Monday, October 25, 2010
Before You Commit To One More Thing...
Warning: This post contains the word ‘hell’ several times. While this could be considered a word worthy of “sharpie-ing” to some, (see post titled Nine Stories) it is one of my favorite words in English for the reasons described below. If you happen to be offended by the word ‘hell’ then stop reading now, because I will just end up offending you, and then you’ll call me (heaven forbid), and write me letters about how offended you are and how I may be a bad influence, at which point I’d probably just laugh at you, which would, in turn, drive you mad. And you would be so red with rage that you’d try to strangle me with your little man hands…which would never fit around my neck, and then I’d simply kick you and run away…so, if you don’t like the word ‘hell’ then do yourself a favor and bow out now. No one will ever know.
So, those of you that know me well, know that I live my life by a couple of guiding principles, one of which I call the “Hell Yes! Hell No!” principle. The basis of this idea comes from a little gem of a book called Hell Yes! by Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin. I came across this book one day and was blown away by it’s utter simplicity. Without printing the entire work here, which violates more copyright laws than I can count, the gist of it is this:
Before you commit to one more thing, ask yourself, is it a ‘hell yes!?’ or a ‘hell no!?’.
Let me explain: ‘Phoebe’ (names have been changed to protect the not so innocent) calls me one day and asks if I can bring in a meal for a mutual acquaintance. Before I automatically say, “Yes.” I ask myself, “Do I really like cooking for people?” For me, the answer is an unequivocal ‘HELL NO‘. I’d personally endure hot pokers in my eyes before I would enjoy making a meal for someone other than my family, and if by chance you are that rare friend that I have cooked for, you know that I only make one meal, and when you get tired of red beans and rice, just let me know. I won‘t judge you. Anyway, I do like to clean--(strange, but true) so I say, “You know, Phoebe, I’m unavailable to make a meal, but I’d love to come help so-and-so clean their house if they need it.” At this point, this only works if I really can help them in another way. And if not, that’s ok. Because it’s ok to say ‘No’.
Now, you see how easy that was. Phoebe felt all good inside because I didn’t scream, “HELL NO!” and hang up the phone, I didn’t have to cook for strangers, and I was able to stay on my true path which is marked by things that light up for me.
What did I say?
Yeah. You read it right. I said, I was able to stay on my true path which is marked by things that light up for me. These things make me feel happy, excited, and energized. In other words like saying, “Hell YES!”
Each of us is on a path in our lives and we are here to find, and fulfill, and do the things we need to in order to be happy. We’ve all been blessed with interests that light up our true paths. When asked to do something that doesn’t light up your path, and you decline, no worries! That person will simply move to the next name on their list and for that person, that task may be just the thing that makes them feel happy, excited and energized. As Elizabeth Baskins says, “Sometimes you might feel pressure to take on a ’hell no!’ because you feel bad saying no. You worry about disappointing the person who asked. But isn’t it a little egotistical to think that you might be the only one who could fill the bill?” By saying ‘yes‘, when we really mean ‘no’, just means that we are depriving someone else of something that may light up their true path for them.
You may be asking yourself: “Don’t you feel guilty for saying ‘no‘?” And I’ll tell you, at first I did. But then, I realized that when I was saying yes to things that I didn’t want to do, they felt like a burden and I did them grudgingly. And I asked myself, who wants a gift that was given grudgingly?
You also may be asking yourself, “What if I’m not sure if it’s a ‘Hell Yes!’ or a ‘Hell No!” ? Well, let me ask you, if it’s not a ‘Hell YES!’, then what else could it be?
So now, after lots of practice saying, “Hell NO!” and “Hell YES!” (but with other words, mind you) I find that it is the easiest thing in the world. I have big, gaping holes in my schedule to be filled with things that really do light up my true path, like working in my chosen profession, cleaning the widow’s house next door, volunteering in my kids’ schools, stripping wall paper in a friend’s bathroom, and reading a good book. Because I’m not over extended and stressed out all the time doing things I don’t really want to do, I’m happier, more excited and energized.
And to that I say, “HELL YES!!!”