Have you ever wondered what would happen if you started saying “yes” to everything? If you just removed the word “no” from your vocabulary altogether and shrugged off any internal doubts or anxiety? That’s exactly what Michael Buchinger did. And when he found himself in hospital just six days after adopting this newfound philosophy, he may have asked himself whether it was all worth it.
It’s no secret that life has a way of settling into the same old routine once we reach adulthood. With the freedom of college or high school behind us, the demands of a career set in, and things can get pretty monotonous. It’s important, then, to find new ways to keep life interesting.
And in 2015 Buchinger came up with a plan to do just that. An author living in Vienna, Austria, Buchinger hosts a YouTube channel with over 150,000 subscribers and also performs regular cabaret shows. But even with all that going on, he was still determined to change his life in other ways.
In particular, Buchinger decided that he would spend seven days saying “yes” to absolutely everything – mainly because he’s usually very good at saying “no.” In fact, the moment that inspired him to change came when he turned down an invitation to a board gaming night with his friends. One of his chums responded to that refusal, “You’re always so negative. Give it a chance.”
But if Buchinger’s plan sounds familiar to you, it may be because it was also the lifestyle adopted by Danny Wallace in the early 2000s. At the suggestion of a stranger on the bus, the British writer, broadcaster and comedian spent six months saying “yes” to everything in a bid to bring some positivity into his life.
And in July 2005 Wallace published a book documenting his experience, entitled Yes Man. It recounts how Wallace responded in the affirmative to absolutely everything – and the strange situations that followed. He won $45,000, for instance; he also met with conspiracy theorists and even ended up with a nursing degree.
Even if you haven’t read Wallace’s book, you may have seen the 2008 film that it inspired, starring Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel. While only being loosely based on the author’s memoir, Yes Man still carried the central theme of the consequences of saying “yes” to everything.
As for Buchinger? Well, his week-long journey started out mundanely enough. At first, it only meant accepting the offer of dessert or another glass of wine at a restaurant. But then he was asked onto a radio show. And of course, there was only one response he could give.
The invite came as a result of Buchinger’s YouTube channel and involved doing a one-hour show live on air. Despite his internet fame, however, Buchinger admitted in an article for Vice in 2015 that he “gets anxious easily,” so saying “yes” to this particular offer wasn’t that easy. Nonetheless, he agreed to do it.
Unfortunately, proceedings didn’t start promisingly. Buchinger kicked things off by accidentally spilling a glass of water – which only just missed the control board. Once the show began, however, things turned around, and by the writer’s own admission it actually went very well. It seemed, then, that Buchinger’s new lifestyle was proving beneficial.
The next day, Buchinger’s newfound inability to say “no” led him deep into a conversation with a charity worker, who very nearly talked him into adopting a tree. However, just before he was forced to commit by virtue of his week-long experiment, he was rescued by a text from a friend.
The text wasn’t exactly welcomed by Buchinger, though. His friend had asked whether he wanted to join him for a workout the next day, and there was nothing he could do but to say “yes.” Even his attempts to weasel out of it – “I’m not feeling that good,” he texted – couldn’t save him from the pains of CrossFit.
Inevitably, then, Buchinger found himself in the gym the following morning, ready to do some serious exercise. The lesson consisted of doing 1,000 kettle bell swings, to which the YouTube star agreed. Half an hour later, the trainer told a sweaty and bloodied Buchinger to stop. He’d done 600 swings.
The next day, though, Buchinger was seriously feeling the effects of his workout. He couldn’t walk properly and even had difficulty standing up. But while that may sound like normal post-exercise pain, what followed was definitely not typical after a session at the gym. Buchinger headed to the bathroom and discovered that all was not well with his body.
You see, it turned out that Buchinger had a severe medical condition. After realizing his urine was not a normal color, he’d headed to the doctor, who had diagnosed him with rhabdomyolysis. In simple terms, this happens when your muscle tissue begins to deteriorate, and this in turn can result in some potentially dangerous health problems – including kidney failure.
“She must have been in pain holding the tears of laughter back,” Buchinger wrote for Vice, reflecting on his doctor’s reaction to hearing just how he’d managed to do such damage. All he told her was that he’d done a CrossFit trial, however – not that he’d decided to say “yes” to everything for seven days.
Fortunately, the end result was that Buchinger finally got to say a “yes” that he very much wanted to – that is, in response to being told he needed to go to hospital for some injections. And he ended up staying overnight in the facility; this gave him plenty of time to reflect on the past few days and the toll his new outlook had taken on his body.
By morning, Buchinger’s health was improving nicely, and so he was able to return home. Once he got there, though, he realized he had a message from his friend – the one who had kicked off the entire enterprise by inviting him for a night of board gaming. This time, though, she was asking him to join her at a ukulele concert. And after all that had happened, he finally replied, “No.”
Since then, Buchinger has tried a couple of new week-long lifestyle changes, both of which he also documented for Vice. In 2015 he adopted Gwyneth Paltrow’s dietary habits; in 2017, meanwhile, he spent seven days imitating the lifestyle of a professional Instagram star. Neither of these other trials have landed him in hospital, however.
So, while saying “yes” to everything may seem like a great way to live your life, it doesn’t always work out that way in practice – as Buchinger’s misadventure with CrossFit proves. And it’s hard to imagine that he’ll be committing to the same levels of agreement in future. Indeed, as the writer put it in his article for Vice, he ended up abandoning his newfound outlook on life “by the hospital bed.”