The vast majority of us live in a 24/7 world. Our days do not begin and end within office hours. And after accounting for the optimal amount of sleep we all should be logging each night, that leaves about 72 hours each week to attend to our families, friends, chores, hobbies and passions. We live by our calendars and agendas, tirelessly scheduling everything we can possibly fit into this amount of time. But sometimes, the payoff is far greater when we deviate from the plan and simply say "no."
This quick, two-letter word can often be one of the hardest for us to say. In fact, research shows that we frequently agree to more than we truly want to because feeling overbooked and overwhelmed seems more comfortable in the moment than disappointing others. And it only gets harder when we have to say "no" face to face.
"One of our most fundamental needs is for social connection and a feeling that we belong," Dr. Vanessa Bohns, assistant professor of management sciences at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, told The Wall Street Journal. "Saying "no" feels threatening to our relationships and that feeling of connectedness."
Unfortunately, this desire to remain connected to everyone else often disconnects us from our true selves. We sacrifice our own needs and wants for the sake of social grace, a sacrifice that may not be worth it every time.
Throughout this "year of mindfulness," we have pondered what it means to live mindfully. One of the key elements focuses on our ability to feel what we feel -- both good and bad. When we are mindful, we are honest and accepting of how we feel in the present moment as opposed to working to resist, control or change it.
Truly being in tune with yourself involves knowing when you need to deviate from the norm for your own physical, mental and emotional well-being. Saying "no" to others ultimately begins with telling yourself that "no" is a viable option.
Here are five times you should quiet that inner desire to please others and, instead, listen for what will make you happy.
Need a little headspace? Skip happy hour.
Crowds, loud conversations and alcohol rarely help a person who is already feeling overstimulated -- introverts in particular. Check in with yourself at the end of the day and ask yourself what you really need once you clock out. If that answer involves a little peace, quiet and solitude, don't hesitate to head straight home. True friends will not only accept this aspect of your personality, but also understand that everyone needs a little "me" time every now and then.
Feeling physically exhausted? Give yourself the night off.
Even the most dedicated athletes have days that leave them feeling incredibly drained and worn out -- so much so that an evening workout isn't always in their best interest. Listen to your body and give it time to recuperate when it needs it rather than pushing through your scheduled class or training run just because you always go. Shift your priorities from following a routine to following your feelings. Indulging in a quiet evening at home and early bedtime will likely make the following day and workout that much better.
Can't hear yourself think? Create your "cave."
When rambling thoughts are getting the best of you, one of the best solutions is retreating to a quiet, relaxing space that will help you find a complete sense of calm. Design your "cave" within your home with simple, soothing and tech-free elements. Whether you need an entire room or just your favorite chair with a good book, having a set place at at the end of the day to escape all outside stressors can be the best medicine for a restless mind.
Had a rough week? Take a personal Friday night.
If you feel more excited by the idea of heading home, shutting out the world and just spending a relaxing night at home, go for it! Instead of feeling obligated to a late night of bar-hopping because everyone else wants to go, enjoy prepping a home-cooked meal and watching the latest episode of your favorite show you didn't catch live earlier in the week. Invitations to others are optional -- it's your free time, so decide how you want to spend it.
Just not in the mood? Simply say "no."
At the end of the day, you don't actually need a circumstantial reason to take a personal night. The only agenda you are truly obligated to is the one within yourself. Gracefully decline offers, shift a few weekday plans to the weekend, and revel in the joys of spending time in your space, your comfort zone, the place that makes you feel most mindful.
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