When was the last time you said yes to do something crazy?
I’m not talking about shitting in a bag, slapping a stranger, or walking across fire, crazy. Doing those things is just wrong and not helpful. I’m talking about something that makes you really uncomfortable, palm sweaty, butterflies kicking the shit out of your stomach kind of crazy, like calling up a person you like and professing your feelings to them, running a marathon, traveling to a foreign country on a whim, moving to a new city, quitting your job to chase your dreams, crazy.
I’ve been watching Yes Theory, and it’s all about that. If you’ve never seen any of their YouTube videos, it’s a group of guys, who all live together in the same house in Los Angeles. And they are living out a philosophy that people should regularly force themselves out of their comfort zone and say “yes” to opportunities they are presented with, even, or especially, ones that make them uncomfortable. They live by the phrase “Seek Discomfort.”
For example, one video shows them asking strangers if they would go skydiving with them that very day. So one of the guys from Yes Theory, Ammar, left his home a couple of hours before the skydiving appointment at 2p to ask complete strangers to go skydiving with him. Many said, “No.” Then, there was one girl who said, “Yes!” and to text her later. After that were some more, No’s. But, then, Ammar found a couple, a boy and girl, who were visiting LA, and they said “Yes.” The girl was hesitant, but the guy was ready and excited. They jumped into a car with a complete stranger, Ammar, and he drove off. Then, Ammar got a text from the first girl who wanted to go and said that she was ready. They picked her up. Here they were, a group of strangers, going on an adventure together. But not just any experience, they were going to jump out of a plane. Sounds crazy, right?
But, that is not the point. It does sound crazy, but it’s good. It doesn’t matter if something sounds crazy, unreasonable, or insane. That doesn’t matter. What matters is, are you living? Are you learning? Are you pushing yourself beyond what’s comfortable? The adage, “No pain, no gain” is apropos.
Too many of us merely coast through life looking for ways to increase our comfort. We watch TV on our couch, save our money for retirement, stay in our steady job, keep our feelings to ourselves, only hang out with people who think and look like us, never disagree with others, play it safe. We don’t take any risks. We say, “No,” when we should be saying, “Yes.” We don’t want any pain and forgo the gain.
Yes Theory is challenging the notion of what living is. A life well lived isn’t one that merely looks for comfort, safety, familiar. Living is more than that. They would say that at the heart of living is seeking discomfort, risk, adventure.
That’s not to say that everyone should quit their 9-5 job, jump out of a plane, get a tattoo. However, if you live a life where you only seek comfort, then you have to ask yourself, “Am I really living?” And, while you’re there, here are a few other questions you could ask yourself:
1) What am I afraid of and what can I do to overcome it?
2) What would I regret not doing before I die, and what can I do to achieve those goals?
3) What relationship should I repair or begin, and what can I do and say to step toward that person?
I know that those questions and this idea or pushing yourself to be uncomfortable isn’t easy. And, to be honest, if Ammar came up to me and asked me if I would jump out of a plane with him that day, I probably would first wet my pants and blush, then say “No, thank you,” and slink away. So, no judgments here. If any of you are reading this and feeling shame, there’s no need for that. No one here is judging you. I certainly can’t (I mean, I just hypothetically wet my pants). And, I don’t think those guys on Yes Theory are either.
We make ourselves believe that we can’t do something when in reality we choose not to do it. We say something is crazy to help us justify our choice to say no. Because something spontaneous like talking to a stranger, going skydiving last minute, quitting a job to start a business, asking a person you like out on a date is difficult. It’s scary. It’s painful. It’s uncomfortable. But, is it crazy? Or is “crazy” just a word we use to protect ourselves from getting hurt or rejected. We often say something is crazy when we don’t want to face the fact that failure is possible. Sometimes you have to make yourself vulnerable and welcome the chance of failure to taste the sweetness of success.
I remember the first time I saw my wife. It was when a friend was having a birthday BBQ on a beautiful spring afternoon. Then I saw her, my future wife. She was wearing this yellow tanktop blouse-thingy and some jeans. She was glowing. And, I was smitten. I said to myself, “H*** s*** I hope she loves Jesus.” We had never met before, but I was dying to. My palms instantly started sweating, and my mind started spinning. I had no idea what I was going to say once I approached her, but I was churning out dozens of possible scenarios of how I could approach her. And, if I didn’t, I knew that I would regret it for the rest of my life. That, I refused to do.
Eventually, she sat down at a table, and other people were sitting with her and there were no more open seats. She was sitting at the head of the table, and they were all talking. Then someone got up and left. It was my chance. I excused myself from the conversation I was having and walked over to the table and sat down. They were all talking about something. Then, I started to ask her questions, and one by one people began to leave until it was just Rachel and me. I asked for her phone number. She gave it.
Now to put this in context, I was also coming off of at least a dozen failed relationships over the past decade not to mention a broken engagement. I was not a winner when it came to relationships. My thirty-third birthday was fast approaching, and I had convinced myself that I was better off alone for the rest of my life. A couple of weeks before I met Rachel, I met with a guy who told me that I “should get back out there and try” and that “It only takes one.” I had heard such clichés before and wasn’t usually receptive to that type of advice. But, maybe it was the breakfast platter I was shoving in my face as I was listening to him, or maybe it was the fact that I was at the end of my rope with relationships and willing to take any help I could get. Regardless, I listened and believed.
The next day after the BBQ, I called Rachel and asked her out. After the first date, I fell in love. We went on our second date the next day, and I knew she was the one. Three months later we were engaged. Six months after that, we got married. I never felt more thankful and more alive.
Why do we limit ourselves? If I had said that Rachel was out of my league–which she was and is–and didn’t make myself uncomfortable by talking to her, we would have never gotten married. In hindsight, that would have been crazy. I would have passed up the best decision of my life. By saying “No” to ourselves, we rob ourselves of possibilities and potential for happiness, joy, greatness, glory, and dreams we can experience.
Now, you may lose, and you may fail. But, if you don’t try, you will never know. If you don’t say, “Yes” nothing will change.
It’s crazy saying yes to a total stranger who asks you to jump out of a plane. It’s crazy getting married after nine months of meeting a person. It does sound crazy, but it’s good.
It’s crazy good.