Is your life a period or a question mark?
Sounds like a silly question, but it is important to answer. Do you make judgments quickly and move on? If so, you might be cheating yourself out of much of the success you could achieve and happiness you can enjoy.
As I travel through my life, I ask questions of friends, neighbors and total strangers alike. I have learned much from my inquisitiveness, and what I learn often surprises me. I find happy people often pause before answering and then respond with a question. Most of the unhappy people I know and encounter answer quickly and decisively and ask no follow up questions.
Happy people use questions to engage in a give-and-take conversation, and unhappy people give a quick response and rarely ask a question in return. I think being a decisive person, a quality that is often revered, is overrated. Turning life’s questions into quick black and white answers cheats yourself out of enjoying the spectrum of colors inbetween a stark yes or no response. And the other thing my inquisitive nature has taught me is that most quick answers are pessimistic or negative in nature.
Most people find it easy to say no. It requires little effort or thought. The word “no” is effective at ending a conversation, and often, that is the intention, but negative responses to questions almost never lead you to happiness.
Want to be happy? Find ways to say yes to others and, most importantly, to yourself. Almost everyone I’ve met has unrealized dreams. They had an idea they are sure would have succeeded; they have a book within them that has never been written and a song in their soul that has never been sung. Saying no to your dreams also is easy but is a tragic loss of possibilities.
Just say yes. Write the book; sing the song; apply for the promotion; change careers; start a business; fall in love. Don’t overthink it; just say yes.
I’ve lived my life by the words, “ready, fire, aim.” Just say yes, and pull the trigger. If you make a mess because you fired before aiming, clean it up and keep going, but if you never fire, you never get things done, and you have no chance at success. You can aim forever and let your goals and dreams pass you by, or you can jump in and make things happen.
What keeps people from firing? Fear. Fear of the unknown. The question, “What happens if I fail?” is a life-stopping/dream-killing question. Change it to “What happens when I succeed?” Optimism always trumps pessimism. Be positive. Ask the optimistic question, and the answer will encourage you to succeed.
Reinvent yourself and say yes to your dreams
I have reinvented myself over and over. Sometimes, it is life’s unexpected circumstances that force me to change or, at other times, I get bored, and I only want to do things that make me happy. In my life, I have been a music teacher, an entrepreneur, a president of a public company, a professional musician, an inspirational/motivational speaker and an author, and now, I am working at becoming a featured columnist — focusing on helping people become optimistic, positive, successful and happy.
I have failed as often as I have succeeded. Am I succeeding as a columnist? It’s too early to tell, and the jury is still out, but I am optimistic and working hard to be the best I can be, and I am having fun in the process.
You won’t always succeed, but you’ll learn from failure, and it will lead you to your next step toward success. Always give it your best shot. I’m not smarter or more talented, I just say yes more than most. Most importantly, I say yes to my dreams. I want the very same for you. Ask questions, encourage and feed your curiosity … and just say yes.
Gary W. Moore is a Kankakee native and Bourbonnais resident. He is an entrepreneur, business executive, motivational speaker, sales trainer, musician and author. He wrote the critically acclaimed book, “Playing with the Enemy,” winner of the 2006 Military Writers Society of America Book of the Year.