This past Thursday, my boyfriend and I went to see William Shatner’s one man show, Shatner’s World: We Just Live in It. I got it as a holiday present for my boyfriend because he is a big Star Trek fan, and let’s face it, who doesn’t want to see William Shatner. We learned a lot about his early years as a budding Shakespearian actor and very soon came to realize that this man has been in show business for a very, very long time. He also touches upon his forays into horse racing and into music with albums like the indomitable The Transformed Man. You come to see that he is a man who follows his passions. At the end of nearly two hours (and no intermission) he asks the audience, rather implores us to “just say yes.” I will take this as great advice for someone clearly going strong at 84.
What a great reminder, from someone who said yes to so many things and seems to be riding high after so many years. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve heard it, but it’s the first time I’ve heard it in a long, long time. It gave me instant energy and resonated with me long after the show ended – especially since I have a long performing arts background – and was/is a big part of my identity. It got me thinking, when and where did I start saying no in my life? When and where did you start saying no to the kind of life that you really imagined.
I realize that I am starting to sound a bit life-coachy, so I apologize in advance. I really do believe that most of us have the capacity to have an extraordinary life but we simply get in our own way by saying no to opportunities and experiences that otherwise may have enriched our lives. We say “no” to others and “no” to ourselves. We set invisible limits for a whole host of reasons such as self doubt, fear of success, fear of failure, ingrained childhood beliefs, and caring too much about what others think, etc… William Shatner, a unique recording artist for over 40 years, clearly didn’t care about the latter.
This goes back to the wonderful work of happiness researchers Sonia Lyubomirsky and Lahnna Catalino who contend that there is plenty of wiggle room for happiness beyond our genetic happiness set point – it’s actually not so little, it accounts for 40% of our overall happiness. This 40% isn’t just one or two positive things that happen in a year, they contend that it’s specifically the small positive actions we can take on a daily level (the ones we have control over) that have the most beneficial influence on our wellbeing. By doing this, we are in effect in the habit of saying yes. “Yes” to eating cleaner, “yes” to walking into the gym, “yes” to being more positive today, “yes” to taking a bike ride with your kid, “yes” to feeling more energetic, “yes, yes, yes!”
For me, it’s a big fat “yes” to add more structure and consistency to my weight training. I mentioned last week that I bought The Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises for just this reason. After a solid read through, I am in heaven. They give you a whole host of different variations of traditional weightlifting moves, so there is a lot to choose from. I chose the “Hard Body” workout at the back of the book designed by fitness expert Jen Heath. It’s a 3-day/week workout broken into lower and upper body splits for each workout, two sets with minimal rest and no rest from exercise to exercise. I tried it today and as a result, it kept my heart rate elevated more than a traditional weight training session and I enjoyed the structure of the workout (for example, I alternated between quad-focused legs and chest with a couple of core exercises thrown in today. The next workout focuses on glutes and back). I am really excited about this program because I still feel like I am training like a bodybuilder but changing it up with things like training my legs three days a week.
So I challenge you tomorrow and this week to pay attention to the when’s and where’s you are saying no. In the immortal word of William Shatner, “JUST SAY YES!”