Strengthen Your Positive Thinking Habit: Learn How to Say "Yes" More

How often do you say "no," either to someone else or yourself? If you find yourself constantly turning down things you know you'd enjoy, you may be stuck in a "no" habit—and it may be time for some positive thinking.

It can be a challenge to find the time, energy, money, or guts to do the things on your bucket list, especially if you're on a diet, living on a tight budget, or never feeling caught up at work. But if you're always saying "no," you're closing yourself off to potentially healthy changes, limiting your capacity to learn new things, and weakening your chances of becoming mentally and physically stronger.

Baby Steps and Beyond

If saying "no" is your habit, begin a new positive thinking habit of saying "yes" to crowd it out and break the cycle. Start with the things you can change in your immediate future. For example, if you're on a diet or healthy eating plan, add in space and freedom to eat more of the foods you want. Change up your fitness routine with one or two more workouts per week to allow for more freedom in the things you eat and drink. You should be able to truly enjoy a burger at an outdoor barbecue or sip a cocktail at happy hour without feeling guilty. If you leave open a few opportunities to treat yourself and relax your rules, you'll simply feel happier.

Then start to look at the bigger picture. How about saying "yes" to a well-deserved vacation? Create a vacation cash jar and put it on your kitchen countertop at home or desk at work (or anywhere you'll see it every day). Take extra opportunities to get cash back at the grocery store or drugstore and drop it in the jar. Promise to pull out a $10 or $20 bill from every paycheck and add it to the jar.

Consider an unforgettable staycation, too. Take a few days off from work and tack them onto a weekend or your regularly scheduled days off and stay in a hotel or Airbnb. Check out local deal sites like Groupon or Living Social. If you go somewhere nearby, you'll have more time to relax instead of spending time at the airport or in the car. If you save money on travel, you'll have more funds to book a spa appointment. You can do the things you've always wanted to try—this trip is all for you.

Instead of thinking about what you hope to do in your entire lifetime, reprioritize your everyday bucket list—the list of all the things you would love to do today, this week, or next week because they would be worth your while or sound fun and exciting.

Say "Yes" to Love

It's time to start saying "yes" to the people most important to you. Tell your loved ones you want to be with them more and ask to put aside time in advance. Schedule your time together as if it were an important business meeting or your yearly medical checkup. Make homemade pizzas for dinner, take a picnic trip to the park or the beach, or host a game night. Put it on everyone's calendar and make it a top priority.

If you're currently in a relationship, sit down together and write a list of things you'd like to do, such as zip-lining, learning to cook a new dish, or dressing up for a fancy date night. Make a promise to try at least one new thing a week and hold each other accountable. Make a fresh list after six months and marvel at all the things you've done already.

If you're single, remember that online dating isn't your only option. Saying "yes" allows you to meet new people and discover new places. Think about the things you love to do, and find new ways to get out and experience them with a group of people. Take a painting class, attend a book study, or go dancing with a group. Browse through local events and take a leap by going to check them out.

Saying "yes" attracts more happiness to you. So, why is it so hard? Well, saying "yes" can feel scary or dangerous because it might force you to try something new or to get out of your comfort zone. But the truth is that getting uncomfortable is part of the path to positive changes. When you say "yes" more, it opens up your life to more surprises, excitement, and positivity.