Editor's note: Saying "Yes" may seem like pure optimism to us, but it is so much more: an adventure, a vow, an instinctive response, an entrance to joy, even a secret for coping with fear. Listen to all the possibilities in this word which is also a practice, as shared in the writings of an array of authors.


Acceptance of What Is
"Saying yes to some part of life-to a condition or situation, to a relationship, to your history or personality, or to something happening inside your own mind — does not necessarily mean that you like it. You can say yes to pain, to sorrow, to the things that aren't going well for you or others.

"Your yes means that you accept the facts as they are, that you are not resisting them emotionally even if you are trying with all your might to change them. This will usually bring some peace — and will help any actions you take be more effective."
— Rick Hanson in Just One Thing

An Adventure into Your Own Deepest Self
"Life Visioning is an adventure into your own deepest self to discover there all the gifts, talents, skills, and requisite qualities of consciousness to live a most excellent life, a life of YES."
— Michael Bernard Beckwith in Life Visioning

The Answer to Every "Why"
"To prevent questions from weighing us down, we must raise them. The longer we wait, the heavier they get, like a thatched roof in the rain. People who are afraid of raising questions run the risk of getting crushed under them. When we raise a question all the way, we find that the answer to every 'Why?' is 'Yes!' This sets us free."
— David Steindl-Rast in Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer

Choosing Gratitude
"In gratitude we say yes to life. We affirm that all things taken together, life is good and has elements that make it worth living. The acknowledgement that we have received something that gratifies us, either by its presence or by the effort the giver went into choosing it."
— Robert A. Emmons in Thanks!

Continuous Providence
"There is no time, no place, no situation in which God is not loving you. There is no way God is not loving you. We have to be the continual 'yes' for the love to come through. And then our lives become no more coincidence, but continuous providence!"
— Richard Rohr in Radical Grace

A Cultivation of Optimism
"Just say Yes.
Become a 'can-do' person.
Look for the positive spin, for what is right.
Agree with those around you.
Cultivate yes phrases: 'You bet'; 'You are right'; 'I'm with you'; 'good idea'; etc.
Substitute 'Yes and' for 'yes but.' Add something to build conversation.
Exercise the yes muscle. This builds optimism and hope."
— Patricia Ryan Madson in Improv Wisdom

A Delight to God
God offers unconditional love and forgiveness to all, even the people we disapprove of. The only thing he asks in exchange is that we accept these gifts of grace and, by our acceptance, allow him to transform our lives. We can, of course, refuse the gift; God is an insistent lover, but he has excellent manners and doesn't force on us what we don't want to accept. He delights in our yes, but he will respect our no.
— Molly Wolf in White China

An Entrance to Joy
Our own beliefs, fears, and habitual reactions to life limit our joy much more than any spouse, boss, or devastating life experience. I started teaching my clients to carry two questions with them in their daily lives: 'Am I feeling joy now? If not, how am I holding my joy away?' I walked into each therapy session and workshop with the goal of helping people reconnect with the essential joy in their core. Over time, my three-step approach evolved: 1. Say yes to what is.
2. Witness your thoughts, feelings, and reactions.
3. Respond differently, with kindness and compassion.
By seeing our old habits clearly and by taking full responsibility for how we respond, we become able to hold all of life's gifts in joy.
— Carolyn Hobbs in Joy, No Matter What

A Factor in Enlightenment
"Enlightenment means choosing to dwell in the state of presence rather than time. It means saying yes to what is."
— Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now

An Instinctive Response
"Science and politics alone will not save the monarchs [butterflies], any more than they will save other threatened species and habitats, any more than they will save the monarch meadows and milkweed stands along my [walking] path. What is required is something that we have mostly lost in the high-tech, high-velocity, virtual world of the developed countries: a deeply felt, unintellectualized, instinctive 'yes' — a sense that behind the gaudy delight of 20 million butterflies hanging on fir trees, there is a natural and infinite power that binds all life in a holy web."
— Chet Raymo in The Path

Living from the Heart
"May I say yes to everything,
Going to the roots of fear.

"May I be aware without ceasing,
Letting life just be.

"May I see the face of God in everyone and everything,
Living from the heart of Being Kindness."
— A Buddhist vow in Ezra Bayda's Zen Heart

More than Mere Pleasing
A "no" uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a "yes" merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.
— Mahatma Gandhi in Marriage from the Heart by Lois Kellerman, Nelly Bly

Profound Nourishment
"Aligning with your 'yes!' is about feeling nourished on every level — feeling deeply alive. I'm not talking about the shallow, quick-fix kinds of comfort that make us feel good only temporarily. The kind of feeling good that I'm talking about, which comes from aligning with your 'yes!,' is about listening for the deeper truth underneath all of that. Deep alignment evokes the sense of thriving, coming alive, feeling juiced. It's that knowledge that 'I'm in the right place, at the right time, doing what I'm here to do.' You feel grounded and at home in yourself. Your life becomes rooted in a deep 'yes!' You feel alive and grateful to be in direct contact with life. "
— Deborah Zucker in The Vitality Map

A Secret for Coping with Fear
"Everyone feels fear. But giving in to fear is what makes our lives narrow and dark. Fear-based action is the source of all conflict; fearful response, the root of all sorrow. Fear is what prevents intimacy and undermines love. But we're often not aware of how fear drives so much of what we do. There is often fear behind what we call kindness, fear in ambition, in depression, and always fear in anger.
Every time we give in to fear we lose our life. In fear we imagine a terrible future, and in this imagining we create a terrible present. We bring upon ourselves the very misery that we are desperately trying to push away. The secret to living with fearful feelings is saying yes to the objects of fear — not being swallowed up by them, but welcoming them as invitations to move toward freedom."
— Ezra Bayda in Saying Yes to Life

A Source of Peace
"Saying yes to what feeds you emotionally and spiritually is essential for inner peace and well-being. Saying no to what drains your energy or pulls you off center is requisite for inner balance. Make your 'yes' and 'no' lists. Post them where you can see them easily — by the phone, perhaps — and update them frequently. They'll serve as an instant reminder whenever you're tempted to stray from your commitment to serenity."
— Joan Duncan Oliver in Happiness

A Response to Recognition
"One day you will recognize yourself coming down the road to meet yourself. And you will say — YES."
— Marion Woodman in Frederic Brussat's Twitter Collection