Shout YES from the rooftops

 by Pamela Slim

When I was younger, I went crazy for Salsa. I don’t mean the kind involving chopped tomatoes and chili peppers, I mean the sexy, sweaty Latin dance variety.

Nothing, nothing, made me feel better than being whipped around the dance floor to the intoxicating rhythms of salsa music. While dancing, I felt like a combination of a Hollywood temptress, prom queen and Jennifer Beales in the finale of Flashdance.

My passion for salsa dancing was a little problematic since as an Anglo wannabe Latina, I didn’t have too many friends who shared my enthusiasm and were willing to go out dancing with me. Showing up as a single blond was not always recommended, as it was akin to putting a “cheap floozy looking for quick fling” sign on my chest. But my love for dancing overrode any fear of embarrassment.

Salsa dancing is one example of things in my life that make my essential self scream YES.

When I do it, I lose track of time, feel absolutely present in my body and have an involuntary silly grin plastered on my face.

Finding the things that delight and enthrall you is a critical step towards finding a life that not only fits you but thrills you. It helps you make complex decisions like whom to marry, where to go to college and whether or not to quit your job to start a business. It also works for simple things like which restaurant to go for dinner on Saturday night or which color to paint your toenails.

In my last post, I led you through an exercise about identifying your inner NO from Martha’s book Finding Your Own North Star that was sure to leave you drained and unenergized. I made you imagine a scenario where you were being judged by people you didn’t respect on things that you hated to do. I swear, I was not trying to chase you into the arms of a therapist, I just really wanted you to experience what it felt like when your essential self screamed NO.

Today, thank god, we get to swing in the opposite direction, into the people, places and things that make your essential self shout YES from the rooftops.

EXERCISE

This slightly involved but very powerful exercise is lifted directly from Finding Your Own North Star, starting on page 38. There is a lot more detail in the book and some hilarious examples of each question, but this stripped down version should still give you enough information to be effective. Take out a pencil and paper, or click on this link to open a Word template: just-say-yes21 You are going to identify a number of ways in which your essential self says “yes.”

Exercise

1. Nuclear energy.

List three things that can always get you moving (Examples: “The family New Year’s party,” “Playing pickup basketball,” “Going to the mountains.”)

Energy-inducing person, place or thing #1: ________

Energy-inducer #2: ________

Energy-inducer #3: ________

Look over the list and circle the response that makes you feel most enthusiastic.

2. To Your Health.

Try to remember three times when your health seemed better than usual. What was going on in your life at that time?

Situation #1: ________

Situation #2: ________

Situation #3: ________

Circle the situation that has the most positive associations for you right now.

3. Memories, Light the Corners of My Mind ...

Where’s your supermemory? If you can’t think of anything, you’re probably overlooking the obvious. Ask some friends and loved ones what they ‘ve noticed about your ability to pick up certain categories of information. List these categories below.

Info-type #1: ________
Info-type #2: ________
Info-type #3: ________

Circle the type of information that
interests you most. Be honest; nothing you enjoy is stupid or trivial.

4. Time Warp.

Write down the types of activities that make you forget what time it is.

Activity #1: _______
Activity:#2 _______
Activity #3: _______

Circle the activity you find most absorbing.

5. Emotional Intelligence.

Name three people who make you feel socially adept and confident, people who seem to understand you and enjoy spending time with you.

Person #1: _______

Person #2: _______

Person #3: _______

Please circle the name of the person who makes you feel most comfortable and relaxed.

6. Magnetic Attraction.

List times when you felt strangely drawn to a person, place or thing. You may have temporarily become unable to concentrate on anything else. What was the object of your desire?

Urge to merge item #1: _______

Item #2: _______

Item #3: _______

Circle the thing that brings up the most positive feelings.

7. A Natural High.

List the last three times you experienced a wonderful mood, particularly if our good mood came at a strange time or from an action other people may have criticized.

Good-mood setting #1: _______

Good-mood setting #2: _______

Good-mood setting #3: _______

Circle the situation that makes you feel the happiest.

Summary

Step 1:

In the spaces below, list the answers you circled on the exercises.

List your:

A. Most high-energy activity: _______

B. Person who makes you feel most relaxed: _______

C. Best-health situation: _______

D. Information you remember most easily: _______

E. Activity most likely to make you forget the time: _______

F. Item that created the strongest Urge to Merge: _______

G. Best mood setting: _______

Step 2

Fill in the blanks with the appropriate response.

Your Own Best-Case Scenario

It is an incredibly beautiful day. The air is clear, the scenery dazzling, and you’re setting out to do (A: Your most high-energy activity)

_________________________

with (B: your favorite person)

_________________________

You’ve got no other responsibilities, no immediate deadlines, and no major problems weighing you down. You feel great, even better than you did back when you were (C: your best health situation)

_________________________

In fact, you are in the best physical shape of your life: strong, lean, robust and full of energy. You’re having a great conversation about (D: the information you remember most easily)

_________________________

When a message arrives for you. It’s a letter from the president, saying that you have been chosen to receive a lifetime of financial support for doing (E: the activity that makes you forget time)

_________________________

This will require you to spend a lot of time with (F: the person or situation that creates the Urge to Merge)

_________________________

You feel just the way you did when (G: your best-mood setting)
_________________________

happened, only more so. Lie back for a minute, take in the scenery, and enjoy knowing that this is basically how you’re going to spend the rest of your life.

