Find Your Path to Happiness By Saying NO

glorious sunrise or is it a sunset? the sun is always rising somewhere in the world!

Life is already tough enough without having to keep everyone around you happy.

Are you someone who always says “Yes”?

Do you always says yes to every request for help, advice etc?

Then you already know how challenging it can be to keep everyone else happy. The people around you can be so demanding. If you let them.

If you say to everything, what’s your No worth?

The definition of a YES man is someone who always goes along with the opinion of others, especially a superior at work e.g. their boss or someone more senior. Usually, the implication is that the “Yes Man” is just going along to look good and to appease others.

Are you a yes man or a yes woman in your life?

Lately, I have been practicising saying NO to every request for help. Of course in the kindest possible way.

Why? Because I am focussing on myself.

True self-love means putting yourself first, no matter what.

It’s not about being selfish or self-centred or careless. It’s about putting yourself first. As simple as that.

By saying no more often, you are opening yourself up to more opportunities for sampling and living life on your own terms.

So say yes to life by saying no more often.

Focussing on myself has meant turning down requests for help. And also invitations for socialising. Turning down an opportunity for partying is hard for someone like me. But it has to be done when there are bigger fish to catch.

Saying no to others means you can give all that energy, time and focus to the most important person in your life. You.

And there-in lies the path to true happiness. Finding yourself without being forever compromised by the demands of others.

Try it today and then for 7 days – say no to every request. Train yourself to be selfish!

You can only help others by first helping yourself.

Say no to others.

Say yes to life.

You know you want to.

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  1. fiona mccudden says

    Hi Arvind,

    Your post today resonates with me in so many ways. As one who has always endeavoured to be all things to all people, I wish I had realised sooner in life rather than later that “YOU CANT”. I know Arvind you to be a kind person. I myself have been constantly given this lable throughout my life. Perhaps kind people are those that feel, not to be kind is a form of selfishness and were taught that self love is form of narcissism. No doubt the reasons some of us cant say know range from a pure benevolent nature to a fear of not being liked or loved if we choose to say no and do our own thing. I am “labelled” as being a soft person. This is true and so difficult to change stripes at this stage, however I recognise at this juncture that the continued compromise of ones own dreams at the door of fulfilling every others wants, wishes and desires leaves one feeling nothing more than an empty vessel of endless possibilities and unfullfilled dreams. So going forth today I will promise myself to sometimes say “no” to a harmless request and replace it with a “yes” to myself.

    • Arvind Devalia says

      Fiona, having known you for over 6 years now, I can vouch for just what a kind person you are.

      And yes, I would also say that you are someone who usually puts others first.

      I look forward to the new you who takes charge of her own destiny and says YES to life:-)

  2. Linda/Positive spin says

    So true, Arvind. I have just started to cut back on saying ‘yes’ all the time. I felt anxious, overwhelmed and running to keep up. But when I started saying ‘no’, in a polite way, I found people were fine with it because they’d been there too so they understood.
    I’m going to keep more of my time for me. Then I will be able to fulfill my commitments with pleasure rather than resenting them

    • Arvind Devalia says

      Linda, I can already sense a change in you.

      Enjoy more of your time with YOU.

  3. Ken Wert says

    Hello Arvind!

    I can certainly see value in saying “No” for the sake of the practice of saying it for those who habitually say “Yes” when other things more important are pressing. Too many people let the urgencies of other people’s lives squeeze out the most important things in their own lives because of the “Yes” mindset they have.

    I personally, however, would never choose to say “No” for a week or for any particular set number of days. We never know what might crop up in life that legitimately takes priority over some other activity we are working on.

    Still, your point is a valid one. I know people who become so overwhelmed with life that they simply shut down and no one gets helped, including my friend. Her incapacitation is the direct result of not learning the wisdom behind your post.

    Thanks for the insight!

    • Ken, welcome to my blog!

      I suggested practicising saying no for a week so readers could built that muscle. Clearly if opprtunities come along which need to be grabbed or if responsibilities have to be met, then saying yes would be more appropriate.

      Maybe your friend would benefit by reading this post:-)

  4. Hi Arvind,
    Thank you. Learning/knowing when to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ is powerful. ‘Yes’ is such a positive word & opens up infinite possibilities. Say ‘no’ to distractions & ‘yes’ to everything else.
    be good to yourself

  5. Interesting. I wrote a post once about wanting to be a person of YES. Not a yes woman as you describe it, but more in the sense of seeing opportunities that life offered me and saying yes to them before I talked myself out of it. I don’t have any problem saying no when it feels like too much or like something I don’t want to do. So many people say yes, and then, just like you describe, are not happy about it. They either don’t follow through, or they follow through with resentment. Not good either way. Much better to pause and listen inside first before saying yes or no. Great article!

    • Galen, clearly there is a huge difference between saying YES to life and all its opportunities and saying NO to anything that’s likely to distract from the full and joyous living of that life.

