I have always been one of those people who say, “YES” to most everything. I think it’s my way of making absolutely sure that everyone likes me. And of course, deep down it's probably because of the struggle I have liking myself. I am the very model of a person pleaser, if ever there was one. I’m drawn to doing more in order to avoid feeling “less than.” Sound familiar?
During the month of December Pre-Covid, I hit the wall. I couldn't bear another stressful holiday season trying to keep up with the tasks I always do at that time of the year. I kept asking myself the same questions over and over, "Why am I putting myself through this pain and anxiety? Does it really make me a better person to live in a constant state of running myself ragged trying to do everything?"
Does it really make a difference whether I go the extra mile? Will the world around me come to a complete stop if I set reasonable boundaries?
So for the holiday season I did something completely radical. I said, “NO” instead of “YES.” I didn’t bake banana bread for all my next-door neighbors. Instead of homemade ice cream for the annual family holiday celebration, I bought it from the grocery store. There were also no gifts for my daughter’s teachers or photo cards for friends and family. And you know what? I'm here to tell you that the world didn’t come to an end. Mass chaos did not ensue. In fact, I'm not even sure anyone noticed. Ok, my daughter missed my holiday cookies but in the end she was perfectly fine without them!
So what did I learn? For one thing, I learned that saying no actually allowed me to do a better job with the tasks that were non-negotiable. I wasn’t stressed out, angry and resentful. I had more energy. Actually I felt great. I had the time to make it to my favorite yoga classes; I slept more and ate better (admittedly not being surrounded by sugar cookies helped a lot.) It was a total win. For the first time ever I didn’t have to white knuckle my way through December. And you know what? That is a holiday tradition that is well worth keeping.
The truth is I have always moved fast. And you should see me after a cup of coffee. However, did you know that you actually are more productive and much more calm if you SLOW DOWN? Hundreds of books have been written about the art of paying attention but this short article on Forbes.com really spoke to me. The suggestions are easy to follow and make a whole lot of sense. Saying "No" has been a huge step in my journey toward a calmer life.