As humans, we don’t like denying ourselves things we want. This includes not only stuff we want to buy, but also increased ego based on how busy and committed we are, and even excesses like too much food or time spent in the electronic world.
When was the last time you told yourself ‘no’?
If you’re a parent, saying ‘no’ to your child is probably an everyday occurrence. No more unhealthy snacks, no more TV, no more staying up past bedtime, no going to a friend’s house before homework. The list could go on and on. We usually say no because we can see the negative consequences if we say yes. Sometimes we say no because we think it’s simply a good idea to go without getting everything you want in life.
As we reach adulthood, it seems like the no’s become fewer and the yes’s increase. We forget the value that comes from not having everything we want. We treat ourselves like spoiled children and indulge our every whim after an internal voice wears down any resolve with arguments as to why we should have it.
“To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.” –Bertrand Russell
Let’s look at why this is true.
More time is what it seems we all want. If we had 28 hours in a day instead of 24, how would we spend the extra four? More time on our phones? More episodes of our favorite TV shows? More commitments away from our homes and families? We don’t need 28 hours in a day, what we need is to say no to those things that are draining hours in our day that are not being spent on what is most important to us.
Most people want more money in their bank account. The only way to get it is to stop spending what you do have on stuff you don’t need. You could also pick up an extra job, but that won’t stop your spending. You have to say no to all the unnecessary purchases you buy because of want.
I used to want a bigger home, more space to put more stuff that I wanted. Maybe you’ve felt that way too. More space is one thing you’ll definitely have if you don’t indulge all your wants through unnecessary purchases. If you’ve already indulged yourself, consider returning items or donating to make the space you really want in your home.
We could probably all use more self-control. We may even want it, but you can’t buy character. As you start telling yourself ‘no’, self-control increases until you find yourself easily passing by your wants, or at the very least being in control when you decide to indulge in them. Say no to skipping your workout, no to eating the extra slice of cake and no to buying a cool looking gadget.
I’ve often thought about what life would be like if everyone agreed with everything I thought, said or did. Don’t I want that? Don’t we all want that validation that we are right? When others disagree with our decisions, our stance in life, they are telling us ‘no’, and it actually makes us happier in the long run. When we tell ourselves no, or others tell us no, it opens our mind to new possibilities and experiences, which increases our awareness and happiness.
I’m not sure many of us consciously want more gratitude in our lives. However, once we have it and recognize the feelings of contentment and peace it brings, it becomes something we want and strive for on a day-to-day basis. Cultivate gratitude by denying yourself frivolous wants and appreciating what you already have.
We all want happiness.
We are all driven by our want for happiness. Just like when we tell our children ‘no’, we are really looking out for their well-being and want them to be happy in the long run, even if it means denying them something they want in the present moment.
The same reasoning works for us as adults. Saying no to unnecessary things we want, whether it is stuff, unhealthy food, no exercise, debt or anything else that will not bring long-term happiness to our lives is important if we want to be truly content.
Go ahead, say ‘no’.
Photo Credit: In the Loupe Photography
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