(Or: “An Epiphany I Had about the Nature of Communication While Standing On My Head”)

I was at my morning yoga class the other day, doing a headstand against the wall and thinking about what my wonderful yoga teacher, Marlene, had just said:

“Remember to lift your chin away from your chest in the upward motion of yes – it’s the best way to protect that lovely curve in your neck.”

We had talked before about the usefulness of that phrase – “the upward motion of yes.” After all, it’s hard to convey directions when you’re talking to someone who’s standing on her head! By referring to how we move our heads when we nod, it’s easier to visualize where to move our chin when we’re upside down.

But on this particular morning, as the blood rushed to my brain and I focused on not falling sideways and knocking into my similarly inverted neighbour, I couldn’t get that phrase out of my head.

upward motion of YES

Let’s pretend that this is what I look like when I do a headstand.

The upward motion of yes.

I wondered why my mind kept rolling it around, exploring it from all angles.

I thought about how empowering it is to say YES to something – an offer, an invitation, an opportunity – and how being on the receiving end of a YES can brighten your mood, boost your energy, and raise your self-esteem.

And how direct response copy that focuses on the positive – the carrot of desire vs. the stick of fear – almost always gets a better response.

And how my kids visibly swell with satisfaction and pride when they receive positive feedback on a job well done.

AND how much more attractive and magnetic most people tend to be when they speak passionately in support of something they believe in – as opposed to attacking something they dislike.

We are naturally drawn to the positive. It lifts us up, gives us hope, and encourages us to focus on the solution rather than the problem.

“Yes” opens us up to possibility. It gives us a reason to get excited about the future and anticipate a positive outcome. It encourages us to expand, instead of shrink.

Yet all too often, as I hang out on Facebook or browse the comments posted on the latest news stories (yes, I am a brave person), I’m struck by how many people say NO.

NO, that will never work.

NO, that’s not true.

NO, we can’t.

NO, they won’t.

NO, I don’t like it.

NO, I don’t believe her.

NO, we shouldn’t trust him.

NO, I won’t support them.

NO, I don’t agree with you.

As I read all of these NOs, I can feel them deflate my positive outlook and bring me down to a darker place. And I find myself looking for ways to distance myself from that person’s point of view – even when I agree with the gist of what he or she is saying.

Yet when I see people say “YES! THIS IS AWESOME AND I LOVE IT!” I’m more inclined to pay attention and listen to them with an engaged and open mind – even when I’m fairly certain I’m going to disagree with whatever it is they have to say.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.

YES builds bridges. NO creates walls. And there are already too many artificial barriers dividing us and obscuring us from the obvious truth that there is no “them,” there’s only us – and we’re all in this together.

Now, I’m not saying we should ignore the negative altogether, or pretend that everything is always “la la la,” so perfectly positive in every way.

Got to keep it real, yo.

But as you discuss the problems or negative situations that are on your mind, I challenge you to consider them in a more positive, solution-focused sort of way. Yes, we humans are capable of creating enormous problems for ourselves and the planet and committing the most horrific crimes. But we’re also capable of creating the most ingenious, mind-blowing solutions — and creating works of breathtaking beauty.

What you choose to focus on is up to you.

(Above all, be kind and remember: behind every opinion you disagree with is a living, breathing person who loves, laughs, cares, dreams, hurts, fears, and simply wants to be happy – just like you. No matter how crazy-ass insane their views appear to be from your perspective, LOL. 😉 )

And as you write your articles and blog posts and engage with people on social media, I encourage you to consciously focus on the biggest sources of YES in your own life:

What do you love?

What do you believe in?

What are your greatest hopes for the future?

What are the positive things you see happening in the world around you?

This is the kind of sharing that brings us together and creates community. It reminds us of what we have in common and unites us in the belief that the world is actually a pretty awesome place – and together we can make it even better.