Shonda Rhimes: Year of Yes Quotes to Live By

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Year of Yes" by Shonda Rhimes. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What are the best Shonda Rhimes quotes from Year of Yes? What can we learn about happiness from these quotes?

In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes breaks down how she turned her life of stress and dissatisfaction into a life of joy and fulfillment. The key was to say yes to everything outside her comfort zone for a whole year.

Read below for the best Shonda Rhimes Year of Yes quotes.

Year of Yes Quotes by Shonda Rhimes

What would happen if you faced your fears and said “yes” to everything outside your comfort zone for a whole year? In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes, the celebrated television screenwriter and producer of the hit series Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, answers that very question. Rhimes recounts her journey of personal growth and transformation as she embarks on a year-long experiment to say “yes” to everything that scares her. From giving public speeches to prioritizing playtime with her daughters, Rhimes pushes herself out of her comfort zone and learns to embrace new experiences.

Here, we’ll break down three of Shonda Rhimes’s Year of Yes quotes to get a better understanding of her book.

“I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.”

As Rhimes got more comfortable accepting praise, she noticed a positive shift in how she felt about her gifts and successes. She realized that she had been making her voice and presence smaller and quieter to make others more comfortable. Because of this realization, she committed to speaking up more, being candid, and displaying her personal power. Doing so liberated her to be herself around others, in all her glory, without shame. 

Rhimes practiced embodying what she calls “badassery”—the practice of knowing your accomplishments and gifts and celebrating them. Acknowledging her badassery transformed her relationships—she could now appreciate everyone else’s contributions more because she wasn’t wasting her energy hiding.

“You can quit a job. I can’t quit being a mother. I’m a mother forever. Mothers are never off the clock, mothers are never on vacation. Being a mother redefines us, reinvents us, destroys and rebuilds us. Being a mother brings us face-to-face with ourselves as children, with our mothers as human beings, with our darkest fears of who we really are. Being a mother requires us to get it together or risk messing up another person forever. Being a mother yanks our hearts out of our bodies and attaches them to our tiny humans and sends them out into the world, forever hostages.”

To prioritize her family better, Rhimes committed to playing with her daughters more, which brought her immense joy and happiness. This meant that whenever her daughters asked her to play, she dropped everything and played with them, no matter what. Uplifted and refreshed by the joy of connecting with her children and the love they shared as a family, she felt more relaxed, creative, and grateful in all areas of her life.

Achieving this shift in priorities was not easy for Rhimes at first as it required that she create parameters with her job that she didn’t have before. Instead of letting work seep into her off-work hours, she committed to turning her phone off after 7 pm and avoided working on the weekends. Eventually, she found that her new relationship with work did not diminish her engagement with her job. In fact, she found the opposite—the more she prioritized playtime, the more energy and creativity she had for her work.

“Losing yourself does not happen all at once. Losing yourself happens one no at a time.”

Before her transformative year, being seen and heard in public had caused Rhimes severe panic attacks because she was afraid of being judged by others. She often passed up opportunities for events that would put her in the public eye, like interviews, because she was uncomfortable with that level of visibility. When she had to make public appearances, she kept her guard up and refrained from being vulnerable and showing her authentic self. 

As a part of Rhimes’s experiment to face her fears, she decided to say “yes” to every invitation, and she accepted two opportunities she might otherwise have declined: a guest appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel Show and an invitation to deliver a graduation speech at her alma mater, Dartmouth. These events allowed her to face her social anxiety head-on, and she discovered that being vulnerable in public can be scary but also gratifying and fun.

Shonda Rhimes: Year of Yes Quotes to Live By

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Shonda Rhimes's "Year of Yes" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Year of Yes summary:

  • The story of a woman who said "yes" to every opportunity for a year
  • How to go from surviving to full-hearted thriving
  • Why you shouldn't be uncomfortable with receiving praise

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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