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"Yes, and..." - The Improviser’s Mantra for Life



The principle of "Yes, and..." is a cornerstone in the art of improvisation. When you're improvising, rejecting ideas isn’t an option because it halts the story dead in its tracks. Improv thrives on building, creating, and collaborating, hence the golden rule: always respond with "Yes, and...".


Being in a relationship with an actor/comedian has taught me that "Yes, and..." is more than an improvisational tool—it's a life principle. I used to be hardwired to default to "no," a knee-jerk defense mechanism that I thought gave me control. But hindsight has been a clear lens, revealing the self-inflicted setbacks and missed opportunities this habit caused.


Rewiring my brain to embrace "Yes, and..." hasn't been a cakewalk, but I'm getting the hang of it. I'm noticing a marked improvement in my openness to life’s propositions.


Now you might be pondering, "But what if I really need to say no?" I had the same question. It's not about losing your right to refuse; it's about how you phrase that refusal. There's wisdom in the saying, "If you can choose between being kind and being right, always choose being kind." That's the approach here—when you need to say no, you still say it but with a kinder twist. For instance:


Option A:

"Do you want to watch a movie with me right now?" –
"No."

Option B:

"Do you want to watch a movie with me right now?"
"Yes, I'd love to watch a movie with you, but I can't at the moment, maybe later."

You're still declining, but instead of just asserting your right to refuse, you're choosing kindness. You're acknowledging the other person's desire while setting your boundaries. Thus, the interaction remains positive and everyone's feelings are considered.


My commitment to this "Yes, and..." mindset runs so deep, I've inked it onto my skin as a permanent reminder—in French, for an added touch of finesse.



The true power of "Yes, and..." hit me full force when I applied it with my 3-year-old daughter. With her, every day was a battlefield of wills, resulting in yelling, tears, and airborne objects, until my partner reminded me of the "Yes, and..." principle.


😱 OMG, if you have kids, brace for a revelation that will revolutionize your relationship!


Here's the contrast in our daily scenarios:


Option A:

3-year-old: "Mommy, I want cookies."
Mom (yep, that's me): "No, you can't have cookies for breakfast."
3-year-old: (screaming) "I want cookies!!!"
Mom: "No, not for breakfast."
3-year-old: (now crying and launching toys) "I want cookies now!!!"
Mom (voice escalating): "I said no! And if you throw one more thing, you're never having cookies again."

Predictably, this was a recipe for a terrible, no good, very bad time.


Option B:

3-year-old: "Mommy, I want cookies."
Mom: "Yes, and you'll have one after breakfast."
3-year-old: "But I want a cookie now, before breakfast!"
Mom: "Yes, and as soon as breakfast is over, you can have it."
3-year-old: "I want it now!"
Mom: "Yes, In understand you want a cookie, and after we eat, you can have it."

No tears, no tantrums, no airborne toys—just a peaceful negotiation and a happy kid who felt heard and a mom who maintained her sanity.


I invite you to incorporate "Yes, and..." into your life. Observe the shift in dynamics, the opening of doors, and the peace of kindness. And when you do, come back and comment, share with us, with the tribe not just the successes, but also the lessons learned along the way. Through our collective experiences, let's spread the influential ethos of "Yes, and...". In doing so, we're not just changing the script of our dialogues; we're rewriting the story of our interactions for the better.


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