Say NO when you want to say NO!

In any situation speak what your heart tells you to. Not what your mind recommends you to.
This will ensure that you don’t leave any situation in Life untouched by your perspective and you live your Life on your terms. Happily. Let’s understand this better. We are forever saying no when we must be saying yes. And saying yes when we must be saying no.
Take an example. You visit someone. And your host asks for coffee, tea or beverages. You wouldn’t mind a coffee. But you end up saying no. Here’s another one. Your boss asks you if it is fine for you to stay back after work to discuss the upcoming budget meetings. You know you have promised to drive the kids around and buy them ice-cream today. You actually want to say no, but you end up saying yes. Right from these simple, often banal, situations to more important, Life-related choices, we are making uncalled for compromises. This is why many of us are perpetually unhappy. Think about it. A large part of your Life has been spent pleasing others__a father, mother, siblings, in-laws, bosses, children, neighbors. You have become a ‘pleasing slave’__one who is addicted to pleasing, being nice, others at the cost of one’s own happiness. It is an addiction. It is suicidal. Resultantly, you are not living your Life. You are just suffering. Stop this nonsense. Now. If you want to work in way that you feel enriched, fulfilled and productive, say what you are feeling, not what is merely ‘appropriate’ in the given situation or context.
We used to work with a client. A large corporate here in India. Their CEO, a wonderful human being, is personally very close to us. We worked with that company as consultants for over a decade. But in those years, we had become part of the furniture in their organization, we had stopped adding value, because we had stopped speaking up, preferring to be “nice” to the CEO who, effectively, is a very poor manager. Finally, some years ago, we quit that engagement. A few weeks ago, the CEO approached us through another common professional source, asking if we would be interested in engaging with the company again. In the period when have not been engaged with the company, the CEO had helped us with many challenges we had been faced with in Life. Yet, despite our deep gratitude to this CEO, we declined to re-engage. The CEO called me. And expressed his displeasure at our refusal. I replied: “I must confess this may be coming across to you as if we are professionally arrogant. But I want you to know Sir that if we don’t operate from our inner core, from joy, we can’t create value in your organization. And your style of working is not compatible with ours. Hence we will not be happy. Being happy is critical to our living. We want to be alive to each moment, not dying, feeling suffocated in an environment such as the one you lead.” I said this with a straight face. It must have been devastating for this CEO perhaps to hear this. But he later sent me a text saying, he appreciated my being honest. Another friend, a world-class entrepreneur, who I had added on my personal Facebook page, started using my wall for promoting his brands. I ‘unfriended’ him on Facebook and sent him a mail saying while I appreciate his genius (he is one), I do not quite accept his treating my personal space as his commercial billboard and also told him that his brands don’t need any of these small-time publicity gimmicks. He wrote back, after several weeks of silence, how much he valued my views.
So, when you speak up and share what your heart is experiencing, you not only enhance your happiness quotient, you also create value in your circle of influence. Now choose: do you want to be in a constant ‘pleasing-mode’ and so be always unhappy or do you want to live happily forever? It’s a no-brainer!

Always say ‘no’ when you have to say ‘no’!

