be careful with our ‘yes’es, or else we end up as that doormat you mentioned, unable to rise socioeconomically.

    • Posted April 10, 2011 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Hi Armen,

      You bring up an interesting twist to this idea of saying yes and no. You start with no so that you can be discriminating. I totally get this, but I might use different words. For me, it’s “stop” or “let’s see” or “what is this.” Rather than no, it’s a not knowing until I become clear about which way to go.

      Either way, this discrimination is wisdom. We take things in, then allow the right response to appear. And I love how you say that when it is “yes” it is more valuable.

  11. Posted April 12, 2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Gail, this is a great piece. Once, during a meditation, I was given a symbol of saying “Yes.” Meditating on my life’s purpose, I was guided to live with a more open heart and I saw a symbol of that as a heart surrounded by warming flames of compassion.

    After the meditation I drew what I saw, and later created a pendant and necklace of the symbol I was shown. I still wear that pendant today as a reminder to stay open, to saying “Yes.”

    Since that time, I’ve grown in a number of ways. I’ve repaired relationships, created new ones, gained more financially, and have shifted from a focus of lack to one of gratitude and abundance.

    You couldn’t be more correct in your admonition to say “Yes!”

    • Posted April 12, 2011 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      What a beautiful story, Gordon. I can see that that simple “yes” has transformed you in so many ways.

      What you write about is a testimony to what is possible for all of us: “I’ve repaired relationships, created new ones, gained more financially, and have shifted from a focus of lack to one of gratitude and abundance.” If we put our attention on to what is most important to us, these shifts are inevitable, and we get to experience the fruits of our intention.

      Thanks so much for your inspiration.

  12. avatar Crystal
    Posted April 12, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Gail–thank you.
    Two things keep happening to me lately. The first is, I keep having these amazing conversation with wise, older men. The second is Yes. ‘Yes’ started because I realized that over the course of the last year, I had somehow turned into a No Person and I knew I needed to change. So, I watched Yes Man with Jim Carrey. Then I watched it a second time for good measure. Then I was in a used bookstore only to see the book that inspired the movie there. So I bought it. And now, today, when I really, really, really need to remember Yes, I read your post.

    To all of it, and to you, and to life itself, I say, Yes!

    (I also say thank you)

    • avatar Crystal
      Posted April 12, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Oh, yes (snicker!), and the other thing regarding Yes. Every year I put together a calendar of my photography and add in quotes I love. This month’s quote: “I imagine that yes is the only living thing.” e.e. cummings.

    • Posted April 13, 2011 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Welcome to you, Crystal.

      I love how these reminders show up at just the right time. I also enjoyed the movie Yes Man. It definitely makes the point.

      I am finding that as I say Yes to everything, the way my life navigates begins to become very clear and effortless. Maybe you are noticing the same thing.

      Love to you…

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