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Laziness is my default setting. No one I know would describe me as lazy – I work hard, I’m an avid Taekwon-Do practitioner, I like to go surfing on weekends and I’m utterly obsessed with travelling anywhere and everywhere. Nevertheless, given half a chance I would spend most of my nights in my pyjamas with the cat on my knee, glass of wine in hand, watching a DVD.
Not so long ago, I was doing just that: I was curled up with my other half and we decided to watch Jim Carrey’s Yes Man (2008) for some comic relief. Our choice of bedtime movies had been rather heavy of late – the Mexican–Spanish drama Biutiful (2010) and the American biographical survival film Into the Wild (2007) (not wishing to give anything away but neither has a particularly uplifting ending) – so this silly romantic comedy was a welcome change of pace. While it was by no means the best film I had ever seen, it did have an interesting message: exciting things can happen when you get off your butt and say yes!
Of course, there wouldn’t have been much to this film if Carrey’s character didn’t take saying yes to ridiculous extremes. I certainly wouldn’t advocate saying yes to anything that people ask you to do. Picking up hitchhikers, taking drugs and sleeping with anything that moves is likely to result in emotional damage, or worse, if that’s not what you feel comfortable with. But it did get me to thinking about some of the opportunities I might have missed out on by refusing to part with the couch, and I resolved not to pass on an invitation if apathy was my only excuse for doing so.
My psychological experiment yielded some interesting results, which I have outlined below:
1. After my housemate Caitriona’s birthday celebrations, I was feeling a little delicate to say the least. We had been out until 4am, a lot of wine and whiskey has been consumed, and I was gearing up for a pyjama date with the couch. But then my other housemate, Nicky, suggested we go horse riding. Some ums and ahs ensued but eventually I said yes and we ended up passing a spectacular day’s riding near the Great Ocean Road, saw some wild kangaroos and rounded things off at an American-style burger place. My hangover had been forgotten about by approximately 1pm.
2. I didn’t feel ready for my most recent Taekwon-Do grading. I’m a perfectionist and had decided that I wasn’t going to go for it on this occasion; better wait till April when I’d be more prepared. My instructor had other ideas and advised me to have a careful think about it – he wasn’t going to push me, but believed I was more than capable of passing. At the last minute I changed my mind and said yes to the grading. I was promoted on December 6.
3. Only last night I had planted myself on the couch, dinner on my knee, pyjamas on, ready to watch The Way (2010), an American drama about El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St James). Nicky then announced she had a spare ticket to the Women’s Finals at the Australian Open. It took an embarrassing amount of time to say yes to that one, especially given that she was not expecting any payment for it. But fortunately I saw sense within a matter of minutes and half an hour later we were sat in the Rod Laver Arena watching Li Na cream Dominika Cibulkova in two sets.
I have absolutely no desire to get all preachy and ‘life-begins-at-the-end-of-your-comfort-zone’ about this. Inspirational quotes and motivational speeches aren’t really my thing. I’m not promising that saying yes will change your life; after all, maybe you don’t need for your life to be changed. Perhaps you will say yes to something and it’ll be the worst thing you’ve ever done … or it’ll be only OK. I’m simply sharing some of my experiences and reflecting on how grateful I am that actually I don’t have to be that person who never answers their phone, or makes up crappy excuses just so they never have to leave the house. Nothing ever happens to that person.