Being decisive about what you don’t want to do, or what you don’t want, in Life, is far more important than knowing what you want or may want to do.  
A young friend, who is barely 20, and is an adopted child of her foster parents, recently reminded me of this opportunity in staying decisive. She said her foster mother asked her, when she was seven years old, if she wanted to meet her biological mother. My friend says she decided back then that she did not want to meet her biological parents. Reflecting back on her choice, my friend says that her decision remains unchanged. “Why would I want to visit my biological parents? This is my family and I have the best parents in the world,” she declares without a trace of dilemma.
That clarity in thinking is as infectious as it is inspiring. Many of our relationship issues exist in the first place because of our inability to say ‘no’ to people over what they say or do to us. Worse, we end up saying ‘yes’ when we need to be saying ‘no’ – and we often say ‘no’ when want to say ‘yes’!
Why do we struggle to say ‘no’ to people who are being unreasonable with us? One of the primary, often subconscious, considerations is that we don’t want to ‘hurt’ them. Also to speak your mind to someone is often a disconcerting thought. Nobody wants to be seen as cold, in-the-face and inflexible. So, at the cost of our own discomfort, we end up trying to nice to people. Which is why we never say ‘no’ to people who end up being rude to us, to people who are opportunistic with us and to people who take us for granted.
Sometimes, in close family relationships, we end up having to face emotional blackmail – played out willfully or subconsciously. A mother, who is congenitally manipulative, may insist that her children overlook her divisive nature because she has toiled hard to deliver and raise them. Or a sibling may say that he deserves to be treated better – and may even seek material benefits – because he was deprived of them when he was growing up. A spouse may say that she has sacrificed more for the family than her partner has and so she will demand that her partner recognize – and reward – her in a more demonstrative way than is being done.
We can go on analyzing why we don’t say ‘no’ – and, honestly, we will go on discovering and inventing newer reasons to justify ourselves. But the way to look at this opportunity is to actually consider the value that saying ‘no’ to certain people can bring to our lives.

First, saying ‘no’ to someone means you are defining who you are and are setting out a framework – a code of conduct, if you like – for the way you wish to be treated. Second, this clarity, combined with you not having to forsake your real self, spares you the suffering. For, when you are living Life under restraint, not being who you truly are, behind all the glossy and “accommodative” exterior, you are suffering deep within. Third, when you are not suffering, you are free and happy! It is as simple as that. I am not sure my young friend employed these criteria, in such a structured manner, in making her choice not to see biological mother. But, from what she is feeling now – at being loved for and cared for by her foster family – her choice is indeed governed by what’s making her happy! That’s where the nub lies for you too – if saying ‘no’ will make you happy in any situation, with any person, simply say ‘no’. Don’t think. Just say ‘no’. Because, happiness also comes from being able to not do what you don’t want to do! 

3 Words to Bliss: Yes. No. Peace.

The three most practical, magical, profound words, in any language, are also the simplest. They are Yes, No and Peace.

As long as we say Yes when we must say so and say No when we must say no, and as long as we work for Peace and never fight ego battles, we will always be blissful.


The trouble is when we end up swapping yes for a no, or vice versa, because we are caught up in playing good and looking good than feeling good. Right from saying no to a visitor who arrives unannounced at your workplace or home, when you are busy with other priorities, to saying yes to goofing off with the family because you want to catch up on email on Sunday night, ahead of a busy week, we have a skewed sense of how to think, live and work. Resultantly, we end up getting stressed out over situations which otherwise could have been very peaceful. Just consider this: had you politely told off your surprise visitor, wouldn’t you have been more peaceful? Or had you chosen fun over mail at home, opting to wake up early Monday morning and work while the family was still asleep, wouldn’t you have been more at peace?

These are simple, seemingly innocuous moments in an otherwise more complicated Life. But it is important to recognize that how you live the small moments of your Life determine how you live Life on the whole.

Another dimension of our lives where peace is a casualty is the battles we choose to fight. In fact, as someone said so wisely, the best way to win a battle is to not fight at all. And even if you must fight, work for peace than fight an ego battle. Many a time, we get caught up in situations where the ego comes in the way of a resolution. The ego feeds on fights. So, whenever you differ with someone on any issue, and your disagreement, for whatever reason, turns acrimonious, then work for peace. Don’t let your ego feed on the fight. Know that just as you are entitled to your opinion, others are too. And if constructive confrontation__the ability to resolve conflict in a civilized, dignified manner__fails, then there’s no point being in the battle at all. When you don’t fight, when you don’t contest, when you don’t mind being ‘defeated’, how can you not be at peace?


So, if it is bliss that you are looking for, keep it simple: Say Yes when you must yes and say No when you must say no. And don’t ever let your ego lead you into a fight where, among many other things, you may well lose your inner peace!