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The Art of Saying “No”

on April 3, 2012

Has everyone seen the movie “Yes Man”? If not, don’t worry, you aren’t missing much. But you are missing the set-up for my blog post.

The plot of “Yes Man” tells the story of a bank employee named Carl (Jim Carrey) whose life is plummeting following his divorce. A friend tells him to go to a self-help seminar by an inspirational guru who encourages everyone to say “YES” – to everything. He goes from being a “no” man to being a “yes” man, saying yes to everything that comes his way.


Carl finds that while it is great to be open to new experiences, saying yes to everything just isn’t possible. Or healthy.

People our age have a difficult time saying no to anything. We’re experiencing new things every day and try to take in everything we can. So we say yes to working an extra five hours a week in order to move up in our careers. We say yes to staying out all night to prove that we’re still fun, no matter how tired we are. We say yes to spending time with and worrying about people who only bring us down. Because saying no feels selfish and saying no feels like we’re being “no” people.

Here is the thing – you should be kind and patient. You should be devoted. You should be determined to accomplish amazing things. But life is too short to spend time doing things that don’t make you happy. It’s too short to be polite and sacrifice your own feelings. Say yes, over and over, to things that make your life better.

It may seem a bit naive for me to say that you shouldn’t do anything you don’t want to do. For instance, I don’t want to pay my bills or take out the trash or spend time sitting in traffic. Obviously, these are just a part of life. But the parts of life I can control, like how I spend my Saturday nights or where I want to be in five years? The first thing I do when I think about the future is to think whether or not I will be happy in the picture I’m imagining.

Say yes to trying sushi for the first time. Say yes to people who make you laugh. Say yes to a job you love.

Sit down and think about how you are spending your time. Think about whether the things you’re choosing are really making you happy. And if they aren’t? It’s time to make some changes. Because life if way too short to be anything but happy.

Jess Brown studied journalism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP ’11).  She now lives in Pittsburgh where she is the copywriter for Snap! Retail.

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3 responses to “The Art of Saying “No”

  1. Tim says:

    FINALLY! Someone hold enough to vote “no”! Thank you for posting this.

  2. Dee says:

    Great post!!!

  3. […] wonderful Guest Blog Post from Jess Brown. She is a seasoned guest blogger, and we are thrilled to have her share her gift of optimism with us.  If you would like to […]

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