I was an 8th grader when I first encountered the power of "yes."
I walked into my leadership class and was caught off guard because Mrs. Lute had rearranged the room. Our desks, which were usually grouped together into pods, had been pushed into a circle around the perimeter of the room. The bell rang and Mrs. Lute looked directly at me, handed me a blindfold, and asked me to stand outside the room. A few minutes later she met me outside. She led me in, blindfolded, and once I was inside, assumedly in the middle of the circle of desks, she said, "Jason you're a pretty strong guy, huh?" *entire class snickers*
"Today we are going to test your strength." She had me hold my arms to my side and my only task was to try and lift them out to the side while she held them to my side. The weird part came when my entire class, which I could now tell was circled around me, was chanting "No! No! No! No!" I couldn't raise my arms.
She had me leave the room and come back in one minute later. This time the class was silent. I could raise my arms a few inches this time before having them pushed back down to my sides. I left and came back for a final time, this time hearing chants of "Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!" from my encircled classmates. I lifted my arms above my head with ease.
The entire class went silent, mouths agape. Unusual for a class of 30 8th graders. Mrs. Lute smiled and with a hint of seriousness addressed our class. "Life will be full of no's, of people trying to hold you down. Just remember, that "yes", that being positive, will always be more powerful."
The first time I went into the room, the class was chanting "no" and I couldn't lift my arms. The second time, I found out the class was silently thinking "yes" and I could lift my arms slightly. The final time, they chanted "yes" and it literally gave me strength. To this day I have no explanation for how this worked other than the power of "yes."
The activity itself was mystical in nature, but the principle is practical. Positive thinking creates positive change. The power of yes can create far-reaching and widespread change in our lives, but for some reason most of us choose no more often than we choose yes. Humans develop cynical thoughts as early as seven years old. We get comfortable with "no" early in our lives and often never stray far from it. There is power is yes and all it takes is a change is response. Sometimes saying yes may sound like "yes, and..." or "yes, as long as...", but yes allows for opportunity, for forward momentum, and for possibility.
Keep a tally of how many times you say "yes" and "no" in a day. You won't be graded for accuracy, so just try your best to get an idea of your innate reactions.
When is the last time you said "yes" to something that scared you? When will be the next?
"Cynics always say no. Saying yes leads to knowledge. So for as long as you have the strength to, say yes." - Stephen Colbert