      The trick is to say YES to the right things so as not to turn down any life enhancing opportunities.

      One way of doing this is to “listen” into yourself – and see what feels right – a yes or a no.

      Galen, have a very happy life:-)

  6. Hi Arvind,
    Great article. I used to struggle with saying “no”–not actually saying it, but with the feelings of guilt for not being able to do what someone else wants me to. I no longer struggle with these feelings. I might feel bad for an instant, but quickly remind myself that I am not saying no to the other person, I am saying yes to me. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

    • Lisa, glad to know you have let go of those crushing feelings of guilt.

      Guilt is just a way of punishing yourself – we feel we deserve to be punished for something, so we beat up ourselves with our internal dialogue.

      Great way of reframing – just remember that you are saying YES to yourself. Guilt? What guilt?

  7. Rosemary says

    Hi Arvind, you are such a kind person that I’m delighted to see this post from you. I have only known you for less than a year but I can already see that you are one of life’s natural ‘givers’…but if you give all the time then some part of your own core eventually begins to deplete. I know…because I lived like that for many years until eventually I found that when I looked inside there was ‘nobody home’. I had lost all sense of myself which was counterproductive to me and to those closest to me. It was a painful lesson…but a valuable one on the growth curve, and I’ve never looked back. What I discovered is that I have so much more ‘value’ to give to others when I offer it from a place of ‘no resistance’ inside myself. It’s funny that you should write this post at the moment as I’m reading a book called ‘Finding Your Own North Star’ by Martha Beck, for my lifecoaching course, in which she teaches about listening to our ‘essential self’ rather than our ‘social self’. She explains how we eventually resist strongly those demands on us that take us off course and away from our inner ‘North Star’. Much love and light to you Arvind and thanks for this reminder.

    • Arvind Devalia says

      Hi Rosemary, you clearly know me well:-)

      I am glad that you have now learnt to focus on yourself and are now putting yourself first in the nicest possible way.

      I am sure that throught your coaching, you’ll enable many people to find their own “north star”.

      Good luck!

  8. Arvind,
    I think in general, people associate “no” with something negative..yet no can be a powerful tool when used in the way you describe here. I say yes! to all that is nourishing, life enriching, inspiring, encouraging..I say yes! to heart connections and quality experiences..and in saying yes! clearly then acting upon it..”no” to all else is easy.

    • Arvind Devalia says

      Joy, thanks for the reminder that NO can be a powerful too.

      Continue to say YES to all that’s good in life:-)

  9. Hi Arvind–

    I agree with you. I’m all about whittling life down to it’s essentials and that means saying no more often so you can say yes to the really important things. If you do that consistently, you will have the time–and energy–to make good things happen. Not only for yourself, but for others.

    • Arvind Devalia says

      Cheryl, welcome to my blog – and thanks for sharing your link too. Amazing how we all think along similar lines:-)

      It’s time to make happen those things that REALLY matter!

  10. Arvind: I think you make a great post. We have to determine what our priorities are and make sure the things we are doing on an everyday basis line up. Great advice and post.

    • Arvind Devalia says

      Sibyl, by getting clear of what our priorities we can naturally learn to say YES to only those things that truly matter to us.

      Thanks for the reminder.

  11. This is a lesson that has taken me many years to learn. What I found was that it wasn’t just the over-commitment of my time that was a problem, it was the psychological load of all that commitment. It made me reluctant to make and keep the commitments I really needed to be doing (family, home, self). I think there’s just a natural limit to how much commitment we can take on.

    When Jesus was asked which of the commandments was the greatest, he said (Mark 12:30-31): “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

    The youth minister at the church I grew up in did his doctoral thesis on this passage, and said that in the original Greek for this, the better translation for “like” is “the same”. In other words, loving your neighbor as yourself is the same as loving God — it’s how you put it into action. He also said that it’s very important that he didn’t just say “love your neighbor”, but “love your neighbor as yourself”, i.e., you have to take care of yourself FIRST before you can really be of service to anyone.

    To give money to the needy, you have to have it first. You can’t really care for the sick if you’re sick yourself.

    Unfortunately, not everyone takes “no” well, especially when, from their perspective, “It’ll only take a minute.” The problem is, a) a minute is usually really at least five, and b) if you have dozens or hundreds of people making such requests, it’s still impossible. Best just to do as you suggest and say “no” to everyone, at least for a while.

    • Arvind Devalia says

      Scott, welcome to my blog and thanks for sharing your input above. The bible has a lot to teach us, especially if we interpret it correctly. The bit about loving yourself and taking care of yourself first is very important.

      There is a lot to be said about the psychological overload on us. So many of us go through life with this nagging feeling of things that have not been done yet.

      Scott, I wish you well on your journey of self-care.

  12. Arvind: Really interesting post. I can see why it is so important to make certain you are taking care of your needs and prioritizing the things that are your important to you. I think a lot of times people put everything else in front of what they want, but it is important to also include yourself on your priority list.


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