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Not a day goes by in which I don’t stop myself from saying or doing something. Pesky thoughts take over. What if I mess I up? What if other people think my question was stupid, my suggestion was trite, or my participation was annoying? And instead of living the life I want to live, I just continue to sit there in my chair and do nothing. Nothing, except watch the life I could have pass me by.
What Could Be
Contrast this with the results of conquering the moment.
Picture someone sitting on a train. The morning’s been normal. Quiet. Not a care in the world.
Across from him sits a girl who starts reading his favorite book. He’s intrigued by her and desperately wants to start a conversation.
What could go wrong? She could ignore him or blow him off. The conversation could go poorly. She could hate the book. She could tell him she’s seeing somebody. And a hundred different ways that simply saying, “How’re you enjoying such and such book?” could go sideways.
For the confident who roam among us, they’ll move on with their day. Won’t consider it again, unless they’re just patting themselves on the back for being among the few in this world who are able to do that.
But what could go right?
Are you about to have a far more pleasant train ride? Or about to make a new friend? Perhaps it will lead to a date, or you might even have found the girl of your dreams you’ve been pondering for the last decade.
Think about the cost-benefit analysis here!
You can have everything you’ve ever wanted in life. And all it would cost you is a small risk of embarrassment… which is also all in your head. Some people do the same thing, feel no shame whatsoever, and even if it is the biggest flop imaginable, they go on with their day. In fact, the next day, they try it all again.
Why are they different? They’re living life on their own terms, not held back by fears, and the other many silly thoughts we all experience that prevent us from walking away from our week living on a cloud, doing mental cartwheels in acknowledgement that we got up off our asses and did something new and special.
And for me, fear isn’t even the biggest factor. It’s a factor, to be sure. But it pales in comparison to the extent that I don’t like having my routine uprooted. Even if my day isn’t the most optimized it could possibly be, I’ve grown complacent. I’ve learned to be content just falling back into a routine. Any routine. As long as it’s there and keeping me generally busy and content, deviation is rendered anywhere between unsettling and downright painful.
But in the past few weeks, I’ve fought against my urge to just have today look exactly like yesterday.
The best way to get there is to just say “yes”. Do you want to try the new bar? Yes. Do you want to take a 90s hip-hop dance class? Yeah, sure. Do you want to fly to Brazil and study Capoeira for a month? Why the hell not!?
None of my experiences are all that dramatic; however, they’re all wonderful and incredibly impactful to me.
Me on the Screen
Just before starting my new job, I was asked to be in a short film. Sorry to say it’s not finished yet, so I’ve got nothing to show. And I also have no idea whether or not I did a decent job.
All I know is, instead of lounging in my apartment doing Duolingo or heading out for my daily gym fix, I spent the day out in the sun getting filmed. It was fun. It was eye opening. And I can’t wait to see the results.
And if the following day I looked back and said, “Why didn’t I do that? It’s a new experience. And I’d love to see what I look like on camera. Why didn’t I just say yes?” I would have beat myself up about it, feeling like life is short, and before I know it, I won’t have had the experiences I wanted to have.
Similarly, I was asked to be on a podcast about divorced men in the Jewish community. I didn’t know the people I’d be speaking with, nor did I have an hour to spare that evening. And as much as it’s abundantly clear that I like to air my thoughts and opinions out to the world, I wasn’t 100% sold on talking to strangers (and who knows who might listen) about some of the most complicated parts of my life.
But I knew if I had said “no”, I would have kicked myself. I would have thought it a missed opportunity. And a lost chance to get some of my messages out there to those who might listen.
So I said yes, both to the film and the podcast.
A Dancing Yes
Just like I said yes to go to a friend’s line dancing class.
Listen world: I can’t dance. I don’t even understand the concept. To me it just looks like some people have it, and the rest of us might admire the art, but we just can’t figure out how to get our bodies to do something that is actually pleasant for others to watch.
But whether or not they can admit it, in some form or another, everyone likes to dance.
Everyone likes to just let go and have a little fun without a care in the world.
And so I went with my wife and daughter, and I had an absolutely fantastic time. Had I not gone, the next day I would have looked back with confusion, wondering why I didn’t just hop at another fun opportunity.
A Speaking Yes
And recently at work–a job I’d been at for a week–I had an opportunity for a bit of public speaking. I could have ignored the possibility and no one would have noticed. There were less than zero expectations that I would try doing something like that.
And to boot, I’m still nervous about public speaking in general. I’ve done plenty of it, but one of my main reasons is because I have fears I feel I need to fight against. I never want to be ruled by stupid fears, so given the opportunity to test myself, I take it.
And again, no regrets.
That isn’t to say I love every risk I take or I walk away a better person from every moment in my life where I say “yes” to interesting and peculiar suggestions. But I still never regret those decisions. It’s how I learn. It’s how I grow. And the endless possibilities that arise from putting yourself out there in the world are infinitely greater than the supposed risk at hand.
If someone comes to you with a proposal for something that even interests you slightly, or piques your curiosity, just say “yes”. You never know where the craziness of life can take you!The endless possibilities that arise from putting yourself out there in the world are infinitely greater than the supposed risk at hand. Click To Tweet