Book Club Review: Year of Yes

Book Review: Year of Yes“Losing yourself does not happen all at once.”

A solid strategy to get yourself out of a funk and feeling fearless: say YES.

Yes to all of the opportunities that show up in front of you, even and especially if you’d normally say no.

I put a yes mantra into place right after my rock bottom, and ended up trying out a lot of new things, from solo travel to playing a musical instrument, over that first year.

Obviously, the very nature of this exercise is discomfort. But each time we step outside our warm, cozy comfort zones, we are rewarded.

After pushing and persisting through the awkwardness, we walk away with a wonderful combination of humility and confidence.

Even if we fall flat on our faces, like I do with the guitar (seriously, it’s not music yet), we catch a glimpse of that inner child who relishes in trying just for the sake of it.

And then we take bigger and bigger risks. And our comfort zone continues to expand. And we stop judging ourselves or others so harshly and open up to new possibilities.

This is the road to fearlessness, and a cornerstone of resiliency.

As I looked toward the new year and considered what book to select for January’s book club, Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes leapt off the search results page.

I hesitated.

I wondered…Shonda is wildly successful and writes dramatic television shows. Would we actually be able to relate to her life experiences in a real way?

I went with my gut and took the risk.

I downloaded the book onto my kindle on my flight to Thailand and shocked myself when I read it cover to cover on January 1st in Chiang Mai.

Not only did I relate to Shonda’s experience, that fact that I had questioned this was a core ah-ha moment.

When I automatically made Shonda different from myself, I took myself off the hook of living up to that level of accomplishment.

It was a giant excuse.

We all get to choose how we lead our lives. Do we pursue our dreams until we reign supreme like Shonda? Do we embrace simplicity? Are we just floating along?

I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, powerful, engaged people? Are busy doing.

The dreamers. They stare at the sky and they make plans and they hope and they think and they talk about it endlessly. And they start a lot of sentences with ‘I want to be…’ or ‘I wish…’

Since I began my comeback, many of my friends, and even perfect strangers, will comment on how exciting or incredible my life is, and will often share some of their dreams, like starting their own business, climbing in the Andes, or living aboard a sailboat for a year.

It doesn’t matter what the dream is, it is almost invariably followed by an excuse.

I don’t have enough time. I need to save up more money first. It’s unrealistic.

And, yet.

There are countless examples all around us of people who don’t start out with a million bucks or some special superhuman gene.

It simply requires knowing yourself and what you want from your life, and then choosing it. And I’ve personally learned more about what I want and what I’m made of every time I’ve said YES! to the strange and wonderful opportunities and people that show up.

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