Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
I don’t know if you’re a Grey’s Anatomy fan? I watched the show religiously for some years then it sort of faded out for me, I don’t know why, probably because I had a baby and got brain freeze and forgot who I was and what I liked for a long time.
Well, I recently was taken on a little trip down memory lane listening to a conversation between Oprah and Shonda Rhimes, who was the powerhouse writer behind Grey’s and several other shows.
Two things happened. I reserved Grey’s Anatomy season 1 at the library, and as quickly as possible I got my hands on her book, “Year of Yes”, which for me, and I would bet for thousands of others, has been another life-changer.
Here’s a snippet from the back of the book to give you an idea of what it’s about…
“With three hit shows on television and three children at home, Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say no when invitations arrived. Hollywood party? No. Media appearance? No. For an introvert who hugs the walls at social events and experiences panic attacks before press interviews, there was a particular benefit to saying no: nothing new to fear.
Then in 2013, Shonda’s sister Delorse muttered six little words to her: ‘You never say yes to anything’. Those words became a wake-up call – and a challenge. Soon thereafter, Shonda begain her Year of Yes project: she committed, for one year, to say Yes.”
Now, you may have your life well and truly together and think you don’t need this book (and power to you if that’s the case, truly. I salute you!) But me, I did not realise how much I needed this book.
You see, while my life I think looks pretty good on the outside, I realised not all that long ago that since having a baby, living through the death of a marriage, leaving my job to strike out on my own, and moving to a new community where I knew not one person… well, my soul had taken a bit more of a battering than I realised. And over many years my social confidence had gradually and sneakily dissolved until I had fully retreated into a cave of my own making. It was safe in there, I had lots of space for myself, after having years of no space at all during my marriage, and I didn’t have to really face “life”.
I was uncomfortably comfortable. And I was enormously lonely. And I have to say, I had a fair amount of time having a bit of a pity party in there. But a little while ago, I started crawling to the entrance of my cave. I was sick of being in there. I’m a sun lover, and also I love dancing and there was no room for that in there, and so I decided to peek out, and get brave. Oprah’s Supersoul Conversations and definitely the wonderful book Option B (see below) have helped a lot here.
So “Year of Yes”. What to say? I found it moving, inspiring, wonderful and Laugh Out Loud funny. I was reading it the other evening sitting on my front verandah with a glass of wine while watching the sun set out of one eye, and I started laughing so hard I snorted. If my neighbours thought I was a bit weird before, goodness only knows what they think now…
But actually, if I rewind to before I even had the book in my hands, pretty much directly after I listened to the conversation, I told one of my closest friends I need to do this! And I made a commitment there and then – and wrote it down in my dream journal – to start saying Yes to everything. Reading the book just solidified it for me.
And I have to say, after only a few weeks, my life felt and looked completely different. To the point that I went to a community event recently in my village and realised, to my stunned surprise, that I actually knew a whole bunch of people, who I didn’t know a couple of months ago, and suddenly I’ve become busy, not just working, but actually having – gasp – a social life!
Many of the things I’ve said yes to might seem really tiny and like no-brainers to some people, things they wouldn’t even blink at, where to me or someone else they have been huge roadblocks, and getting over them warrants a high-five every time. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Whether it’s just for a laugh (and you can never have enough of those) or you need a big kick up the backside, this is just a great read!
Have you read this great book? If so, what did you think of it? What gifts did it bring you?
“Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy” by Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant
I first heard of Sheryl Sandberg when I “accidentally” came across a video of her commencement address about 1 ½ years ago. It was a fantastic speech that really stayed with me. Then a few months ago I listened to an interview with her on Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast (which I highly recommend!), in which she spoke of her book, “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy”, co-written with psychologist Adam Grant.
My interest well and truly piqued, I got hold of the book, and I’m not exaggerating when I say I think it’s a book everyone should read.
If you’re not familiar with Sheryl, her husband died suddenly and tragically a couple of years ago, and the book is a combination of her story, how she and her family found their way through their grief, and many other stories – but more than that – a book about how people in all kinds of circumstances can build resilience and cope with, not just grief and trauma, but life’s daily disappointments and twists and turns.
“We plant the seeds of resilience in the ways we process negative events. After spending decades studying how people deal with setbacks, psychologist Martine Seligman found that three P’s can stunt recovery: (1) personalisation – the belief that we are at fault; (2) pervasivenss – the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life; and (3) permanence – the believe that the aftershocks of the event will last forever……Hundreds of studies have shown that children and adults recover more quickly when they realise that hardships aren’t entirely their fault, don’t affect every aspect of their lives, and won’t follow them everywhere forever. Recognizing that negative events aren’t personal, pervasive, or permanent, makes people less likely to get depressed and better able to cope.”
This is one of those life-changing books. It’s a really easy read (although you will need tissues) yet its messages are profound and it offers some great practical tools (p68 is one I’ve found particularly helpful). Little did I know when I ordered the book that just a few weeks later I would lose my dad unexpectedly, so the timing was quite spooky, but as they say, there is no such thing as coincidence. And even had I not had to deal with the death of my dad, this book is a real gift.
For me, the most powerful quote of the book, and the one that sums it up, is Sheryl’s quote: “Just weeks after losing Dave, I was talking to Phil about a father-child activity. We came up with a plan for someone to fill in for Dave. I cried to Phil, “But I want Dave.” He put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of Option B.” Life is never perfect. We all live some form of Option B. This book is to help us all kick the shit out of it.”
I hope you love this amazing book as much as I did, and I’d love to know what gifts you most take away from it! Share your thoughts…