The Pillars of Happiness Part 2: Say YES!

Say YES!

I have found that the universe has a way of opening the right doors for you.  But only if you let it.  As Joseph Campbell put it, “…follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. “

In my experience, that means say YES to all opportunities that present themselves!  This is especially salient for those who may not yet know what feeds their soul—their bliss.  College dropout Steve Jobs famously sat in on a calligraphy class at Reed College, inspiring him to develop multiple typefaces for the first Mac computer, which Windows later mimicked.   In other words, saying YES leaves the possibility for the right doors to open and potentially change the course of your life, even the course of history.

Grilled corn on the cob from the streets of a village in the Himalayas? YES please!
Grilled corn on the cob from the streets of a village in the Himalayas? YES please!
Participation in a religious ceremony at a private Hindu temple? Sure!
Participation in a religious ceremony at a private Hindu temple? Sure!
Apply for an AIF Clinton Fellowship for Service in India? Sign me up!
Apply for an AIF Clinton Fellowship for Service in India? Sign me up!

Indeed that is how I ended up in Delhi, where I am currently working for a venture philanthropy fund and policy think tank focused on education reform in India. As my internship in public affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, was coming to a close in early 2014, I submitted applications to more than 70 jobs around the world in the fields of international education and cultural diplomacy.  I cast my net wide, saying YES to any opportunities that came across my radar, including the AIF Clinton Fellowship, which a former fellow suggested I apply for.  Accepting this position is sure to change the course of my life and hopefully those I’m here to serve.

In short, you may not know how saying YES is relevant to the bigger picture of your life. But there’s really only one way to find out.

Stay tuned for the final installation of my series, The Pillars of Happiness.  In the meantime, inspire me!  I’d love to hear how your decision to say YES has revealed or transformed your bliss?

Alexander's interest in international education began in Italy fifteen years ago. While studying classical piano at the Conservatorio Frescobaldi di Musica, he taught English at a bilingual school and worked as a freelance translator‰ÛÓwhich resulted in the translation of a biography. Several years later, supported by an NSA Scholarship and a Fulbright Award, he studied Russian and musicology in St. Petersburg, Russia. Alexander also worked as a bilingual teacher at the American School of Paris, where he developed his own curriculum. After a five-year stint as an importer of French art and antiques, Alexander decided to fully commit to a career in cultural diplomacy. He left the United States in 2012 for an intensive Hindi course in Varanasi, India, followed by a graduate program in International Relations at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. He then returned to India for a position at UNESCO New Delhi, helping develop Punjab's Cultural Heritage Policy in order to empower the Punjabi community on both sides of the border to collaborate in safeguarding their common cultural heritage.

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2 thoughts on “The Pillars of Happiness Part 2: Say YES!

  1. Great post Alexander 🙂 Totally agree with your philosophy of “say yes” to as many things as possible. I said YES to moving to London right after graduating with no money, no friends or job in the UK, despite everyone around me saying I was making the biggest mistake of my life. It ended up changing my entire life trajectory – it got me traveling more, starting an incredible 3 year career with Apple and, eventually got me moving to Sri Lanka and setting up my first company! Had I said “NO”, I wouldn’t have developed the courage, met the most amazing mentors, or gathered the knowledge to do any of the above.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. “When in doubt, say yes” was my goal motto from last year’s midpoint. Good to see that a lot of us are on that wavelength!

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