I’m not a big fan of people who say yes to life.

Those are the people who eventually throw themselves onto oncoming traffic because life said no to them.

But I could say yes a little more often, especially because so many of my friends have said yes. It’s turned out well. I have two friends who said yes to a weird little conference and eventually got married. I have another friend who said yes to a random job and is now very wealthy from a technology startup. I also have a colleague who said yes to an internal opportunity — despite the fact that she hated her company and her boss — and is now traveling the world.

Are my friends psychic?

I don’t think so. I think they just look at rules and risk differently from everybody else.

How do you say yes?

First of all, I think people who say yes are saying “yes and” or “yes but.” They don’t fling themselves into chaos. They see an opportunity, and they take it on their terms. So maybe if you’re inclined to say no, think about how you can negotiate your way into a more beneficial position of strength.

I also believe that people who say yes to life are the very same people who have a smart contingency plan. If things go wrong, and they always go wrong, the disruption is minimized. Life doesn’t end. When you live a significant life with multiple sources of joy and pleasure, one small setback won’t kill you.

Finally, the smartest men and women I know will say yes based on soul-searching and evidence of past behaviors. If you put yourself in X situation, will you get Y results? Well, you have to be brave and bold enough to look at your inner motivations (and pathologies) to know if there’s a reasonable shot of success.

I know that I’m a fabulous cat foster mom, for example. I can nurture the hell out of kittens. But I tend to keep some of those kittens, which leads to trouble in my house. Although I love animals and have space in my home and life to foster, I need to stay the hell away from animal rescue work and involve myself in other ways — by writing checks, organizing events, and participating in community awareness activities.

You don’t have to say yes right away.

Whether it’s a personal relationship or a work-related dilemma, the best way to say yes — and see some success from your efforts — is to pause before you say anything and think about life. Sometimes we say yes but forget who we are and betray what we need in our lives.

Say yes on your terms, chill out, and live a personal and professional life of integrity so that the consequences of failure aren’t so dang catastrophic.