The Union Path Podcast
"Choosing a Life of Yes"
Full Episode Transcript:
I find it really interesting. I find it fascinating, actually, just how much control, just how much of a say, just how much influence we have over our own moods, over how we feel basically generally most of the time, and how we're the ones, through our choices, of what we focus on, what we think about, what we value, what we prioritize, really has a dramatic effect over how we feel, over how we feel in our life, of what our life feels like to us.
One of the interesting things that I think we can do. One of the interesting shifts that I think we can make is actually pretty simple but can be very profound, because it really gets to the fundamental. It really gets to kind of our own base, our own basis of how we view the world, how we perceive the world, what meaning we attach to what we observe, to what happens to us, to what we think about. And that's the idea of shifting the focus of our life from no to yes. Again, this sounds like a very simple idea, but often it's the simple ideas that are the most impactful.
If something is overly complicated, if it takes us a really long time to understand it, or it takes us a really long time and is really difficult to explain, a lot of times those things don't end up really being all that helpful because they're not really that accessible. They're kind of fussy ideas to work with, they require some trimming and they don't really fit easily. We kind of have to bend and shape ourselves around them rather than these ideas being of service to us. And what I mean by this shift of focus from no to yes is the focus in our life of what are we actually looking for, what are we actually paying attention to? What's our focus? Is it on things we want? Or is it on things we?
don't want. Overall, when we're aware of ourselves and we're really paying attention to how we are, to how we feel, to what we think about, to what we think about all the various aspects of our lives overall, are we positive or are we negative? Are we positive in trying to include things in our life that we actually want, that we actually value, or are we negative and we're trying to avoid or negate the things in our life that we don't? Because, depending on which side of the spectrum, which side of the coin we tend to live on more frequently, that will actually dictate our mood and, the very least, that will dictate our ground state of what we create our moods from, or what we create our life from. That will be the orientation that we set for ourselves and thus we set for our lives. Are we focused on the positive or are we focused on the negative? And of course, we acknowledge that both exist, known as either one or the other, because if we're too far out in either extreme, that's probably delusional, that's probably not living in reality, that's probably thinking and acting under the influence of ideas that aren't actually fully and completely true. And the beauty is we get to choose. We get to choose which we orient to. We get to choose if we believe that things are generally good or generally bad, but this can be challenging. This can be tricky, because all sorts of influences in our world are aligned to the negative, our line to the negative, because, frankly, the negative affects us more easily.
As human beings, fear, worry, doubt are very powerful and very motivating. It works From a more cynical or even sinister perspective. We can use the negative to control other people and we can see this in the systems of control that we erect and foist upon each other in schools, in work, in organizations, in culture, in society. It's easy to go negative. It's easy to use fear, it's easy to introduce doubt, it's easy to attempt to activate shame or feeling bad, despite all of these pressures, to be scared of this and worried about that, concerned about some other thing.
We get to choose our own focus. We get to choose what we spend our time thinking about and focusing on, and we can make a profound shift in our life. We can make a profound shift in our mood by shifting our focus to the positive. That's a very simple exercise to just do a short meditation practice, just do a short time of focus and focus on the idea of yes, just the idea itself, that idea of agreement, that idea of what we actually want, what we actually want more of what we actually want to experience that idea of yes, and just ponder it, sit with it, bring these feelings up, expand them, grow them and then see what sort of ideas these feelings bring along.
Because when we think about our life, how much time do we spend focusing on the yes, that what we actually want, to what the larger part of ourselves wants to say yes to Versus? How much time do we spend thinking about what we're saying no to, what we want less of, what we want to avoid, what we want to eliminate? And, of course, there's usefulness on both sides. Of course there are things in all of our lives that we'd rather not be living. There's always room for improvement. There's always things that we would like to improve, we would like to change. That's the beauty of life, that's what keeps us going. There's always more to do. No matter what we accomplish or what we do in our life, it'll always be an unfinished job. There'll always be more and that's what pulls us through life. That is what encourages and propels our progress, that's our fuel, that's what keeps us going? There's always more. There's always more to experience, there's always more to know. There's always more to live.
