Another name for this Yes is my Sacred Yes. I sense this Yes in my belly (gut instinct), I feel it in my heart, and I hear it in my head. When it shows up, I feel like I have almost no choice whether to follow it. This is the “Yes” that simply feels true. To go against it would be inauthentic.
I’m so glad I agreed to read Sandy’s book. It is full of rich insights. And there’s one line in particular that has been so helpful for writing Life Loves You. It speaks to me every day. It’s the sort of thing my inner voice would say to me:
Let the loving hand of the universe guide you.
“All I’ve ever done is listen to my inner ding and said yes,” Louise tells me as she reflects on her career as a writer and teacher. “I never meant to write a book. My first book, the little blue book Heal Your Body, was just a list I compiled. Someone suggested I make it into a book. And I said yes. I had no idea how to publish a book, but helping hands appeared along the way. It was just a little adventure.” Little did she realize that her “little adventure” would be a bestseller and the catalyst for a self-help revolution in publishing.
Louise’s story about giving talks follows a similar pattern. “Someone invited me to give a talk and I said yes. I had no idea what I’d say, but as soon as I said yes I felt guided along the way.” First came talks, then workshops, and then the Hayrides. “A few gay men regularly attended my workshops,” Louise recalls.
“Then one day I was asked if I’d be willing to start a group for people with AIDS. I said, ‘Yes, let’s get together and see what happens.’” Louise had no idea where the Hayrides would take her. There wasn’t a grand marketing plan. She didn’t target appearing on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Phil Donahue Show. “I followed my heart,” says Louise.
Saying Yes is a willingness to show up. “The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure,” said Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero’s Journey. The Sacred Yes is about the big plan for your life. It’s not about ambition; it’s about purpose. It’s not about profit; it’s about passion. It’s not about self-gain; it’s about service. The Sacred Yes is about being willing to take to the open road, as Walt Whitman described it.
Saying Yes is an act of faith. Sometimes we don’t know why we say yes. We don’t have the full picture; and sometimes we can’t even see the next step. It’s only after we say yes that the next step appears. And it’s only after we say yes that we realize there is help along the way. In the PBS special Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth, Bill Moyers interviews Campbell about the need for faith when we follow our purpose.
“Ever since I put my foot on the spiritual pathway, it’s as though I’ve had nothing to do with my life. Life has taken over and it’s led me all the way. I don’t lead. I follow the lead,” Louise tells me.
Saying Yes is a journey, not a goal. You say yes not because you are trying to get somewhere but because it’s what’s in front of you. In You Can Create an Exceptional Life, Louise tells Cheryl Richardson, “So often people ask about how I started Hay House. They want to know every detail from the day I began up to today. My answer is always the same: I answered the phone and opened the mail. I did what was before me.” The journey is the goal.
Saying Yes is being present in your life. When I was 18 years old, I received two letters in the mail on the same day. One was an invitation to study in a three-year program at Birmingham City University; the other was an acceptance letter for a one-year post-graduate course in journalism at the University of Portsmouth. I was young and ambitious. I wanted to take the fast-track course in journalism, but everything in my body, my heart, and my head said yes to the slow boat to Birmingham. This is where I met Avanti Kumar, my first mentor. This is where I began my spiritual path.
I’ve often wondered how my life would have unfolded if I hadn’t followed my Yes to Birmingham. I asked Louise about this once. She said, “Your Yes will always find you, wherever you are.” I love her answer. To me, Louise is saying that following your Yes isn’t about getting somewhere, and it isn’t about making the right decisions. It’s about being present. It’s about being authentic. It’s about being willing to be led. And it’s about looking in the mirror and liking what you see. That’s the journey.
Excerpted from my book, Life Loves You