The Joy in Saying “No”.

I wasn’t planning on writing a post today but this topic has been on my mind lately and I felt inspired to share…

Most of us are constantly on the move. Up early to get ready for work, scarfing down some cereal or a granola bar while we get our shoes on, grab our cell phones and haphazardly pierce our ear with the hoop that had been dangling on our sweater (does this only happen to me?) After hours of work (sometimes mind-numbing, sometimes excruciatingly difficult), we might be lucky enough to quickly eat some lunch (if not spending the entire break catching up on other work) before running right back to the daily grind.

Fast forward to rushing home (many times via a crowded, stressful and time-sucking commute), trying to balance pots of hot food, and chowing down on dinner before starting chores/errands/homework/work brought home.

It is amazing that more people don’t die from physical and/or emotional exhaustion. As many of you know, I could talk all day about how capitalism is literally killing us, the planet and the future of our collective happiness. But for today, I wanted to share what has personally made me feel like a less stressed, more relaxed and happier person.

Ready for it?


The blogging world is an inspirational one, filled with recipes, goal-sharing and stories of multi-tasking, awesome folks that live life to the fullest! It can also be a stressful world, making you feel pressured to do a million things at once, go on amazing adventures everyday and still have time to make a three-course vegan dinner. Eep.

It is easy to forget that doing too much is actually a bad thing, not a source of joy. Capitalism has robbed us of what it really means to be “productive”, “successful”, and “happy” (which I plan to discuss in a later post).

We need to re-claim our sanity, our health and our lives. And one of the first steps is learning when to say no.

I listened to a great talk by Danielle LaPorte on the World’s Biggest Summit last week and something she said really stuck with me. She suggested throwing away those to-do lists and start making to-not-do ones. I don’t think I am ready to give up my highly organized, sometimes spreadsheet-ed to-do lists just yet, but saying “no” more often is something I want to try.

I thought of all the things I would like to say “no” to. Some were things that I can’t get rid of right now (paying our rent, working while in school and being continually poor). But some were quite fluid, with some room for change (not having enough time with my husband, not giving myself enough care, spending too much time inside and attending unnecessary social obligations).

I began to envision these problems fading away (and maybe even dissolving completely!) and I felt better already. Not enough time with my husband? I will schedule “couple’s time” throughout the week; no chores, no work. Not enough self-care in my life? I will plan pampering activities that make me happy (such as painting my nails, dancing to some great tunes in my underwear and taking myself on a coffee date). Needing some more time outside? I will re-instate our after-dinner walks (which are strongly recommended in Ayurveda – double win!) and spend some time on the weekends reading by the redwoods. Social obligations that feel too stressful? I will decline invitations that make me feel anxious and remember that good friends will understand I need more time for myself.

So there you have it, I saw exactly what I needed to do in order to feel more joyful. I was raised to always take care of others, to never say no and to make sure I was never, ever being impolite so this journey is not an easy one for me. But it is super important that I learn to make more time for myself, lean more toward joy and less toward sadness and (as Davidji always says) “let go what no longer serves us.”

Today I was supposed to go to a regional conference on Marxism. The tickets were already bought and I was expected to be there. In addition, my dear friend wanted me to go see The Black Power Mixtape with her (which, by the way, looks awesome!) As much as I wanted to do both of these things (and keep being busy + productive), I knew I shouldn’t. I started getting sick yesterday, my body holding out until my stressful week was over until finally sucummbing to a cold.

The old me would have felt bad about cancelling plans, pushed on through with a 10-hour Saturday and gotten even more sick by Monday. But you know what? This time I said no. I told my friend + my husband that I wouldn’t be leaving the house today.


And most importantly, I gave myself permission.

Permission to watch a Roseanne marathon (she is my working-class tv hero!)

Permission to take a nap after breakfast

Permission to drink lots of white tea (go antioxidants!)

Permission to cuddle with my kitty and have cat-lady conversations with her

Permission to listen to a lecture while giving my face (and sinuses) a lovely peppermint steam.

Permission to not answer the phone

Permission to be grumpy, and to be alright with that


Permission to enjoy the moment, just for what is was


I cannot stress to you how much this recharged my body + soul. Although I am still not feeling well, the compassion + love I gave myself today filled me with the most comforting, heart-warming joy.

So next time you are feeling stressed, sad or depleted…

Ask yourself, what can you say “no” to?


“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.” – Chinese proverb



9 thoughts on “The Joy in Saying “No”.

  1. You just read my mind! I just wrote a piece myself that was an article/blog post/private journal entry about living your purpose and the stress that ensues when you aren’t living your truth. I then asked for a sign that I was on the right track. Thanks for being that sign! 🙂

  2. Good for you!!! WAY too often we just say ‘NO’ to ourselves and not to anyone else…. I have been experimenting with scrapping the “to-do” list for the last couple of weeks and I have to admit I feel way more relaxed in control. I work from home, have 2 little kids, and my husband works away and I would make these ridiculous lists that no one could accomplish and feel very unsuccessful at the end of the day. So far i haven’t forgotten anything earth-shatteringly important, lol!

  3. Lovely and important post. Thank you!

    Also, Roseanne=best thing ever. We spent two class sessions talking about Roseanne in the Media Literacy class I’m teaching! So many lightbulbs went off about how she was the best and last representation of the working-class on TV!

  4. What a lovely reminder on how to take care of what matters! My sweetie and I are also fans of evening walks which I fear we’ll slack on as the evenings darken so early.

    I will say no to obligations, chores that can wait, self-inflicted deadlines and negative self-talk.

    I will say yes to more connection with my loved ones and art time for me.

  5. Pingback: There’s Something Happening Here … | Be Inspired

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