My baby girl has a new favorite word. It’s so ridiculously cute when she says it that it’s hard not to laugh. It’s “no” to socks and “no” to bananas and “no” to walking and “no” to being picked up. She knows plenty of other words, but “no” is pretty much all I hear right now.
Surprisingly, her “no” brings me joy when she says it. Yes, mostly because of its cuteness but also because she’s standing up for herself. No is a happiness enabler because it lets us set boundaries around what we want, need and value. No gives us the power to be our true selves.
There’s definitely a difference between say no and being a jerk. We have every right to say no to something we don’t agree with. We don’t have to be yes people at all times. We should be able to say no and we should feel empowered to in order to be true versions of ourselves.
So how do you do this. Well, let’s say you serve on the board. You thought it was a good idea at first; one of your friends asked you to do it and it sounded interesting. But after every meeting, you’re drained. You don’t look forward to serving and now have this pit in your stomach every time a meeting rolls around. There are so many other ways you want to spend that time. This is when you should say no.
You shouldn’t feel obligated to waste your life doing things that don’t enable your happiness. If you continue to say yes in these situations, you’re enabling boredom, complacency and even contempt.
Set boundaries and stick to them. Let’s say you work 40 hours a week. Your boss says he needs you to stay late and cover for so-and-so. You won’t get paid any overtime. Quite the opposite, actually. Instead of being paid for your time, you’ll be sacrificing your family, your hobbies, your self-care. This is where boundaries are important. You should be empowered to set those boundaries and enforce them, knowing that your time is important. We make money in exchange for the time we sacrifice. Employers pay you for the value of your time. If they ask for requests beyond your boundaries, you can and should say no. You control your happy.
Make in-the-moment decisions based on long-term goals. All your son’s friends from school love some new TV show your kid has never watched. Now he wants a toy from that show. Are you obligated to buy him that toy? Of course not. And here’s why you should be empowered to say no - your decision in this moment effects the long-term values and dreams you have set for everyone. Whether or not you realize, you’ve already decided that money goes toward something else. It goes toward the future. Saying no might not win you a happy kid right this moment, but saying no enables happiness down the road.
Saying no keeps you on the path toward your dreams, whatever those dreams are.
We are expected to be a yes people. Yes I will join this. Yes I will buy that. Yes I will work this. Yes I will do that. We don’t stop and reflect on what we’re saying no to when we say yes to someone else’s dreams. We need to make decisions based on our happiness. If I say yes, will it enable my and my family‘s happiness? If not, say no.
When we say no, we are enabling happiness because we are enabling ourselves to live the life that is true to who we are, what we want and what we value.