There's always more life in front of us than what we're currently experiencing. And if we find ourselves where our average mood just really isn't all that good, where most days we just don't really feel that good, we're not really very positive, we're not really very hopeful, maybe we've lost a bit of meaning. We don't really know what all this is for, we don't really know why we're here. We don't know why we keep doing what we keep doing. We just witness ourselves doing it over and over and over again, like we're a robot just running out of program. Or if we find ourselves confused that we've forgotten what we want, maybe we've forgotten who we are, we've forgotten what we value, we've forgotten what's really important to us because we've gotten so caught up in our own doing and our own attempts to achieve and our own attempts to get things done, overly caught up in the stresses and the pressures of life, that we've squeezed out what we want, then these times our lives can feel like a burden, lives can feel like too much. And if we could just lighten the load, if we could just do a little bit less, if we could just make these things go away, it'd be so much better. But I'd make the argument anyway that, even though there are absolutely things in our life that we should put down, that we should jettison, that we should move away from that overall, that, basically speaking, we affect our lives more and in a better way by choosing the positive than choosing the negative, by choosing to attempt to include and pursue and endeavor after what we really want than the pursuit of trying to eliminate what we don't. Because that elimination, that casting off, that letting go, naturally happens with the inclusion of what we want, because there's only so much room in our life, there's only so many hours on the day, there's only so much we can focus on. And by including more of the positive, more of what we want in our life, there's a natural displacement that happens, that naturally crowds out what we don't want. But more than that, especially when we look at our life over the long term, we look at our moods, we look at how we actually feel in our life over a long period of time, a lot of that feeling is predicated and sustained by our own perspective, by our own ideas, by our own beliefs. And again, especially in our world, it's very easy to believe and focus on the negative and let the negative completely crowd out and displace the positive and if we observe this in our life, this is a balance that we can write.
And again, we choose. We choose what we focus on, we choose what we value, we choose what we believe. Even if it doesn't feel that way, even if it feels like our values and our beliefs and our focus is foisted upon us, it's really not. We choose to believe what we believe, we choose to focus on what we focus on. And we can choose to change the overall tenor of our life by choosing the positive, choosing the yes over the no, biasing ourselves towards the positive rather than the negative. Because even if we cast aside spiritual ideas or psychology or anything else and we just kind of get down to how we actually feel it's been my experience I believe it's absolutely fundamentally true that we can make ourselves feel better simply by focusing on the positive, simply by spending time with it, simply by choosing to include the positive in our life.
Even if we look at our life and it seems like everything is going wrong, just spending 20 or 30 minutes thinking about what would going right look like, what would yeses in my life look like, even if I don't get to say no to anything, even if I bring everything forward that currently exists. If I can include more yeses in my life, what would that be like? What would that feel like and I've found anyway it's pretty good. It's a natural mood elevator. In an oversimplified way, probably it's kind of a natural antidepressant that I come to realize that how I feel, my moods are really dictated by what I spend my time thinking about the most, what I focus on. And if I'm not choosing my focus, that's a missed opportunity. That's a missed opportunity of being able to apply intention that directly affects how I actually feel. That actually has an immediate and palpable and obvious result. That when I spend time thinking about what I want to say yes to in my life, I just feel better. And I really help myself feel better by not attaching anything else to it, by not thinking that all of a sudden, these are like incantations, that because I've spent time thinking about it, oh, these things are absolutely positively going to happen.
I don't give this practice a job, I don't make it load, bearing in what happens to me. I do it just because it feels good, just because it's enough. But more than that, it re-orients me to a completely different energy. Because thinking that these practices are going to immediately affect our outside world, I think it's kind of a misunderstanding of where our outside world actually comes from, what creates and generates and sustains it. And I'd make the argument this is more about our natural state, more about our moods, more about how we think and feel.
Most of the time that our lives are a reflection of how we feel on the inside and when we feel a certain way. Most of the time, most of our life tends to reflect that. But again, if we cast aside all of that and we just kind of break this down from the perspective of how it really affects us in a practical way, by shifting our focus to the positive, that shifts our perspective to the positive. It changes our outlook, it changes what we look for. There's almost a biasing effect that this has.
