Think of the last time you told someone “yes” when you really wanted to say “no”. Saying “no” is difficult. Saying “No” could mean losing a friend, your job, your parents respect, scholarly support or someone/something we thought was valuable. It could even make others call you selfish but is that really selfish to stand up for what you believe in?
Happiness Rests Within the Word “No”
Since I was a kid until the age of 18, I’ve been telling people “yes”.
- My friends in grade school would ask me if it was okay for them to “be friends with you outside of school”. I had said yes, looking at the positive side thinking to myself “at least I have friends”.
- My parents at the age of 14 asked me if we could move back to their homeland, and I had responded “yes”. I had thought if my parents were happy “I will be happy”.
- When my dad asked me to wear the headscarf at the age of 16, I said “yes” because I thought “that’s the right thing to do”. Saying “No” was not an option but It was my fault it wasn’t an option.
I blocked myself from my own happiness. I was afraid to make my own choices, being the passenger of my body following others requests.
When I broke those chains, it had felt like a bolt of energy. Now I live to say “no”. I made real friends, I moved to South Korea to continue my studies and I took off my head scarf. My synthetic smiles changed to tomato colored chuckles and snorting.
Let me show you three reasons why saying no will make your life happier…
1. Saying No Shows That You Have Confidence
People tend to take advantage of a person who always says “yes”.
The people around you evaluate you with every action you take. If you know your worth, then saying “no” to a silly request or tiring task could go a long way. If you know when to say “no” in the workplace, it shows other people that you have other things, with more importance and need to tend to your job to complete things efficiently. Saying no to your family lets them realize that you have evolved into the person you want to be and not the person they carved you to be.
We need to acknowledge that not all people approach us with good intentions, so we need to be careful of our position. You should know how strong you are and how easy it is when you have the confidence to say “no”. I promise you, having power isn’t the amount of requests you can endure for others, rather it’s the amount of self-love you give yourself by rejecting others requests when you get that nudge in your gut.
An instance that made me feel very confident was when I stopped being friends with a girl who kept telling me what to think and what to believe. She told me that she was helping me because I was her friend. What she did was crush my self-esteem to boost hers. When I turned away from her, I found myself. Although, it was very difficult to do so, I let her go. When I did, I met people who were similar to me and who did nothing but support me. I did lose one friend but I found another. You lose one thing but you gain another.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony” – Ghandi
2. Saying No Allows New Opportunities to Come
There’s a common saying “out with the old and in with the new”. You don’t receive that opportunity simply through the continuation of a certain lifestyle. Rather, reorganizing your life clears space in your mind.
Organizing your room is very similar to reorganizing your life. You need to acknowledge what is useless, what doesn’t belong there and what has no significance to you anymore, and then you get rid of it. If you say “no” to what you don’t need, there is more room to accept what you do need. Like a new friend, a new weight-loss diet, a pet, a vacation, a lover or a job.
When you accept who you are, everything falls into place at its own pace.
When I turned away from my family expectations, wanting me stay in our homeland and live the normal life of a Muslim, it was hard. I had understood what was possible if I stopped following my parents footsteps and then I worked towards that new path. Although my parents were anxious about my decisions, I found a new path. This path was filled with open ended questions, adventures and new faces. I found myself building a life that was comfortable for me with the person of my choice. The small action of refusing my parents conservative culture is a going a long way with me.
If you prepare well, when you say “no”, you aren’t losing, you’re winning. So choose what has been bringing you down and come up with what you could replace it with. Say “yes” to what you want and need in your life because I’ve always believed that…
It’s better to regret what you’ve done rather than what you haven’t.
3. Saying “No” Creates a Future with Less Regrets
Every single person has a start and an end. We are given different environments and opportunities to grow. No matter how different we are from one another, it’s up to us to decide which trees you will swing on and which stairs you will climb. Those choices lead us to an uncertain future, where you think about your past and wonder why you couldn’t speak up.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference” – Robert Frost
People wake up with different reasons. Some wake up to feed their children, some to make money for their family and others just trying to understand which version of them can see the light.
It’s up to us whether we decide to put a mask and follow the easier path. There’s nothing wrong with it, if that’s that happiness you seek don’t let anyone stop you. But if you are tired of wearing that mask, take it off, tell the world you can’t stand what it’s done to you and take a new step for yourself. In the end we are the same, fighting for the same thing, a reason to stay strong and be happy.
Don’t let that happiness slip because of others, stand up for what you believe in and say “no”.
Khiriah Ayyad is freelance writer with a BA in Liberal Arts and MA in Inter-Asian NGO studies. She enjoys spending her free time writing short stories, advice articles about personal development and lifestyle specifically in South Korea. Khiriah also spends a massive amount of time tweeting about her love of coffee.