I have a friend who was on the verge of becoming a nun. She was already provisionally engaged and was living in a Catholic community. I went to visit her there a couple of times—at that period in my life, living in a religious community (rather an ashram, though) was not far from me; I considered it as a possible way of living. Besides enjoying my time with her, I got a glimpse of the lifestyle of such a community.
I heard about the big YES concept from her. Living as a Catholic nun comes with a lot of renunciation—you have to renounce your wealth and your income, you commit to living in celibacy, your days are determined by the needs and the mission of the community and there are plenty of religious duties you have to perform.
My ego was amplifying all I heard from her, and I was convinced I was too egoistic to be able to surrender to this extent. But then she said: “Do not see my life as a bunch of small NOs, saying ‘no’ all the time to everything. See my life as one big YES—saying ‘yes’ to my choice of being a nun, serving God and accepting everything that comes with this decision.” To tell you the truth, at that time, I could not entirely embrace this notion.
Understanding the big YES
As the birth of my son taught me much about surrender, I now can understand more what my friend was talking about. Having kids also means I have to say ‘no’ to many things I enjoyed before, but the unquestionable big ‘YES’ makes it much easier to turn an invitation to a party down, to read a bedtime story instead of going out to dance or staying at home with a sick little fellow, knowing that work can wait.
There are other areas in my life ruled by one big YES:
- Our choice of a private school that gives me the peace I need about the lives of my kids. The certainty that my children are at a place they love to go to and that is in line with my philosophy about education is so worth the money we need to pay.
- The freedom I have now to write and build my own company, instead of being employed and working 9 to 5. When I become upset at the tighter budget we now live on, I only have to remind myself of the immense learning writing brings to my life and the freedom I enjoy (Thank you for letting this happen, my dear!).
- We started to live with less this year by moving to a smaller apartment. The readjustment we made in our life shifted our focus from things to experiences—my son’s birthday present was not another toy, but a surprise guided tour in the zoo at night.
Embracing the big YES
I can also call this concept a trade-off. I make a choice in favour of something while being aware of the fact that with this decision I renounce other possible options. Either way you call it, get some paper and a pen out, and write about your big YES and trade-offs you choose to have.
- What is the big YES in my life? Are there any more?
- What trade-offs do I consciously make?
- What am I working for?
- What does money bring to my life? What do I choose to buy?
- What are the things I do not have due to my current lifestyle, but I wish I had?
- What changes am I prepared to make to bring those things into my life?
After re-reading your answers to the questions above, check in with your long-term goals. Do your conscious decisions support your long-term goals?
Orsolya Hernold is the writer of orzola.org, a blog dedicated to personal growth by journaling. Orsolya offers topics with powerful questions to explore, online courses, and printed journals to help readers to create the habit of journaling. Follow her by subscribing at orzola.org, Facebook or on twitter.