A lot has been said about “living intentionally”. Basically, you consider your choices and make the right ones for you based on how it impacts your quality of life. You don’t allow “accidents” to derail your life plans. You strive to live in the moment. There’s some other hippie-type stuff in there, but the big part of living intentionally – or what I prefer to think of as living on purpose – consists of one little word.
We’re trained to think of “No” as a bad word, a negative response, a rejection of who we are or what we want. But if you are making goals, or processing grief, or just overwhelmed with life’s options, it’s sometimes easier to define what we don’t want than what we do want.
Society pressures us to say yes all the time. Yes, I’ll work late. Yes, I’ll pick up your kids…again. Yes, you can go ahead even though I’ve been waiting here for an hour and a half. Yes, I’ll buy that gadget because it’s late at night and I’m lonely and I really think I need an automatic grape peeling machine.
We have to stop thinking about Yes in terms of money or feelings or even time. Saying “Yes” costs us in something far greater – energy. It takes energy to work the extra hours, take the long way home, wait in line needlessly, talk to salesmen. And spending your energy means that you won’t have the time or will power later to do the things you need to do.
You’re used to Time being finite. We all get the same 24 hours in a day. But what about Energy? That’s finite, too. It runs out. We get tired, used up, burned out. You can always make more money. The time will reset itself tomorrow. But energy is a hard-won commodity we shouldn’t part with so easily.
Saying “No” to non-essential things frees up your mental focus for the things that matter. It puts the burden of making everybody happy on someone else. It forces you to adhere to your goals and ignore the never-ending hype of society that who we are and what we do is not enough.
No is a powerful word. “No” isn’t being mean. It’s living with intention, on purpose, with choice. It doesn’t require an explanation, although we often feel guilted into providing one.
Learn to use “No,” as a complete sentence.