We're taught from a young age that "no" is something rude or negative. But I'd like to suggest something totally crazy and say it's probably the best thing that you can ever do for yourself. This blog promises Jaunty things, which covers a thankfully wide spectrum, from personal style, to art, to what makes a person happy, but at the root of all those nebulous posts is that it's all about choice. We choose our happiness. We make a decision over what we feel is best for us. But sometimes those choices are driven by too many good intentions and we all know what road that leads us to.
I had several different conversations with friends recently and the topic of being overly accommodating to others came up. Everyone said the same thing: they wished they could say no, but they felt cornered into saying yes. And boom, before you know it, someone's committed to a day of screaming children at a popular toy store, someone's making five hundred cupcakes for a party of strangers -- insert your Doh! moment here. It's a false courtesy, and more times than not, we feel obligated to say yes than the dreaded no. Everyone does it and no one wants to admit how tiring it can be because it's not like you're shoveling coal. We should be happy to do this stuff, right? It's good to help babysit, or run an errand for someone, to promise to be at an event or do something for a function -- we do this every day and it's the good and right thing to do, as long as we're in the right frame of mind, with the energy to actually accomplish what was promised. But we're never fortunate to be in a situation where we can focus on a single thing at a time. There's always something else going on in our own lives, it makes for added noise, but the part of you that learned to not say no inevitably says yes, and then you wonder why you're falling asleep at the computerrr.... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz - snort - WHAAAAH??
I know for myself, I'm trying to cut back on things this year. Say no to assignments that aren't worth the trouble. Try not to work so much that you forget when it was the last time you had a full night's sleep. Those are the obvious ones to Just Say No to, but the hidden pitfalls are the things that you actually want to do. It sounds crazy, refusing something you genuinely want, but that is an ocean of agreements that inevitably drowns us. Too many promises that a single person can't possibly keep, or the temptation of fun is just too great and you wear yourself out and get yourself sick -- that was me over the holidays. Being sick on Christmas was a reminder of when to step away from everyone else's needs and just focus on your own, so you don't wind up with something stupid like walking pneumonia. Unacceptable. It's a strange and selfish-sounding resolution, to fully embrace the Power of No, but when you think about it, Yes is the gift of time we give to others, but No can be the gift we ultimately give to ourselves, if it means we're putting our health and sanity first. So let us celebrate the luxury of saying "No" more often -- it's surprisingly liberating.
Jaunty Fine Print: Graphic by Denise Sakaki