“I invite each of you to let go of your fears for just one day and say YES to life… say YES to love… say YES to You! You can always go back to saying ‘no’ another day.”
― Alaric Hutchinson
We all pursue happiness in different ways. Famous saints, authors, speakers, and professors, speak about the plethora of ways to find happiness. Some common suggestions include doing more yoga, being more mindful, establishing boundaries, exercising, socializing more, earning more, investing more, etc. If you want more recommendations, a quick look at one of your favorite social media websites will provide more numerous ways that guarantee happiness.
If some preaching or tool adds value to your life and makes you feel happy, do it. Don’t stop yourself. However, I want to ask you to not just rely on external preachings to find your happiness. Have you ever listened to a Ted Talk and got insanely inspired by the words of the speaker just to lose that inspiration as soon as the video ends? Or have you ever listened to a preacher and felt like you finally know how to make yourself happy just to lose the meaning of his/her words in the next few days? I must have tried at least 20 different practices myself and they all brought some benefit but only a few things stick. However, the one simple technique that no one told me about because it’s not mentioned in any of the preachings but the one that has proved to be most significant to me was a simple word – “Yes”. Saying “yes” to myself.
A few months back, I was feeling nostalgic and missing home. Due to Covid restrictions, I haven’t visited my family in almost two years and I can’t wait for the next time I get to travel. As a result, it’s common for me to miss home and my family every now and then. However, this time the feeling felt stronger than ever before so much so that I woke up one morning with this heaviness that I couldn’t shake. This time I chose to sit with my feeling and talk to myself like I would to my best friend- “You can’t go back to your hometown at this time. You can talk to your parents over a video call but that will only give you temporary relief. What is it that I can do to help you process this feeling?”. The answer came within seconds – “I want to go to the place I lived back in 2019”. This was an apartment where I had spent 3 months of my life where I had felt very independent and responsible. So, without a second thought, I made a 1-hour long trip to the place I once called home.
This place was still the same as I remembered it. There is a huge market area next to the former apartment that I used to frequent every day after work. There are some nice parks in the neighborhood and a trail where I used to go on long walks and run. I ended up spending some time in the market complex, followed by a walk across the parks and the trail. This trail had seen me introduce some changes to my lifestyle back in 2019. It has seen me give some importance to my body, had seen me lost in my thoughts, create my dreams, and be constantly amazed by the life that I was surrounded with. I ended up spending about half a day near my former apartment building and it was only at the end that I realized why I wanted to go back there.
Those 3 months had seen some unique changes in my life and mindset. I had found my dream job, got better at identifying my strengths and my weaknesses, I had realized where it was that I wanted to live my life, I had broken up with my then partner, I had met my best friend but above all, this was the place that had felt safe to be myself and see whom I could become one day. While walking on the trail, I tried to focus on the feelings that place brought up in me and I realized that I got the feeling of being at “home”. The answer made me wonder what was it about that place that made it feel like home and it was then that realized what I had been missing for so long.
In those 3 months, I had spent most of my time working on the projects that I loved. I went to bed at the same every night and woke up feeling fresh irrespective of how stressful the work was at times. I gave myself the permission to step out of my comfort zone and tried experiences that I always wanted to try but did not for fear of what others might think. I had recognized who I was at that time and had realized that I was forcing myself to be in a relationship that was not bringing me happiness anymore. I was passionate about my work, learned something new every day, and was in love with the impact that my work was making in the world. I went on runs (something that I am not very passionate about), wandered around the neighborhood to explore, and just allowed myself to observe the life that this place could offer me.
My “yes” to my unnecessary request to go to my former apartment brought out that feeling of being at home again. That half a day that I spent wandering about just like I used to back in 2019 helped me realize one significant lesson – “Home is where I want it to be”. I can make any place feel like home because it’s not about the place, it’s about the experiences, the people, the hobbies, the love, the wisdom that I surround myself with, and above all, it’s about me.
Since, then, I’ve consciously tried to develop a practice of saying “Yes” to myself. Before I proceed, saying “yes to yourself” does not mean saying yes to every temptation. It’s recognizing that we want to do something because we want to but are not necessarily seeking instant gratification. A few days after I made a trip to my former apartment, I found myself craving to meet more people with a spiritual inclination. A little research on Facebook led me to an event that I couldn’t have imagined myself attending. The event was meant to go on for 3 hours and I was scared to put myself between unknown people for that many hours without even knowing what it was meant for. Before leaving my apartment, I had told myself that if I didn’t like it, I would leave within an hour – that’s another practice I have developed to parent my inner child and let it know that it will be safe no matter what. Except I ended up loving the experience. I met people whom I could connect with instantaneously and got invitations to come for more future gatherings. Even more than the community that I got access to, meeting these people gave me important learning that I didn’t know I had been waiting for – No one knows what the purpose of life is but everyone is trying to figure it out the best way they can. You see, I had been trying so hard not to make mistakes and to find my life’s purpose because I didn’t want to see myself fail that I didn’t realize that I had started living my Spirituality out of fear. I was trying so hard to find the perfect teacher, guide, or Spiritual leader who could guide me that I had failed to realize that I am the one who create my path. My Spirituality comes from me. I am my Guide and I don’t have to look for a Guide outside of myself. This small event gave me more than my attempts at socializing have given me in the past few months.