I think we've all had the experience of where, if we're thinking about going on a trip or we're thinking about moving, and maybe we want to go on a trip and move to Florida, and then we're driving around and it seems like every other license plate is from Florida, it's like wow, that's amazing and there might be spiritual and energy answers for this. But it also might be that we're aware of these Florida license plates because our focus is on Florida, that there's so much happening in our world that we can't possibly be aware of everything in our external world all the time. In fact, what we're actually aware of is a small fraction, because not only can we not really even process what our senses are telling us, usually most of us are so in our heads, so thinking about something else, that we don't even notice what sensory input comes in. Anyway, for the most part we're too wrapped up in our own thinking, we're too wrapped up in whatever we're focused on in the moment, and when our focus matches what our senses tell us, then it's almost like a light goes off. We have a match and our brains are brilliant pattern-finding, match-making machines. And through this acknowledgement, this is encouragement, this is sustaining to what we were thinking about. So if we acknowledge this is true, if we acknowledge that what we think about directly affects our experience because it changes what we're actually aware of, then we can take that one step forward that if we orient ourselves around the positive, then we're more likely to notice the positive. If we're more likely to notice the positive, we're more likely to experience the positive and if the positive makes us feel good and we experience that more of the time. Well, now we have a life that feels good. This is probably oversimplifying it, but I don't think it's really that much more complicated than that. Life is how we feel, because I've definitely had the objection of where I've spent time daydreaming, imagining, and it felt really good, I felt better.
But then afterwards this commentary came in, this critic came in and said oh, maybe that felt good, but none of that was real, none of that's actually happening. So that doesn't have any worth. That's fake, that's false. Well, is it? For example, let's say we have $10 in the bank and we're really bummed out because we have $10 in the bank. We think to ourselves man, if only, if only I had $1,000 in the bank, everything would be different. That would be awesome. That's probably true. Being broke sucks.
But what's the difference, from an experiential perspective, of spending time daydreaming, envisioning, imagining that $1,000 than actually having it? From a feeling perspective? Because our experience of life is feeling, the reason why we do anything is because we want to feel a certain way. I think this is undeniable, even if we're doing things for the most logical or academic or theoretical reasons, those ideas, that logic makes us feel a certain way, that we might think it's all thinking. But our life is the feeling. Our life experience, how we think about it is feeling. Our life either feels good or it feels bad and it's somewhere on the spectrum between those two things. There's no third choice and we could say that our life actually feels neutral. Well, that's still on that spectrum. It's just equally balanced so that there's no real preference, no real tip towards either side. But it's still on the same binary scale.
Because of course we want to actually have that $1,000. We want to actually experience that we don't have daydreams to never actually live them. In fact, our dreams get far more powerful, far more impactful, far more real when we actually have hope, when we actually believe that at least it's possible. But the more belief increases, the more assured we are that we're on the right track, that we're going to achieve and live that feeling eventually more powerful it gets, and that there's not a lot of credit, there's very short shrift for doing things in our life merely because they feel good, merely because they're enriching, merely because they're nourishing. There's so much emphasis put on productivity and achievement, something to show, something material, something physical, some response or acknowledgement from someone else over what we do.
Yet our life is lived and experienced through our own personal feeling. Our life is how it feels to us to live it by intentionally engaging in practices that make us feel better, we live a life that feels better. We live a life that includes more of the feelings that we want, because we actually spend time cultivating and nurturing and growing these feelings. And it has a persistent effect, too, that if we spend time trying to feel good one day, odds are we'll still feel pretty good the next day.
A lot of our life is based on momentum. It's based on the energy and the direction that we're going, and we get to choose the direction we go and we get to choose the energy we acclimate to. We get to choose the energy we focus on. We get to choose the energy we grow. Because when we think about the positive and the negative, one versus the other, the yes versus the no, and really get in touch with how that feels, how does it feel to say yes versus how does it feel to say no? Of course that no can be liberating, that no can be a boundary that we need to set, that, no, can be a vital change in our life. But overall, when we think about inclusion versus exclusion, which one feels better? More importantly, which one feels like us, really feels like who and what we really are, really feels like the full version of ourselves, that at our core, at our insights who and?
what we really are? Are we more a yes or are we more a no? That when we're feeling our best, we're feeling like the most full version and expression of ourselves. Does that feel positive or does that feel negative? I would guess I would assume the answer is the yes. The answer is the positive.
Well, why not start practicing and living that now? Why not choose to orient towards that now? Why not choose to be the full and complete version and expression of yourself now? What are we waiting for? Why not try? Why not spend time reorienting ourselves around doing things that actually feel good, that actually are things we want? Why not spend time trying to include things in our life rather than trying to exclude things we don't?
