The art of no

The two-letter word you should practice saying more this year.

This year (and every year) you should carve out time to do what excites you, moves you and makes you happy. Too often we get so bogged down in expectations and obligations that we forget to stop and reconsider what we’re saying yes to and why.

Nova Scotians are always praised for being friendly, going out-of-our-way-for-strangers types, which is all well and good, unless the person you’re getting out of the way of for every other thing that comes up is yourself. If your first instinct when someone piles an extra helping of bullshit on your plate is to smile tightly and thank them, then you are not at the dinner party you deserve. And it is definitely not hygienic. (Also, how the hell did you get here in the first place? A special love for the poop emoji?) This year, I urge you to practice saying no to the things you need to. While at first it might seem startling to the people around you who are accustomed to wiping their feet on the doormat of your heart, anyone who cares about your well being will be happy you’re saying yes to yourself for once instead.

This doesn’t mean you’re only doing fun things for the rest of your life and forget dealing with the hard or annoying parts of your existence. It means that if every bone in your body is screaming “no,” you don’t want to pick up the slack of your lazy co-worker, or “no,” you don’t want to sit through a lunch with a toxic friend, or “no,” you don’t want to lend money to your brother who never seems to pay you back, then say it loud and proud—do as Shonda Rhimes decrees in her new memoir Year of Yes—and say yes to saying no. Pave the way for the things you actually do want to say yes to. What you learn might just surprise you.

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