This is a post milestone – 300th published post (with more in the draft or junk bin). That averages out to four posts a week since I started, which isn’t too bad since I usually don’t do weekend posts.
The subject of today’s post is “Learning to say no.”
First, I want to talk about saying yes. About 7 or 8 years ago I read the book Yes Man by Danny Wallace. Like usual, I found it at my local library. The book is true story about a guy who constantly said no to friends and opportunity and how his life changes as he committed to saying “yes” to any opportunity or activity. It was later made into a crappy movie with Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel, but like most movies from books, it doesn’t hold a candle and strays fairly far from the books storyline. The movie can be described as basically taking the interesting concept of saying “yes” to everything and turning it into a Jim Carrey vehicle. Anyways, saying yes to things can be good. It can open ourselves up to new opportunities and life directions we may not have seen. It can also contribute to people liking us by finding us agreeable to do someone else’s agenda. In most cases, I think we often say yes too frequently.
Your kid asks for something they don’t need at the store; we say “yes.” Your boss asks you to pick up a shift for a drama-filled worker who flakes out a lot; we say “yes.” You are asked to give up your Saturday to volunteer at a swim meet when you already had some tentative plans to start your garden; we say “yes.” I think we are too worried about what other people think of us and it adversely impacts our time, health, finances and family life.
We need to learn to say “no” more. Yes, we will hurt our kids’ feelings by not letting them have that ice cream cone or toy at the store to shut them up, but it saves both money and maybe prevents them from childhood obesity or childhood entitlement. We need to learn to say “no” at work to all the bagels, donuts, pizza and cookies people bring in weekly for birthdays, company anniversaries, company-sponsored lunches and just ’cause. If you get used to removing sugar and grains from your diet, intermittent fasting and saying no to this crap becomes a lot easier, especially when you see how awful they make you feel afterwards.
We need to stand up for ourselves and our own time, putting a high value on personal freedom and family time instead of putting other peoples’ requests on our time at a higher value. Volunteering is a personally and socially rewarding and valuable experience, but losing out on a valuable Saturday or Sunday with the family is a high expense. If you feel it is worthwhile and valuable, perhaps get the family involved as well and teach valuable lessons and experiences to the kids. Alternatively, don’t be afraid to say No and do something for yourself or your family. It’s not selfish to want to spend quality time with your spouse or kids; that is the most critical relationship and needs constant nourishment and attention to keep things strong. The church bake sale will survive without you.
Let’s not forget all the crap we’re asked to do for our kids activities, birthday parties and school. I appreciate the fact that school budgets are tight and fundraisers for the sports team seem to be part of doing business, but don’t be afraid to say No. We don’t buy the cookie dough or holiday cards or whatever from our kids’ school. We push back on “mandatory” fundraisers for school or sports teams, or if our kids want to be a part of the team we’ll support their efforts in doing it themselves. Now that the kids have allowances, they are going to decide if they want to attend birthday parties of their friends, and if so, if they plan to purchase a gift with their own money. We’ve had enough of buying crap that we wouldn’t even buy for our own kids, for some kid we don’t even know.
I’m fairly certain I’ll come off like an old no-fun curmudgeon with this post, but I feel so many people fall into the nice-guy or nice-girl trap of saying “Yes” and then bitching about having to pay for something or spend their time fulfilling some obligation they didn’t want to do to begin with. Stop with the covert contract (if I say Yes, they’ll like me more) and take ownership of your own time and money. Like my post about our finances, stop worrying about what other people think of you and focus more inward. If you want to do something like spend the day building a park or trail, by all means do it. But don’t feel obligated to partake in something just because you’re being pressured by the PTO or your coworker or whoever. Stand up for yourself and say “No” once in awhile; you’ll be much happier.
…but you should usually say Yes to sex.