#290 Saying yes

Chad came to visit last week.

We’ve been friends since ninth grade and you may remember him playing important roles in my life like Neapolitan Shake Inspiration, Ticking Clock Monster, or Chocolate Milk Boy Genius.

Chad’s been there for me through the thick and thin. He’s helped me through painful moments because his warm, easygoing manner and big buckets of kindness get people buzzing around him like moths on a porch light.

We lived near each other for fifteen years until his wife Kristen transferred jobs, sending her and Chad into a whole new life amongst the beer-and-cheese-lined streets of Wisconsin.

I don’t see Chad as often anymore so I always get excited when he visits.

Yes, I roll out my Class A Hospitality Treatment which includes an extra set of keys to my apartment, a dusty deflated air mattress yanked to the middle of the floor, and an open invitation to anything in the fridge — which on good days includes bendable carrots, expired butter, and a lone cream-colored pickle floating in a massive jar of brine.

When Chad came by last week it was like no time had passed at all. He wheeled his suitcase in and we plopped on the couch to catch up.

Of course, since I’m about as organized as a nursery school mud room I hadn’t managed to check my plans by Chad before he came over so over the next couple days I bounced a lot of different things off him.

“Hey Chad, I told a couple guys we might grab pizza with them later. It’s totally optional though — what do you think?” (“Sure, sounds great.”)

“Oh listen, I bumped into a friend on the elevator who may swing by later for a drink. Is that cool?” (“Sure, I’d love to meet them.”)

“Look, I’m stuck in the office a bit late tonight. It it alright if we grab dinner at like eight or nine instead?” (“Yeah, that works well. I’ll finish up my blog. No rush.”)

“Are you okay on the air mattress tonight or did you want some blankets on the couch?” (“The air mattress is like sleeping on a cloud. I feel like I’m five living with the Care Bears.”)

We had a great hangout and while he was packing to go home I mentioned that it was really noticeable how he always said yes … and was always up for everything.

“Hmmm…” he said, zippering up his suitcase. “Yeah, I guess I just always try to say yes. Go with the flow.”

We hugged and he jumped in the elevator before heading to the airport.

But his visit got me thinking. Maybe in these days of gung ho goal setting, squeezed schedules, and lofty plans for lofty nights, there was just something refreshing about Chad’s easy grins and Say Yes Philosophy. His soul seemed cool as a silent lake on a Sunday morning and he was generally unflappable by things around him. He found something he liked at the pizza place, made great conversation with my friend, and slept fine every night.

I had a teacher once who used to say “It’s a lot harder to agree with something than disagree.” He’d organize big debates in class and convince us to bravely venture out with arguments we weren’t even sure of ourselves. But with his constant grounding of “It’s a lot harder to agree than disagree” we’d find ourselves trying to say yes and find reasons why afterwards.

They were usually there.

Being around someone who says yes is a great feeling. It makes you say yes back and turns agreement into the norm. Chad’s helped me learn that life feels a lot smoother with big yes’s rounding every corner — there are less banged elbows, slammed doors, and black scribbly clouds floating above heads.

Saying yes is bold.

Saying yes is brave.

And saying yes is absolutely


Say yes to The Book of (Even More) Awesome

Photos from: here, here, here, and here

79 thoughts on “#290 Saying yes

  1. BAM!

    First to leave a comment leaves me feeling pretty Awesome :)

    p.s. Great choice as always Neil! Saying ‘yes’ truly is awesome

  2. Let go of the need to know and learn how to live by just going with the flow. My friend Peter gave me one of the best compliments I ever got when he told me “You know why I like you George? Cause you’re a pull the trigger can-do type of m*thaf*cka” You do what you say you’re going to do. I never thought of myself as a do-er. I was always more of a dreamer. Eventually though those dreams made their way out into my reality and I began to live a life that was beyond my wildest dreams.

  3. Sometimes saying yes to rising to the occassion of your life can be scarey…
    So Hip-Hip Hooray to the “Chad Ceer-leaders” in life to help us along the way…Who Care A lot, Who Care A lot… even when they’re just so new yet somehow know and light the way. Like this evening my 8 month old grand-son jsu seemed to know, rested his forhead on my heart, wrapped one little arm around my neck, the other hand on my cheek, nestled in, then smeared his runny nose in my hair, came up for a very drooley “smooch” on my face and said, “ah wub ru” and I went “with the flow” because it’s so easy to say yes to aw dat weal wub:) Awesome eye cleanser again tonight, Neil:()

        1. Thanks, Laura! Despite what you’re seeing on the national news, the “alert” level here is pretty low. I think we’re anticipating waves of ~3 feet, which is about what we get with bad storms.