The above two encounters proved to be a stepping stone into me stepping back into my power. That day’s event followed two more sessions with people who I had been avoiding because I was afraid of following the wrong path. Meeting these people has encouraged me t to build the life that I want to live. I also ended up enrolling for a course that I had been thinking about for more than a year now but could never validate my want enough to pursue it – Reiki Healing. A few days later, when I got this feeling to explore a new park in my city, I strolled through a park aimlessly for an hour just to find a lady whose physical fitness inspired me to enroll the help of a trainer because I wanted to honor my desire to have a better physical life and I recognized that I needed help in this area of my life to be as fit as I want to be.
Next week, I am moving back to the apartment that I once called home 🙂
I am pretty new to the idea of saying “Yes” to myself but I can already see how this can benefit me and help me become what I want to be. There are many benefits of saying yes to yourself:
- You start to say “No” to things that don’t align with you simply because you won’t have time for anything that doesn’t add value to your life
- You start to give yourself the validation and attention that you deserve and stop seeking validation outside of yourself
- Every day you learn something new about yourself
- You stop dreaming and you start living your dream
- You stop living the life that makes you “seek” happiness and you find happiness in your everyday life
- You stop running away from yourself because you love who are
- You start to admire the beauty around you and find ways to identify those elements of beauty within you
- You start to prioritize yourself and become more credible with your needs and desires
- You stop living your life to meet other’s expectations because you have your own dreams to realize
- You start to live
Finding happiness outside of you or trying to make sense of life through the words of someone else can only bring us temporary relief. When one of these tools or philosophies fails or does not meet our dreams, we end up criticizing these ways. The reason is not that those ideas were wrong, the reason is that they didn’t meet our needs for ourselves. The self-help books, the motivational speakers and artists, the various Gurus are not wrong. They all show different ways to make our lives a little better. However, if you’re like me where you seem to lose the meaning of these words or tools after following them judiciously for a while, try and change your lens, and spend some time with yourself. Ask yourself what makes you happy. Ask yourself why you admire a talented artist. Is his/her art something that you want to create but are too scared to start? Are you saying “Yes” to everyone else but forgetting to say “Yes” to yourself? There is no shortcut to happiness because there is no definite path to happiness. Happiness is what we make of it. It’s different for every individual because we’re all unique and we’re all capable of finding that path for ourselves.
In the Spiritual/Religious community, I see people running after Enlightenment or Salvation or whatever you want to call it. Every Guru/Teacher/Preacher seems to have cracked the final code or the right way to achieve true happiness. But can this code really be cracked when human beings have been trying to find the perfect way ever since we can remember? Is it necessary that something that worked for someone else will work for you? Can anyone other than you know what your heart, soul, body, and mind desire? If we don’t even know what happiness looks like to us, how can someone else give us a recipe for pure happiness? You are your Guide, no one else is because no one else can be. Everyone has worked hard in finding ways that have worked for them and it’s beautiful that some take the pain to share their paths with the world. The key aspect to remember, however, is that’s what worked for them. They are not you. You are you. We’re all humans and we all have our journeys. Even Gautam Buddha is said to have changed his preachings as he progressed in his journeys because his own perceptions kept changing the more he dived within himself. Was he wrong? No. Are his teachings the ultimate truth? Who knows? All we can know is what works for us and what does not. How can someone who is still finding his/her own path tell you that their path is the right path to follow? Their paths can guide you but no one can create your path for you but you. Gather knowledge from everywhere but choose your own wisdom over the rest. Share your knowledge with those you meet because your way might help someone find their own path. But recognize that their paths will be unique to them too.
Say “Yes” to yourself, your happiness, your path, your way of being, your heart’s desires, your energy, your intuition, your feelings, and your creativity. Create your life the way you want to live it not how others tell you to lead it. They have their own life to live, let them live. Come to the steering wheel of your life’s journey. There is a lesson waiting for you at every corner of your life and all it needs is for you to give permission to yourself to experience it. Our destinies will meet us when it comes but this journey is ours to create. Make the most of what you have now and be the person of your dreams. Everything that draws you towards someone else is waiting to shine within you. Give yourself permission to shine and say “Yes” to life.