Say yes. The universe rewards you when you say yes.
I tend to agree with that sentiment. Perhaps a little too ardently, to the point of taking on too much at times. Generally, I try to say yes to every opportunity that comes my way, in hopes of learning, growing, experiencing new things. But then those really tough decisions come up.
You know the kind - when one of those too-good-to-pass-up opportunities comes knocking, but saying yes would mean uprooting your life and giving up so many of the things that you love. Sometimes saying yes and going for it, despite what you'll be losing, is the right thing. It can be an amazing time for self-examination and to practice non-attachment by giving up your current status, home, or material things to go live and work somewhere new. That's how I've started all of my great adventures - moving to New York, moving to Italy, taking a job in DC, even enrolling in yoga teacher training. All huge, life-altering decisions that implicated letting go of other things. And the universe did reward me for saying yes to those things, a million times over.
I recently had to make one of those decisions again, and for the first time in my life I said NO.
I grappled with the decision for days, and when I finally made it, I didn't feel relief. I felt guilt. Guilt that maybe I was saying no because I was too comfortable in my life here to break out and embark on a new adventure. Guilt that I was being selfish by saying no to people who had chosen me. So I re-read some of the sutras.
Turns out, I was remembering only the "give stuff up" portion of non-attachment and forgetting that maintaining one's own peace and happiness is just as crucial."Once you are unattached in your personal life, you can serve others, and by doing so you will find more and more joy. That's why sometimes I say that the selfless person is the most selfish one. Why? Because a selfless person doesn't want to lose his or her peace and happiness." (Sutra 1.15)
Sri Swami Satchidananda's translation of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali reminds us that it is okay to give ourselves whatever it is we need to be contented so we may teach and serve from an honest and positive place. Non-attachment can take many forms. Sometimes it means letting go - of things, people, places, expectations, desires. For me, in this moment, it meant letting go of an idea of a life that didn't belong on my current path.
It can be hard to say no when opportunities present themselves. It can feel as if you are being ungrateful, or maybe even selfish. But sometimes it's okay to say no, just like it's okay to be selfish if your intention is to maintain a happy, peaceful self. Give yourself permission to follow your gut (the solar plexus is the part of the body that holds self-confidence and personal strength, so your gut is the right thing to trust!). It will tell you when to say yes to the new and - just as importantly - when to say yes to growing where you are right now.