I couldn’t put it down. Begin with Yes, by Paul Boynton. I know I will reread it, which is unusual for me, but there’s a lot to this small book, worth reading and then practicing in our daily lives. My thoughts and perspectives about the book’s value are in this full length blog post here. I’d suggest reading each morning as inspiration and ideas for practicing during the day.
I took his advice and decided to say “yes” to asking Paul Boynton to be interviewed for my little old blog. And he said “Yes.” (Read more about Paul, his book and his work as a “human services CEO” at this link.)
There is so much in his interview that I’m breaking up his answers into two blog posts, to give us time to process and maybe practice some of what he says.
His interview is a lovely and practical transition out of my February theme of “life balance, whatever it means to you” to my March theme which is all about self-care. I believe you will find that his approach fits in well with saying “yes” to ourselves, something many of us don’t do often enough, whether we realize it or not.
For those who have not read your delightful and practical book, Begin with Yes, can you briefly explain your philosophy or approach, and what the title means?
The title of the book actually reveals a lot about the content, and gets to the heart of my philosophy or approach to living an authentic and purposeful life. The word “Yes” speaks to the need to be open to possibilities and the word “Begin” speaks to the need to take action. In other words, it’s good but often not good enough to think positive thoughts; we also need to roll up our sleeves and actually do something.
I believe that the “Law of Attraction,” at least as many people understand it, falls short. To me, focusing on a desired outcome in what can become a self-absorbed, self-centered way seems a bit out of sync with how life really unfolds. And it somehow seems to ignore the need to actually take responsibility to make something happen rather than waiting for it to magically manifest. “Begin with Yes” encourages us to look outside of ourselves and find a balance between making our dreams come true and helping others move their hopes along.
I also recognize that it can be difficult to always feel positive or optimistic – especially during difficult and challenging stretches or transitions. “Begin with Yes” puts the emphasis on taking very small steps forward no matter how we’re feeling and believes the optimistic feelings will eventually fall into place.
“Our individual views – our realities – which we sometimes represent as the way things are, are really just the way things seem to be to us at the moment.”
Tell us more about why it’s important to understand this difference you articulate.
The truth is, we are each creating our own realities all the time. We interpret what’s happening around us in ways that make sense to us, and then we forget that it’s just our interpretation, and begin to think it’s the absolute truth.
Once we realize this is what we’re doing, we can begin to feel a little lighter about the “realities” in our lives. More importantly we begin to understand that since we’re creating our realities, we may as well create ones that lift us up and help us move forward.
Here’s an example: It may be a reality that you can’t play the violin. However it’s also a reality that you could if you rented an instrument, took lessons and practiced. Which reality you choose is up to you, and your choice makes a world of difference.
Principle #9: ”It’s a thousand little ‘yeses’ that make life-changing things happen.”
Say more about what these ‘yeses’ are and how this works.
The “yeses” I write about are really the small steps we need to take to move from where we are to where we want to be. The reason the concept of small steps is so important is because it’s not only the most practical way to make things happen, it’s the only way.
The distance from my home town in NH to the West Coast is 2578 miles. From here to Paris its 3440 miles, and from here to India only 7694. No matter how we choose to travel,the only way to get from here to there is to begin. And the best way to begin is with yes!
I know how easy it is to get overwhelmed by big goals or big problems and when we’re overwhelmed it’s also easy to get stuck. Not knowing where to start, we tend to stand still, and as we stand there, nothing much happens. The good news is that we can get moving again simply by asking ourselves, “What’s one small thing I can do today that will move me in the direction I want to go?” Answer that question, and then take that small step.
Instead of putting things off because the distance is too great, put a little energy into one of those small “doable today” steps. And by taking that small step today, you’ll wake up tomorrow that much further along.
And never forget that sometimes the smallest of actions, in retrospect, becomes a pivotal and significant life-changing moment.
That’s the end of part one of two parts to my interview with Paul Boynton. Please subscribe to this blog or watch for posts on my social media sites to read the second part.
Where to find Paul Boynton and Begin with Yes.
I am excited to meet him in person; if you haven’t heard, he is in Concord, New Hampshire next, on March 13th.