How many of us want to make changes in our lives, sometimes a big change? We often pine for something different and desire some sort of change but find the concept of change to be frightening. It is scary because what is familiar to us makes us feel secure. It gives a sense of control. We believe that what is familiar will always be there, and so we can predict the future. Same job, same home, same relationships. Constancy gives us comfort.
This is not true, of course. The world is constantly changing, and that includes you. Those changes may be incremental enough that the change isn't threatening; your mind absorbs the new changes quickly enough. New coworkers, new neighbors, new tasks at work, a new restaurant in your area, a new t.v. show. Change is constant but not threatening. Our fear of big changes like a new job or a new home or a new relationship is rooted in the underlying belief that things could get worse. Not just different -- worse! So we tell ourselves that we're better off staying in the job that we don't like because the next one might be just as bad, or we stay in relationships that aren't growing because, well, it's better than being alone.
What people do not realize is that they are often resisting even the small, non-threatening changes. To be open to change, you have to begin to cultivate a level of openness, receptivity, and trust that the universe really does have your best interest at heart. You have to begin to believe that good will come your way, and that good isn't always in the form you expect it to be. Because change might be "worse" than what we currently have, we often approach everything new as a danger. The world becomes an enemy, and to defeat that enemy we marshal the weapon of “no," brandishing it as a shield to keep everything new and different at bay. Want to try that new restaurant, a new dish, a new route home, read a new book, go someplace you've never been, talk to someone you've never met, etc.? No, no, no!
Instead of resisting everything, why not say yes? This might seem ridiculous to some, radical to others, or even impossible to still others. But it’s a wonderful practice to counteract our resistance and our usual litany of defense mechanisms to all of the small changes and offerings you receive on a daily basis. Unless you know that this is going to cause you physical or emotional harm or impact your safety (like unwanted sexual advances), for at least one day, suspend your disbelief and every time you feel the impulse to say “no,” say “yes” instead.
Say yes to every invitation, request or offer you get that you would normally say no to. Someone offers you a newspaper or pamphlet, just say yes and take it. All you’re doing is accepting it. Go ahead and accept the pamphlet that tells you that you must repent or you will be eternally condemned; go ahead and read it. Where's the harm? The friend who invites you to an event at the last minute and to which you’d normally pass so you could go home and microwave a meal and watch Netflix, say yes. Someone asks you to an event where you'll have to meet new people (horror!), go ahead and try it. Be willing to get outside your comfort zone.
Not everything has to require that you do something or agree to do something. Saying “yes” can be the response to things that you normally disagree with. Say the train is coming late, and you start to say, “No, no, no – the train can’t be late today, I have a meeting!” Instead, just say, “Yes, the train is late.” That’s all. Just accept it, literally, by acknowledging that the train is indeed late. That can mean saying yes to lots of ideas in the world, many that you don’t agree with. You may hear political and religious ideas that you disagree with, maybe even vehemently. That’s okay. Just say yes to them all in your head for one single day.
As you start to say yes, pay close attention to how you feel. Initially, it can be quite uncomfortable to people. You might notice how often you want to say “no” or that saying “yes” brings up all other sorts of judgmental thoughts, like, “What are people going to think of me when I show up at that hipster bar I always refuse to go to?” Or “what if I read this pamphlet handed to me about Jesus and I find it persuasive? What will that mean?” "What if I go to that restaurant, the meal sucks, and I've spent all that money?" None of these questions matters. In fact, they’re a good sign that your ego’s pushing back against your willingness to say “yes.” Just thank your mind for giving you all these interesting questions to contemplate, let it know that you’re not going to worry about them now because you’re too busy picking out a new outfit for this impromptu outing or busy reading with zeal the pamphlet that you’ve usually rejected or thrown out immediately.
What this process means is saying “yes” to being a bit uncomfortable. Who ever said getting rid of deeply ingrained mental habits was going to be comfortable? No one. I certainly didn’t, and I won’t, because I’d be lying. So say “yes” to being uncomfortable, “yes” to feeling awkward, “yes” to the possibility you might enjoy and embrace some of the things that you say “no” to because they actually allow to find a true part of yourself that you’ve also said “no” to for so many years.
Now, don't worry: you aren’t going to suddenly become some version of yourself that you don’t recognize at all. What you are going to see is that by saying "yes," the judgment of everything you normally reject softens a bit, and the fierce grip you have on your positions – the ones that you are certain are “right” – likewise relaxes. Rather than abandon fundamental principles that govern your life, you might find your own relationship to them improves because you don’t feel such a ferocious need to defend them.
More importantly, you are going to realize that you can start to say "yes" to a great deal more things, and that even more exciting adventures and invitations will start coming your way when you become more open and receptive because, yes, the universe has your back and has so much more in store for you if you're willing to take a leap. Soon enough, you might find yourself ready to say yes to the new job, the new home, the new relationship.