Because it's been my experience anyway that every time I do this sort of practice, every time I spend time, it's focusing on yes, focusing on all the things that would be a yes in my life. Focusing on all the things that are a yes in my life, I feel better, I feel more positive, I feel more hopeful, but more than that, it really seems to expand my creativity that I start looking for more things that would be a yes. I more easily say yes to what I want? Because for the longest time, my default answer to almost anything was no, that it was so quick to find fault. I was so quick to find the problems, I was so quick to be critical, I was so quick to find the wrong in whatever I was thinking, and in so many ways this made my life smaller, in so many ways prevented me from doing things, because, of course, nothing is perfect. Everything has a downside, everything has a negative. But we get to choose what we orient to and what we value. And we can choose the positive, knowing that negative is going to come along too. It's inescapable. But the positive is worth it.
We'd rather experience what we want, downsides included, than to not. We'd rather live and grow and expand and experience and be stagnant. We'd rather move forward than just being stuck in the same place over and over and over again. We'd rather live and spend time trying to live than to spend time trying to avoid living. We'd choose what we pursue. We'd choose if we pursued the light or the dark, the positive or the negative.
There's ramifications to this choice. We can feel it. We can feel when we're living a positive life versus a negative one. It's undeniable. And sometimes when we're living a negative life, it's because we've chosen to orient to the negative. Maybe we've been disappointed, maybe we've failed, maybe we've been hurt and it seems like the ideal life path is just to avoid feeling that ever again. But in that choice to avoid, we also eliminate the opportunity for what we truly want. We eliminate the opportunity for yes, for what we actually want to live. We don't actually want to live a life of avoidance. We want to live a life of inclusion. We want to live a life of fullness. We want to live a full life by being fully alive. And in this pursuit we may learn other lessons as well.
One of the lessons that I've learned is that comfort and safety, especially over the long term, are overrated. It's not that they don't matter, it's not that they're not important they are. No one wants to live an uncomfortable life and no one would be advised to live a dangerous life. But it's very easy to overvalue these two aspects. It's very easy to think that the ideal life is maximum comfort and maximum safety, but it's been my experience anyway. It's my belief that what we want more, even more and guaranteed comfort and guaranteed safety we want to feel alive. We want to be alive in our own life. We want our life to have as much life and living to it as possible. Of course, we don't want to be beaten around by it. We don't want to just be battered and bruised. We want to live, we want to feel alive, we want to feel fully alive and to me, that's the energy, that's the essence of the positive Life is positive Life is growth and change. Life is additive, and we live a completely different life when we focus on the additive than when we're overly focussed on the subtractive. We live a completely different life when we're trying to include than when we're trying to exclude, and we live a completely different life when we're mostly trying to include than when we're mostly trying to exclude.
So if any of this resonates with you, if you're curious, try Spend some time. What would a life of yes be like for me? Let me really get inside this word. Get inside what yes really means, what yes really feels like, what does a small yes feel like? What does a big yes feel like? Stoke and cultivate these feelings and then see what ideas and images come up, see what inspiration comes up. Shift the focus, shift the raw material that you're feeding your own creative faculty. Then, instead of coming up with ideas for the negative, for how to avoid, have your own creative faculty come up with ideas of how to include, how to grow, how to nourish, how to change.
And again, I like to do this for no other reason than it feels good and I know there are a bunch of really lovely side effects as well that not only feels good, it actually changes the tenor of my entire day. Things just seem to go better. My life is better when I'm hopeful. My life is better when I'm positive. That's undeniable. My life is better when I focus on the yes than when I focus on the no. And again, I think it's important to underscore this no is very valuable. No can be one of the most powerful and impactful words and actions that we have.
Sometimes the ideal thing for us to do is to say no. Sometimes the best thing we can do is stop. But as an overall tenor to our life, as an overall focus, as an overall direction, I'd advocate anyway that it's better to orient around yes, to orient around inclusion, to orient around the positive, and we can choose to do this whenever we wish. We get to choose our focus. And because we get to choose our focus. We get to choose our perspective. We get to choose our perspective. Because we get to choose our perspective, we get to choose our beliefs and because we have so much choice, especially over the long term, we get to choose how we feel On average most of the time, overall, what our moods are like. We have far more influence than we think we do and we can choose to orient ourselves. We can choose our own direction towards yes whenever we wish. We can choose to focus a little less on the nose in our life and choose to instead think about, to ponder, to entertain what would the yeses be, and then go forward with that awareness, go forward with that perspective, go forward living and experiencing a positive life. Because we orient around, we organize around the positive, the yes first.