I was introduced to the “Yes, and …” agreement principle during a middle school parent night. The drama teacher explained that the first rule of successful improvisation was to accept as true what one participant says (“yes”) and then add something to that line of thinking (“and”); otherwise, the skit flounders before it even gets going. For example, if one participant opens with “Don’t move or I’ll shoot” and the other responds with “Why are you pointing your finger at me?”, you're kind of dead in the water (so to speak 😉). But if one opens with “Man, I am so tired from that run” and the second adds “I am too! Do you realize we shaved 30 seconds off of our best time?”, then you’ve got somewhere to go.
I’m not the first one to have pondered how this acceptance principle could be used to keep things flowing with joy and ease in our daily lives. What if, instead of getting mired in competition, or bound to a mindset of scarcity (e.g., if one of us wins, the other has to lose), we chose to employ “Yes, and …” thinking?
What if we said to ourselves, “Yes, wow, she just nailed it AND ... so can I”. Or “Yes, he has the exact (business/partner/house) I want, AND ... I can have that too.” What if we approached life with a big YES of acceptance of what is AND we included our contribution and success within it?
Unfortunately, the culturally prevalent mindset of scarcity - that there isn’t enough to go around, so someone else’s success, love, happiness, dream vacation, means that there isn’t room for us to also have those things - makes it hard to practice the acceptance principle. Instead, we either: (1) judge others by denying what is true (“Oh, he’s not really all that”); (2) disparage their success (“Well, she may have an impressive investment portfolio, but her marriage is a mess”); or (3) judge ourselves by comparison (I can’t do it as well as she did; he already did it; she has all the students/money/clients, so there are none left for me).
However, if we consciously choose to embrace a mindset of abundance - the belief that there is enough love, joy, success for all of us - we can leave the vicious cycle of trying to keep up with the Joneses and see others as leading the way for us, not taking anything away from us. Others' success can be like the opening salvo in an improv - your invitation to agree AND add your own unique contribution to the playing field. When we live into our best selves, authentically and without fear, we can in turn inspire others to dream big and say “Yes, and ....” to life. In an abundant Universe there is enough for all to be winners.
Where have you said "Yes, and ..." to life? What insight did it bring? Please comment below and let me know!