          My thoughts and best wishes go out to our fellow commenters in Japan!

  4. Unfortunately in graduate school I have found myself turning down more things in favor of curling up with my dog and watching lousy TV/studying (but more of the former). As I was returning back to school from my Spring Break it occurred to me that I turn down things all too often and I decided that I was going to make this more of a philosophy for my life. I think it is a sign that it happened to be the awesome thing of the day and reinforces that this is definitely going to become a permanent part of my life!

    Thank you Neil for unknowingly giving me a push to be more awesome!

  5. Awesome in moderation! Just don’t make a “say yes to everything” day. That always leads to trouble, ussually the financial kind!

        1. Hmmm.. this makes me wonder what sort of a “persona” I’ve been cultivating for myself here.. :P

          I wonder what each of our legacies is going to be when all of this is said and done.. I’m hoping that I’m able to move the VD thing towards the bottom of my list..

          1. Well that is the beauty of anonymity. You can always change your user name if the VD thing starts to follow you around :P

            1. Trust me.. it takes A LOT more than a user name change to get rid of VD…

              Or you know… So I’ve heard..


              *runs away*

              1. Bahahahah … yeah, you’d also have to use a different email in order to ensure a different square …

                And maybe some sort of topical cream or prescription drug … just sayin’.

          2. Don’t worry. When I think “Freddo”, my thoughts are NEVER “VD” … it’s always some combo of Nutella, Jacob’s abs, your wife and her Snuggie, your abilities to combat spam, the acronym NTTAWWT, clever comebacks, ducks, jokes about jdurley/deli meat, etc.

  6. Please say YES to prayers for all the people in Japan, Hawaii and everywhere else who could be potentially effected by the earthquake and tsunami.
    My daughter’s “Chad” since kindergarten and her husband, aka my grand-sons God-parents are in Hawaii on their honey-moon. Yikes! Prayers, Faith,
    Please and thank you!

  7. To say YES, is much more difficult than to say no.
    But if you say YES, you say YES to life. And that’s the greatest thing that can happen to somebody.

  8. I LOVE it when you tell us stories from your life.

    I’ve been learning to say “yes” more often these days. Hubby will ask if I want to go somewhere or visit someone or something and even though I strongly believe that I will not have a good time, I’m learning to say yes. Nine times out of ten it wasn’t as bad as I had originally thought.

  9. I always say “yes” to others not because I want to but because I can’t say “no”. Awesome feeling if someone says instant “yes” to your thoughts.

  10. I love this one!

    I’ve always had a “don’t rock the boat” type personality … unless I very strongly object to something, I’ll just go with it. I HATE saying no / disappointing people, so every now and then I’ll say yes when I want to say no … but it almost always works out for the best anyway! Saying yes really is awesome.

    I LOVE people with the up-for-anything mentality. A few years ago I had a couple roommates who were polar opposites in this aspect. One fully embodies the “anything goes” philosophy and the other is a total Negative Nancy. No matter what the plans were, one was all about it and the other complained constantly (or flat out refused). Not saying you have to say yes to everything in order to be a fun friend, but people who say no to everything are pretty much … downers.

    1. Things never to be in life:

      1) Negative Nancy
      2) Debby Downer
      3) Antagonistic Annie
      4) Balky Betty
      5) Cynical Cindy
      6) Exhausted Eileen
      7) Frustrating Frannie
      8) Gloomy Gertrude
      9) Humorless Harriet
      10) Insecure Iris
      11) Joyless Jennifer

      I’ve got to get back to work.. anyone want to take over for me?

        1. 1)Antagonistic Annie
          2) Balky Betty
          3) Cynical Cindy
          4)Debby Downer
          5)Exhausted Eileen
          6)Frustrating Frannie
          7) Gloomy Gertrude
          8) Humorless Harriet
          9) Insecure Iris
          10) Joyless Jennifer
          11) Killer Kaitlyn
          12) Lifeless Lily
          13) Mad Mary
          14) Negative Nancy
          15) Opposite Oprah
          16) Peaceless Paige
          17) Quandry Queena
          18) Repugnant Rylee
          19) Sad Sally
          20) Tantrum Taylor
          21) Unhappy Ulyssa
          22) Vendetta Valerie
          23) Whiny Wanda
          24) Xanthippe Xenia
          25) Yellowing Yesnia
          26) Zero Zoe

          Yup, the whole list AND in order!

          1. Yay!! These were awesome! I’m going to start using these in real life..

            “So, the other day, I was on a date and it was going well until I could tell that she was TOTALLY an Opposite Oprah, and it went downhill from there..”

