I had one of the best nights of the year recently. And it was one that I was almost going to say no to.
It was a Friday and I had been invited to several different drinks after work (I’m not always this popular FYI). Though I was looking forward to seeing everyone, I was not looking forward to spending my night travelling across London to get to them all.
It was the final invitation that I was almost tempted to cancel on (after an evening of wine, the lure of food and my bed was a strong one) but I felt too bad to bail at such short notice. And I’m so pleased I didn’t because it ended up being one of the most memorable nights this year. Even the Uber back cost practically nothing thanks to some unknown credit I had.
I then told myself that this was a sign that I needed to say yes to things more. It is such a simple concept and isn’t a new one (I’m sure most of you will have heard of either the book/film Yes Man and of course YOLO is the mantra for Millenials) but it can be so rewarding. In fact one of the best years of my life was when I made the New Year’s Resolution to say yes more as a way to grow my confidence. I ended up seeing new places, pushing myself out of my comfort zone and making some hilarious memories. Because this is what it is all really about – experiences.
Recently there was a published report by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, that suggested that experiences are the key to happiness. Instead of finding happiness in material goods (as adverts would have you believe), the report claimed that experiences help to enrich you, help to shape and form your identity and help connect you to others in a substantial way. Even negative experiences can be enriching, for these become funny stories, or learning opportunities, or a way to bond with others. Gilovich sums up that “our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods. We are the sum total of our experiences”.
By saying yes more, we open ourselves up to these experiences and ultimately feel more fulfilled. Certainly, I will remember that Friday night so much more than my latest ASOS haul. I strengthened an old friendship, I explored new areas and I have stories to tell, not just a new dress.
Yet saying this, it sometimes isn’t as easy as it sounds. Commitments and money can be obstacles, not to mention burn out.
So it is not just about saying yes but saying yes to the right things. Balance is key. It took a few years for me to learn this but don’t feel the need to say yes to everything to please people. You’ll get tired out and resent it. Everyone has heard of FOMO (‘Fear of Missing Out’) but what about JOMO (‘Joy of Missing Out’)? Have there been nights where you’ve gone out so as not to miss out but really wish you were sitting watching telly in the warm with a cuppa?
Sometimes you need to say No just as much as Yes, to allow yourself the space to rest, concentrate and experience things without worrying about what you ‘should’ be doing or where you ‘should’ be going. It’s hard when social media is such a big part of our lives but having a periodical digital detox and being more mindful about who you surround yourself with can help massively.
So make sure you embrace experiences, say yes to the things that excite you and say yes to JOMO too. It’s been proven to make you happier and it’s cheaper than keeping up with the Jones’.
YOLO – you only live once, so make sure you do it right.