Navigating Life with Yes


It’s not what happens to us that matters, it’s how we deal with what happens.

Our fast-paced world (which seems to be getting faster!) where we’re constantly bombarded with problems, difficult relationships and hourly “breaking news,” mixed in with a big scoop of constant self-loathing, is a recipe for a stressed out, unhappy life. So how do we find a concrete way to successfully navigate life so we stay balanced and centered? By shifting our “no” thoughts, words and actions and tapping into our intuitive YES energy — the all-knowing, deeper part of us, that connects the dots to who we really are — to our soul, then empowers us to change our lives.

Switching from the limiting “no” to the expansive “yes” on our lips and in our steps acts as an internal navigation system, helping us to deal positively with life’s hurdles. When we are always saying “no” (often that’s an automatic response) we’re going against the flow of life, which causes stress, anxiety, worry, anger and frustration. It has a ripple effect, leading to more “no” energy, sinking us into a chronically unhappy, unhealthy state. Our world shrinks, gets dull, empty and listless.

By tapping into yes, it’s food for the soul, nourishing and energizing us. Just saying the word “yes” on a regular basis, (to yourself and out loud) replaces negative thoughts and emotions. It puts us on the fast track to a more positive belief system that opens us up to possibility, freedom and a more peaceful state of mind (no matter how chaotic life gets). When yes (instead of no) becomes a habit, stress and all the negative emotions give way to more positive situations and opportunities.

The following are 10 tools and tips to activate more positive yes situations and opportunities:

  • Practice saying yes even when you’re tempted to say no. Keep track of your responses and thoughts. Notice how “yes” affects your energy and your entire state of being. Switch to yes, from no (“I can’t afford that,” “I can’t do that,” “that’ll never happen”) as often as you can, until it becomes a habit.
  • Create a personal mantra. This is a powerful yes tool, a “liberating of the mind,” which relieves stress and creates balance. It acts as an inner guide, helping you at any moment of the day when you get off course. Search online for a mantra that feels right for you. You can pick an ancient spiritual phrase or find a present day passage from a poem, quote or affirmation. Memorize it and say it to yourself over and over. As you continue this practice, it will seep into your cells and become part of your subconscious. When you have a crisis, this can be your powerful tool to provide calm, as if someone is holding you in their arms, assuring you everything will be okay.
  • Smile even when you don’t feel like it. You’ll notice when you say yes that you can’t help but smile. The laughing, giggling Dalai Lama encourages smiling every day to reduce stress and expand happiness. (Scientific research tells us that “smiling stimulates our brain’s reward mechanisms.”) The next time you’re frowning, switch it to a smile and feel what happens.
  • Do a Passage Meditation. We all know the power of meditation. But a lot of us get overwhelmed at the idea of “emptying our minds.” Eknath Easwaran’s Passage Meditation has you fill your mind with positive thoughts. First, memorize a passage that resonates for you, then “recite” the words internally over and over, focusing on the words and not the meaning. Over time, the powerful passage seeps into your subconscious.
  • Create a Yes Jar. (It can be a simple jelly jar.) Every time you have a powerful, positive experience, write it down on a slip of paper and put it in your yes jar. You’re not only documenting all the great things happening in your life, you’re creating powerful “fortune cookie” affirmations. You can’t help but be grateful as you reread your yes slips of paper. And when you’re grateful, you’re more centered and balanced. This will motivate you to stay in the yes mode. Remember, “happiness starts with wanting what you have, not having what you want.”
  • Let go and Move On. One of the best ways to de-stress is to say yes by letting go and moving on. When you’re in a no situation, either because of a big disappointment (an opportunity falls through, a relationship falls apart) or a negative confrontation (like road rage or a heated argument), stop. Repeat your mantra three times slowly as you breathe. Then see yourself letting the negative experience go. Then, see yourself walking away and moving on as you say yes to your life.
  • Surround yourself with a yes world. Immerse yourself in yes with the senses: visual images (beautiful pictures), auditory (soothing, beautiful music) and feeling (uplifting people, enjoyable experiences). Distance yourself from those no people and experiences that bring you down.
  • Spread the yes. One of the best de-stressors is taking the focus off ourselves and helping others. We know that giving is where the receiving is. Say yes to others as encouragement and support. Don’t rain on people’s parades. Leave them feeling great because they’ve spent time with you. Maya Angelou famously said: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
  • Get Up early. If you can (even once or twice a week) get up at sunrise. Do a meditation (even if it’s a short one). Add a couple of yes slips to your jar from the day before. Listen to the birds (they’re always up early!) and feel the quiet. Resist turning on the TV or the computer for as long as you can. Now, you can’t help but be at peace even if it’s for a short period of time. It’s a great way to start the day with yes energy.
  • Change your routine and break some old habits. A new experience instantly taps us into yes, because we have to say “yes” to have it! We’re creatures of habit, which can lead us down a path of no (“I don’t feel like it,” “I’m too tired,” “it’s raining outside”). Be willing to change your routine daily, even if it’s a new food or a new route to the store. It will energize and reinvigorate you.
  • Take a walk or a hike and combine a few of the techniques above. When we move our bodies, we reduce our levels of Cortisol, the hormone that’s released when we’re stressed. That’s why exercise has a calming effect. Take a walk or even better, a hike. Do a little healthy yes multitasking by using one or two of the tips while you’re in motion; say your mantra while you listen to beautiful music on your iPod. Why not throw in a smile too? You’ll be immersing yourself in yes.

Now you’ve got your new “GPS” system to navigate your life!

Gary Quinn will be a keynote speaker (“10 Steps to Change Your Life”) from 1-3 p.m. Sunday, April 27, at Fargo Holistic Expo, and a two-day Post-Expo Workshop (“The Power of Yes: Learning to create Infinite Potential & Master Life’s Energies”) on April 28-29. Purchase advance tickets at or at toll-free 877.776.5244. For more details on the event, visit

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