            “So, I got stuck on this project at work with a Yellowing Yesnia.. the work is never going to get done..”


    1. Alex, when you have the time read, “Remembering unforgettable friends” and have an awesome day.
      With all due respect, my “Chad, Chris, Shelley” friend inspired the neopolitin shake and she was a little darling who stirred it up to sweet and perfect awesome:)

  11. “living with the Care Bears” LOL! I don’t know what kind of magical air mattress that is, but I have to find one. The one I have launched my last house guest across the room when he tried to roll over. I’d be a much better hostess if I offered my guests some time with the Care Bears rather than a possible mid-sleep concussion. I love guests who go with the flow. I always try to say yes when I’m visiting friends because they know the ins and out of their little slice of the world and it’s always a more interesting trip to shadow their lives for a few days rather than try to play tourist.

  12. Thanks.

    I really needed something particularly special today, and you delivered!

    I don’t want the list to ever end…

  13. I love people who say yes to things all the time. Normally, I dont realize this is why I like them for a long time. But saying yes all the time has another interesting effect. It makes the times when you say no much more powerful and effective. Aside from making you possibly the most likeable person around, saying yes gives your opinion much more weight.

  14. 1. omg butter expires?

    2. Yes I totally agree that some of the best and kindest friends are the ones who go with the flow and know how to just allow you to enjoy the awesomeness of their brilliant company integrated into your life for the brief time you have together. I get to experience this every time my old college friends and I come together and its the best feeling in the world :D

  15. Chad’s helped me learn that life feels a lot smoother with big yes’s rounding every corner — there are less banged elbows, slammed doors, and black scribbly clouds floating above heads.

    LOL, I love it!!! This is so true, Neil. Great post

  16. “Say Yes Quickly” – a great poem by Rumi.

    Forget your life. Say “God is Great.” Get up.
    You think you know what time it is. It’s time to pray.
    You’ve carved so many little figurines, too many.
    Don’t knock on any random door like a beggar.
    Reach your long hands out to another door, beyond where
    you go on the street, the street
    where everyone says, “How are you?”
    and no one says “How aren’t you?”
    Tomorrow you’ll see what you’ve broken and torn tonight,
    thrashing in the dark. Inside you
    there’s an artist you don’t know about.
    He’s not interested in how things look different in moonlight.
    If you are here unfaithfully with us,
    you’re causing terrible damage.
    If you’ve opened your loving to God’s love,
    you’re helping people you don’t know
    and have never seen.
    Is what I say true? Say yes quickly,
    if you know, if you’ve known it
    from before the beginning of the universe.
    — Version by Coleman Barks

  17. there’s a fine line between sainthood and martyrdom,
    there’s a fine line between being a great friend and guest,
    there’s a fine line between showing up for friendship and being terrifiably phobic because of the loss and pain the closeness may cause…
    there’s a fine line between whether what I’ve said is any of my business…
    whether it is hitting a home run or striking an icky chord, but I needed to say it nonetheless…because saying yes can also mean a whole lot of trouble.
    We need to respect ourselves too, when we go with the flow, nod, and are so free with “YES”… I refrained as long as I could…
    With compassion and LOVE I express this, with all due respect to frienships, Neil and YES:)

  18. It is amazingly refreshing to hear something positive every day. This post in particular was a nice one! Keep up the excellent work, chief. :)

  19. Totally agree! I had a friend who was so disagreeable and so we had to part ways..its so much nicer to go with the flow and hang around people who do too.

  20. Pingback: Care Bears Cloud
  21. You know, I’ve recently made this my philosophy as well, inspired by, of all people, Stephen Colbert. He made this brilliant commencement speech once, thankfully not in character, and I just thought it was the coolest thing ever. And it looks like you two share the same philosophy now.

    “Don’t be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying yes begins things. Saying yes is how things grow. Saying yes leads to knowledge. ‘Yes’ is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say yes.”

  22. Weird, I’ve always found it harder to say no. It’s nice to know people appreciate people like me :)

  23. Absolutely true. There are some friends I call first because I know they’re up for anything. No negativity, no trying to talk them into doing something different. They almost always say yes.

  24. It’s like that movie, “Yes Man.” Only in real life, which makes it automatically better! I like it!

  25. Think that i am going to take, saying “Yes” to a higher level, by my standards…..lol!!! i say yes more than i ever have before, but knowing that i am not alone in my love of the word “YES” inspires me!! gonna come back to this site, more often!! you guys are my new bestfriends!!! :)

  26. Seriously hats off to you Mr. Neil….. Saying just those 3 letters changes everything…..and makes your day go totally, uncontrollably AWESOME!!!

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