I remember my crotchety, old Aunt Fannie, whom I loved very much, but who was chronically and woefully negative more often than not. My brother, David, and I used to play a game where we would think of something Aunt Fannie would really want, then slowly offer it to her, waiting, and hearing the “No” she’d bark back before hearing the rest of the question. Oh, we’d say. No ice cream for you, huh, we’d giggle.
Several times this week I’ve encountered those impossible No’s and it made me think about the doors we could open by switching to the “Yes” word. Seems simple, doable. Let’s go for it. However I’m thinking it may not be that easy. In everyday moments, I don’t always realize how often I jump to saying “No,” perhaps if only to buy myself a moment to formulate my super intelligent reply to a question. “No” makes me feel independent, powerful, and very analytical. “No” allows me to make a statement, be impressive, hold a grudge, be contrary.
On the other hand, it’s possible that if we ditch the “No” word, we strip it of it’s power! Wooohooo! We cause all hell to gloriously break loose, quickly dissipating into thin air, leaving space for all kinds of joyful happenings to occur.
Recently, I was at the senior center taking a tour, and after getting a glimpse of a beautifully appointed commercial kitchen, I rounded the corner to see a great piano sitting with a plastic cover on it. Pianos are like magnets to me — so much potential just waiting to come forth from those keys.
After having read the center’s impressive, extensive calendar of luncheons, classes, programs, and daily events, I imagined all the moments of fun they must have, circled around that piano or sitting at their card tables playing bridge, mahjong, and listening to some familiar old songs in the background. I asked the lady at the front desk about playing. Do they have a pianist, a volunteer to provide background music at their events, I asked, thinking I’d offer. I have such fond memories of time I spent with a Music Therapy group in El Paso, performing at rest homes, nursing homes and hospitals, watching feet start tapping that previously had no movement and heads raising to sing out lyrics they thought they’d forgotten. No, she said, they don’t have events. Well, what about their luncheons? receptions? Nope, don’t have any of those. So, the piano is never used and there’s no opportunity to use it? Well, alrighty.
So, I’m thinking, generally speaking, it’s pretty clear that the “No” word steers you straight into a dead end. No. Nope. No Through Street. Do Not Enter. It’s a word that typically halts any discussion, it puts the brakes on inspiration, can downright kill creativity, and it certainly does demotivate. It represses, demoralizes and pours cold water on everything around it.
It’s creates the opposite of these wonderful things listed below:
“Yes” opens doors. Yes keeps us moving forward. Yes gives flight to dreams. Yes gives us that luscious feeling of acknowledgment. Yes motivates and lifts us up.
But, you say, doesn’t hearing “No” help with character building? Yes, it does. Adversity can certainly build strength, (I’ve been there) but so can encouragement and understanding.
I vote for trying the positive method, using the “Yes” word as much as possible from now on. Adversity will find me on its own. In the meantime, hopes and dreams, forgiveness and restoration can be built where doors are held wide open for me and for you, for family, friends, strangers and acquaintances, by simply saying “Yes”.