Step 3
As you did with the “worst-case scenario,” read over your “best-case” story carefully. Picture the images as vividly as you can, and notice how you feel. There’s considerable evidence that just visualizing this scene greatly increases the likelihood that you’ll experience something like it at some point in the future. In fact, no matter how impossibly wonderful it may appear, the scenario above is only a pale shadow of the splendid realities you’ll find on the path to your own North Star.

What does it feel like to you, this sense of your essential self saying “Yes! Due north!“? How would you describe the sensation– or is it a sensation at all? Many people experience their true path not as something that happens to them but as the simultaneous loss of self and complete connection with the universe. When the essential self is really in its element, you may be so involved with the work at hand, the people around you, and the things you’re learning that you won’t be aware of yourself as separate from them. This state is the goal of many mystical practices, both in Western religious tradition and in the East. It’s been described by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as “flow,” by anthropologist Joseph Campbell as “following your bliss.” What do you call it?

Identifying your inner YES, along with last post’s inner NO, are critical steps in fine tuning your internal navigation system that will lead to better decisions and a more joyful life.

I ask you, maybe even beg, to take the time to complete the exercises. Please share what you learn here, as well as the questions that pop in your mind about what’s next.

In the meantime, pardon me as I take a spin around the dance floor.

(Update 10:24am PST: comments work now, please share your thoughts!)

6 replies
  1. Jennifer L.
    Jennifer L. says:

    I managed to complete this exercise slightly more successfully than I did in the Beck book. Questions like these, which ask me to isolate ‘favorites’ or ‘mosts’ tend to cause me to freeze. Also, my memory doesn’t seem to operate the way that is needed to answer questions like “three times that I’ve had magnetic attractions”. I’m not sure I’ve had even one, and if others occurred more than a day or so ago, I’m unlikely to remember them. A final challenge for me is itemizing my best health – I’m fortunate to have excellent health. My few minor health problems have been very short-term.

    As I said, I did manage to complete the exercise despite my handicaps. While the resulting story is pleasant, I cannot honestly say that I’m even close to having a sense of my essential self through the exercise.

    Hi Jennifer!

    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts after completing the exercise, both in Martha’s book and here. My worksheet is just a shortcut version of what is in the book.

    Since I don’t know you at all or how you like to learn or process information, I can only make a few guesses:

    -it may be easier for you to talk through this exercise with someone who can ask clarifying questions, instead of trying to do it yourself. Do you have any friends to help you do this, or a coach handy?
    -do you feel particularly shut down when it comes to feeling really strong positive emotion? Maybe the “soul shrapnel” chapter from North Star will help.
    -when was the last time you did something really creative and fun? Sometimes a stroll through an art museum or a hike in nature or picking up a camera can do wonders to get your creative juices flowing and to feel more present in your body
    -maybe this way of connecting with your essential self just doesn’t work for you! That is ok too, and I encourage you to keep searching for ways to validate your strong, clear signals from within that tell you which direction to go in your life.

    Thanks again for weighing in! Let me know if you have other questions or suggestions and I will try to cover them in future blog posts.

    All the best,

    -Pam

    Reply
  2. Dwight
    Dwight says:

    My Own Best-Case Scenario

    It is an incredibly beautiful day. The air is clear, the scenery dazzling, and I’m setting out to go mountain biking with Tim. I’ve got no other responsibilities, no immediate deadlines, and no major problems weighing me down. I feel great, even better than I did back before my stroke, when I was exercising on a regular basis, and I loved Anita. In fact, I am in the best physical shape of my life: strong, lean, robust and full of energy. I’m having a great conversation about what life means when a message arrives for me. It’s a letter from the president, saying that I have been chosen to receive a lifetime of financial support to do my personal and profound writing. This will require that I spend a lot of time with Erin Gruwell and the Freedom Writers. I feel just the way I do when writing and sharing something personal and profound on my blog, only more so.

    I lie back for a moment, take in the scenery, and enjoy knowing that this is basically how I am going to spend the rest of my life. Welcome to my daydream!

    Reply
  3. Hi Jennifer
    Hi Jennifer says:

    Thank you for sharing this exercise with me, it really help me to put things in perspective. I don’t think that I had ever had the time to really sit down and focus on my life in such a waye specially with my very hectic schedule. Iam currently the director of a local child development center, program manager of another child development center, a care taker for my elderly and disable mother, a care taker for my grand-daughter, a parent of 5 beautiful children, and a student at Kaplan University. It’s really hard trying to focus on myself when all these people depend on me.

    After doing the surey you made me realize that I really need to focus on me. So this weekend it will be all about me. I am going to engage in some aroma therapy, do my hair and nails, get dress and go and sit on the balcony with some soft music (instrumental only), prepare fresh fruit tray and a daquari and watch the sun go down by my self.

    Thank you so much, I think that this break is well overdue.

    Thanks again

    Reply
  4. jennifer e
    jennifer e says:

    Wow this made me look at all I say yes to mostly my family, but I put them first in my life so it wasn’t that big of deal for me to us family listed alot. But I think that im going to take some time for just me. Thank you Jennifer E

    Reply
  5. Heather
    Heather says:

    My sister recommended that I check out Martha Beck’s information which is what led me to this blog and eventually to this article. I went through both the inner no exercise and this inner yes exercise. Very helpful–been going between being extremely happy and quite depressed since leaving my husband (for good reason). These exercises helped me to get in touch with what makes me “me”. Thanks a bunch! 🙂

    Reply

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