Embracing the Month of YESvember

Ready to end the year on high note? Why not change NOvember into YESvember, and see what happens.

Why say “yes”?

Saying yes isn’t easy. When you’re comfortable where you are, why rock the boat? 

When I look back on my life so far, some of my most rewarding and enjoyable experiences have come from saying “yes,” even when it scared the you-know-what out of me. I moved across the country without a job, I joined an indie rock band at age 36, and I started Compassion It, all thanks to my willingness to get out of my comfort zone.

Take a moment to consider some of your greatest accomplishments and best experiences. How many of them came from you saying “yes” instead of sticking with the status quo?

But saying “no” seems easier…

You might find it challenging to say “yes.” Luckily, it is a skill you can hone. 

In fact, in improv comedy, one of the “rules” is “Yes, and …” In other words, you agree to go along with whatever your fellow actors have started on stage, and then you add to it.

For example, if another actor starts pretending to swing an ax on stage and says he’s trying to chop down all of the piano trees, you wouldn’t say, “Ummm…there is no such thing as a piano tree, dude.” Instead, you would follow his lead and maybe act like you’re Frederic Chopin and really excited about the piano tree harvest season, or you might be a piano tree activist and start hugging the tree.

Wondering how to get started? Here are a few ways you can say YES this month:

1 – Say YES to adventure

Is there a place you’ve always wanted to visit? Why not seek out cheap flights, book the dreamy campsite, or ask a friend to join you for a road trip? Just say “yes!”

Adventure doesn’t have to be expensive or exotic. You can check out a restaurant that serves food you’ve never tried, you can see live music in a new neighborhood, or you can take a walk or hike somewhere you’ve never been before.

2 – Say YES to open-heartedness

This is a tough one, because saying “yes” to love means being willing to experience heartache, and who on Earth wants that?

Because I make it a practice to live with vulnerability and an open heart, I often end up with a broken heart. I’m becoming quite a pro, in fact!

There’s no need to feel badly for me, though. My many years of heartache have helped me realize something: eventually I am grateful for the relationship that led to my broken heart. Each time my heart breaks, I feel it getting stronger and able to love even more fiercely. 

In order to live with an open heart, you’re saying “yes” to being vulnerable with others. You’re chipping away at your heart’s armor, and, man, that does not feel good. You wear that armor for a reason, right? It has protected you from pain and suffering in the past, but does it serve you now? That armor might be keeping you from living a wholehearted and truly fulfilling life. 

A word to the wise…be sure to ease gently into open-heartedness. It might not be skillful for you to go from protection mode to an entirely open heart. Try opening your heart just a crack here and just a crack there, and notice what happens. Eventually that crack can widen, and your heart’s light will shine.

(Want to learn how to live a life with more vulnerability? I highly recommend Brene Brown’s books and her well-known TED talk.) 

3 – Say YES to compassion

Compassion is a response to suffering, regardless of whether it’s your own suffering or someone else’s suffering. Even though we are born with compassion, which is a desire to alleviate suffering, it’s still not an easy practice.

It makes sense that you might be stiff-arming compassion. When you’re saying “yes” to compassion, you’re also saying “yes” to suffering. You’re willing to be with suffering instead of running away from it, pretending it’s not there, or getting overwhelmed by it.

Trust me, though, cultivating compassion for yourself and others is a worthy endeavor. When you seek out ways to “compassion it” in your daily life, you’ll notice that you feel more joyful, you’re a better leader, your relationships become stronger, and you feel more connected to those around you.

If you want to make compassion a priority, consider becoming a Compassion It Advocate.

4 – Say YES to gratitude

Have you ever noticed your brain’s natural tendency to dwell on negative moments? One of my favorite teachers and authors, Rick Hanson, PhD, says that our brains are like velcro for negativity and teflon for positivity. A gratitude practice can counteract your brain’s negativity bias.

As a nod to Thanksgiving, why not dish up gratitude during the entire month of November (I mean YESvember)? Research indicates that gratitude supports your mental well-being and physical health. 

You can weave in moments of gratitude throughout your day. Before you dig into your meals, try offering gratitude to everyone who contributed to the food on your plate: farmers, truck drivers, grocery store clerks, and whomever prepared the food.

If you haven’t tried a gratitude journal, why not give it a go? At the end of each day, reflect on your day and write down five specific moments for which you are grateful. If you commit to a gratitude practice for a month, you might notice a shift in your disposition and outlook on life. 

So, let’s get started with this month of saying “yes.” Let us know what happens this month and if we can support you somehow.

About Compassion It

Compassion It is a nonprofit whose mission is to spread compassion and inspire compassionate actions through workplace training, personal development training, tools, and content. We envision a world where compassion is practiced by every person, for every person, on every day.

Learn how to “Compassion It” and build a more compassionate world. Share our mission and become a Compassion It Advocate.

Also, did you know we offer compassion training for your workplace? Learn how our training can reduce burnout, help your organization’s bottom line, and foster a more compassionate workplace.

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