We live in a “yes, we can” world.
The word “yes” elects politicians. We read books about the power of the positive response. “Yes-men” tend to scale corporate ladders with spider-like efficiency. We want to watch movies about people who say, “Yes, I do.” In so many ways, we are trained from a young age to say “yes” to everything (except maybe drugs and twerking).
In our culture, answering in the negative is viewed as failure; in fact, there’s a bit of violence, a shade of guilt and the not-so-subtle undertone of disappointment when we do not answer the call. A researcher who had cared for hundreds of terminal patients compiled a list of their most common regrets. The most consistent remorse expressed by the dying were that they spent most of their time saying “yes” to the life others expected of them.