The other day, a friend asked me what my topic for the December newsletter would be. She guessed it would focus on family, connections, a review of the year, vision-boarding, or other kinds of things we tend to think about at this time of year. Then I replied that I wanted to focus on The Gift of Yet, I wasn’t surprised when she responded with a look of confusion.
“Dwell in possibility.” Emily Dickinson
We live in a world of absolutes, where we use words like “never” and “always” and have fixed ideas about ourselves, other people, and how things should be. Adding a simple, brief word to our daily vocabulary, though, has the potential to dramatically shift our perspective and provide a vehicle for possibility – sometimes where we hadn’t imagined it before. The word? Yet. Don’t believe me? Consider the sentence, I can’t learn to play musical instruments. Now pause for a moment to consider how this sentence feels: I haven’t learned to play the guitar, yet. Just saying that sentence to myself, I notice my body relax and my shoulders drop. It feels like an opening, a gift.
The psychologist and educator Professor Carol Dweck has said, “Becoming is better than being.” Sal Khan of Khan Academy credits Prof. Dweck with making a major positive impact on people, thanks to the studies she’s done on the benefits of cultivating a growth mindset (and the fact that this is available to every single person). Her Ted Talk, “The Power of Believing that You Can Improve,” in which she talks about how powerful the word Yet is, has been viewed over 400k times, which proves that people need the gift of Yet.
“I tell myself what I am and speak it into existence.” Michael O. Benjamin
Earlier this month, I came across Michael O. Benjamin, who published his first book, The Power of Yet, earlier this year. I had the pleasure of speaking with Michael the other day, and he explained that one of the things that inspired his book (and now speaking engagements) was his ability to pay off his $30K of student debt in one year. The book is a fictionally-based narrative that also includes many exercises he used and continues to use in other areas of his life, exercises like creating his own daily affirmations, writing what he’s aiming to accomplish, and carrying those messages with him every day. I’ll be writing more about his book in the next newsletter, but I want to give you something to think about in the meantime
To live is to struggle. We can (and often do) confirm insecurities and doubts we’ve been harboring and stay in a fixed mindset when we stop short of challenging ourselves or stay in our “comfort zones.” But, when we can embrace and learn from challenges and adversity, we cultivate a growth mindset and expand our opportunities of possibility. Embracing the idea of Yet shifts the perspective of struggle, as it reframes challenges and adversity as possibilities.
I don’t feel comfortable in social settings, yet…
I don’t eat healthy during the holidays, yet…
I didn’t fulfill last year’s resolution/goal/intention, yet…
I don’t enjoy the holidays, yet…
In addition to our own personal aspirations, we can apply this in all areas of our lives, from social settings to relationships (I don’t get along with ______, yet…).
Incorporating Yet can be incredibly transformative, just as Professor Carol Dweck and Michael O. Benjamin illustrate in their work.. So, this year, I am giving you The Gift of Yet, the gift that is perpetually opening, and I encourage you to re-gift Yet (without embarrassment or shame) to others.
This December as you take stock of the year, consider what you want in 2020. As you get together with colleagues, friends, and family, consider how you can give yourself and others The Gift of Yet.
Think of a situation or relationship that feels fixed.
Example: The holidays are stressful and my family doesn’t understand me.
Now apply the Gift of Yet.
Example: The holidays can be stressful and my family hasn’t made an effort to really understand me, yet. How can I help bridge the gap?
What do you notice in your perspective? What do you notice in your body?