What do you think would happen if you said “yes” when you really want to say “no”? It actually might feel really good.

I was raised to say “no” before I said “yes”—well, not exactly to say “no,” but to think critically before blindly jumping into action. It’s not that I’m a nay-sayer or a negative person. In fact, those who follow me know that I am generally a doer, not a watcher. But yes, I was trained by the best to think thoroughly, plan carefully, ask questions and watch out for pitfalls. That made me great at many things, including leading Bottom Line Inc. But it also made me hold back a bit when it came to letting go and truly enjoying life’s simple pleasures.

Then, about 15 years ago, I met author, yogi and meditation instructor Elena Brower. We were part of a small group of women who met monthly to focus on personal growth and making a difference in the world. At one of our sessions, Elena announced that she had brought words for each of us. Huh? Before the meeting, she’d had an idea and had meditated on words that she felt would be an inspiration for each person in the group.

My word was “yes.” Not anything sexy like “humble” or “generous” or “motivating.” Nope…just the simple word “yes.” I was surprised when she told me my word—it was like my whole perspective went “klunk” and moved me to a new place.

“Yes” felt open and full of possibility. It shifted my perspective and made me realize how rarely I simply said “yes,” opting instead for deep consideration followed by agreement or acquiescence.

Think about it. To state the obvious, “yes” is positive. It feels good. It is expansive.

In contrast, “no” feels closed—to relationships, growth, opportunity, you name it.

Sure, the holiday season is a busy one. And I know a number of people who are trying to set better boundaries and take things off their plates, so you can’t say yes to everything or everyone. But you can say “yes” to many simple things that can help you feel better about yourself and the world each day.

Here are 25 simple things anyone can say “yes” to…

  1. A child who wants to play or read a book.
  2. A tour of the holiday lights.
  3. Allowing someone to go in front of you on a line…in traffic…or through a door.
  4. Sending a text to let someone know you’re thinking of them.
  5. A hug.
  6. A foot massage.. even if you have to do it yourself.
  7. Tasting a new food or making a new recipe.
  8. Exercising five minutes more than you thought you could.
  9. Cleaning out one drawer or closet or cleaning off one table or countertop.
  10. Drinking more water.
  11. Taking a walk in the sunshine, no matter how brief.
  12. Talking with a recruiter or perspective employer—you never know what you will learn.
  13. Calling a childhood friend who you haven’t been in touch with for a long time.
  14. Stepping out alone to dinner or a movie, especially if you’re not generally an alone kind of person.
  15.  Telling your spouse/partner/family members that you love and appreciate them.
  16.  Meeting someone new, especially when someone you love makes the introduction. (This happened to me recently, and it has totally changed my life—I am now involved in tutoring and working with children.)
  17. Turning off the screens—both big and small—for a little while each day.
  18. Learning one new word or interesting fact each day.
  19. Eating an extra serving of vegetables.
  20.  Rounding up your total at the grocery store by a dollar or two to donate to charity.
  21.  Stretching for five minutes before you get out of bed.
  22.  Participating in an activity with family that isn’t your first choice…and doing it eagerly.
  23.  Taking up a new hobby.
  24.  Helping someone even when you don’t feel like it.
  25.  Pausing to look at a beautiful sunset… taking a moment to look up at the sky. It’s always interesting and humbling.

“Yes” is a lot more than merely doing or being. “Yes” is a mindset. At times of challenge or stress, “yes” actually has become one of my silent mantras that pushes me past fear and into the belief that I can succeed. Give it a try. Yes, you can.

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