Updated: Feb 3
What does it mean to say yes? Think about times when you have said yes to a partner, a friend, a situation. How did you feel? How did it turn out? This is my yes story: I am a 45 year old woman, happily married with two kids, and I said yes to a new beginning, or maybe more accurately, a new way of living! I have said yes to a career change, a career that I believe will have so many moments of joy and love, as well as one with a true and fulfilling purpose. I said yes to the study of positive psychology at the Wholebeing Institute.
For most of my career, I was, and still am, a freelance musician, more specifically what is called a vocal coach. This line of work, although creative and exciting at times, is also a stressful and unpredictable way of life, to be sure. When a full-time job was presented to me from an established opera company, I was excited and eager to join the group, if not a bit relieved. The lure of steady pay and benefits from a company that hired me for my expertise, was strong and inviting but I quickly learned how toxic the environment was. For three years, my colleagues and I were victims of gaslighting, manipulation and contempt. Unsatisfied and disillusioned, my life just didn’t feel like mine. We’ve all been there: rushing from one thing to the next, not feeling in control, getting in bed at night knowing you are exhausted but unable to sleep. The emotional and physical toll that existence took on me and my family was so awful that on top of everything else, I was living with crushing feelings of guilt and shame. I didn’t know what was next for me, or what I was going to say yes to at the time, but I did know I had no other choice: I had to leave.
Admittedly, leaving a steady job, although I was miserable, was still scary. What was next for me? What would the financial burden be on my family? At this point, it was very important to me to reach out to friends and colleagues who knew what I was going through, to nurture my relationships with those who love me. I said yes to coffee with old friends, to meeting new friends, and to renewing the bonds of my marriage. Feeling a little shaky with my decision, I needed to have faith in my family who supported me, faith in the friends who helped guide me to this fork in the road, and faith in that little voice in my head saying, “This is right! Go for it!”
I said yes to the opportunity to grow, to understand myself, to really get to know my motives on a much deeper and spiritual level. I said yes to the hope that I will gain knowledge from and understand the science behind positivity. How can changing my thoughts lead to happiness? What actionable steps can I take right now that will build a happier life for myself? What does it actually mean to have a happy life? I am early in my training, but one thing I have learned is I will not find the answers to these questions by saying no.
Initially, I said yes to change, to hope, and then ultimately, to help. Although this journey begins with a hard, deep look inward, I can already feel the urge to look outward, to become more other-focused. By combining the tools and the knowledge I will gain through my training at the Wholebeing Institute, along with all of my life experiences, this truly is about helping others. Positive psychology teaches us that a meaningful life, one that engages in deep learning while being open to new experiences and fostering constructive relationships, can ultimately lead to a happier life. To live just isn’t enough anymore. Now I want to flourish!
What could you say yes to right now? What thoughts excite you, make you feel a little shaky, or maybe even scare you? What matters to you? What actions could you take today towards those goals? These actions could be small, but added up over time, they can be a powerful force for good, not only for yourself but for your community. As an example, perhaps you wish you were more patient with those around you. If you were to choose to be more patient, what action or actions could lead to that quality? Find a few quiet moments for yourself throughout the day, take deep, slow breaths and let those “hot” emotions pass before reacting. This is a small but powerful action that can lead to positive change.
I asked you at the beginning of this blog how you felt when you said yes to someone or something. I’ll ask the same of myself and I will tell you for the first time in a very long time, I am optimistic, hopeful and confident that I made the right decision. Maybe you don’t have an answer yet, so I would challenge you to find your yes. Finding ways, great and small, to flourish all starts with saying yes.
- Positive Psychology Coach in Training
“I am thankful for my struggle because, without it, I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength." - Alex Ell