Silver Yes Ring by Ringbinder

When I wrote about having a Yes Day at our house, I was surprised with a couple of very negative reactions.

“Nope, not a good idea,” one commenter on Pinterest said.

“I could not do this with my kids,” another said.

We all do it. We automatically respond with a big fat no — no to our dreams, no to what we might want to do but just doesn’t seem practical, no to this and to that. We especially say no to our children — our innocent, free-spirited children who are constantly seeking fun and playful experiences — experiences that should make us laugh or be silly but seem inconvenient, childish or simply against what society would want us to do.

Plus, one yes leads to more begging. If you give them an inch they will want a mile.

I know, I know …

And yet, I also know that in my own life saying Yes can be the difference between an ordinary moment and an extraordinary moment. Yes can lead to love and peace a lot faster than NOPE, NO WAY, UH-HUH, NO CAN DO. I’m a big fan of peace and calm and believe that’s how children thrive. The less we argue the happier we all are at home.

Part of this Awake journey has been Minding my Nos — carefully understanding the reasoning behind my negative reaction to an idea — any idea, including my own. Often, when I say no {and I say no a lot to the children} I quickly realize my no was an automatic no, which is just a No that was said without thought or reasoning. It was  just a spur of the moment response that seems like the right answer at the time because I was too busy to stop and think.

Usually, after just a little thought, I realize my irrational response might have been spoken in haste. And, I simply change it to a yes. This is, according to the experts, the WORST parenting fail in the world, by the way. {We are still happy and my children are still very well behaved, I’m happy to report.}

Still, I’ve been trying to think first, react later — to avoid inconsistency and before any true harm can be done.

The great thing about this process is that it helps you feel good about your answer. You’ve thought it through. You understand the true impact. You can rest easy knowing you made a truly intentional and rational choice rather than a fly-by-the-seat decision.

And, the less Nos we use the more effective they are when we do use them.

Of course, sometimes No has to be No. Such as when the outcome may cause physical or emotional harm to a person or animal or something (like black marker on white couch). It might be No because of lack of resources – like money or time. It might be No because the request does not fit your values or it completely breaks your family rules.

On this journey to Wake Up, I am trying to think before I say no — and I’m also trying to say yes more! The results, much like my gratitude practice, has been pretty incredible. I feel more alive. No is no longer really an excuse for me. By being more open to the Yeses in my life, I’ve met new friends, found new opportunties (hello blog!), finished  a novel, taught writing classes and retreats, and many other successes. All of this simply because I woke up one day and decided to say yes rather than no.

The same can go for our time with our children. Will a second cookie really hurt? No — as long as they brush their teeth. Will an extra 15 minutes of TV hurt? No – as long as we run and play for an hour afterward or before. Will telling that same silly story for the millionth time really hurt? No — it’s just how they learn.

Here are a few questions I TRY to ask myself before saying No:

Why am I saying no?

Why am I really saying no?

If I say yes, who or what will be harmed?

Will this issue matter in a month, a year?

How will saying Yes keep peace in this house?

Sometimes, there’s no time to think before a response. That’s OK. When there is time, that’s the time and place to practice intentional reactions. Sometimes, the answer is just No. That’s OK. It might be Yes tomorrow. Sometimes, the Yes should have been a No but there’s not a thing we can do about that. So just enjoy the Yes ride anyway.

What would you like to say Yes to right now? Is there a yes that needs to be said in your life today?

Perhaps someone you love just needs a simple yes, even if not a whole Yes Day.