(Video link here.) This week I’ve been contemplating the challenge of saying yes. I was sent a TED Talk from last year in which Sasha Dichter discusses a neat experiment: for a full month, every time he was asked for something, he said yes. Dichter works in philanthropy, so cultivating personal generosity and connecting it to his work has a very particular meaning. But he raised an interesting point that we think is worth thinking about in our own lives. As a philanthropist, Dichter grew very comfortable saying “no,” but found that
“…pretty soon no becomes who you are and what I realized is, I needed a new habit and a new reflex. When I want to teach my kids to say please and thank you, it requires repetition and it requires practice.”
I started thinking about this idea of saying yes as a practice; what saying yes more often might look like. What’s buried beneath all the No? Maybe saying yes means giving someone my spare change, doing a friend a favor, or going out to eat with someone I haven’t seen in a while. Maybe it means making a donation, or signing a petition, or going to an event I wouldn’t normally attend. Whatever its shape, how would it make me feel?
After a month of practicing yes, Dichter felt more generous, more open, and more action-oriented. He felt more Yes than No. Although I initially bristle at the idea of replying with “yes” when “no” is more comfortable, I’m dying to know what Yes feels like.
For those who aren’t ready for the yes experiment, make it private practice. What would saying yes look like for you?
Want to know how to say YES in American Sign Language?