Sometime last year, I wrote an article entitled ‘The Magic of the Yes’. It pretty much stated all the reasons it would be a life-changing experience to say Yes to new experiences, new friends, new challenges, to seize the day and grab the bull by the horns. Over months of reflection though, while I still strongly believe that our default answer to life should be a deep, resounding Yes, I’ve come to realize there are certain things we need to learn to say No to as well.
‘Elegance is refusal’, Coco Chanel once said and I’ve come to understand what she meant. To live a life you love, a life you can be proud of and look back on without any trace of regret, you need to leave some things behind. Here’s my list. You should make one for yourself too.
- Say no to harmful substances. This is the most obvious. There are some things in life that can give you a heady rush but a bad fall, and it’s just not worth it. Examples– Drugs. Too much liquor. And umm, bad boys?
- Say no to bad food. Life is too short to scarf down canned food, fast food, junk food, and basically anything that is not natural and nourishing. You think your body will never know the difference, but it does– and you don’t want to regret it by getting sick, having a bad mood or feeling weak when you are supposed to be in the pink of health, enjoying every moment. So yes, spend the extra cash on your proper nutrition. That is one expense you’ll never regret.
- Say no to empty conversations. If it’s gossip about other people, gleeful accounts of somebody else’s mistakes or downfall, a stream of name dropping and bragging, or random nonsense small talk with people you can’t truly connect with, just avoid it. Spend your time with people who broaden your horizons, feed your imagination and enrich your soul.
- Say no to fake friends. There are ‘friends’ who are only your friends when times are good—either they ride on the winds of your success, enjoy freebies, social media attention, or benefit from you in some way. There are also ‘friends’ who are only your friends when times are bad—they cannot handle seeing you do better and secretly resent it when you are living a good life. Lastly, there are ‘friends’ who are neither of these, but are simply not good people. They drain the life out of you, backstab and bitch about others, and just aren’t a healthy influence. All of these people do not need to be in your life, and it’s time to cut them loose.
- Say no to one-sided relationships. It is one thing to go the extra mile for love, to bear hardships and whatever else, to make extra efforts to make a person feel special, to understand moods and quirks and bad days, bad months, or even a bad year. It is quite another to keep doing this and not receive enough in return– to be taken for granted, played with, set aside, talked down to or ignored. It’s really very simple. Choose people who choose you.
- Say no to being too busy to enjoy life. Since we really aren’t sure how much time we have in this world, stop procrastinating and start enjoying life. Do what you’ve always dreamed of. Yes, you can be busy. But sometimes ‘busy’ becomes an excuse and a fallback for not taking that long deserved vacation, for not spending enough time with your family, for not getting out there to meet new people, for not learning new things like languages or hobbies, for not starting a business of your own, for not really living. Because really living requires courage, and passion, and energy, and love. So what’s it gonna be?
- Say no to settling for less than you deserve. This applies to everything. If you are not getting the customer service you deserve or paid for, then say so. If you are not getting the love and care you give, then go. If you are not getting the respect you earned through your work, or simply for being who you are, then leave. Enough with the ‘puede na (this will do)’. Life is too short to make do with scraps and crumbs. If you deserve better, believe it and go get it.
- Say no to status quo. Do not be afraid to rock the boat once in a while, because the only way to remain relevant in this world is to change. Do not keep doing the same thing but expecting a different result. There is always a better way, there is always room for improvement. Keep setting the bar higher for yourself and know that you have the capability to surpass even your wildest dreams.
- Say no to ugly clothes. This column wouldn’t be called Kikay and you wouldn’t even be reading this article if you don’t appreciate the importance of good aesthetics. And to add to living out your full potential, make sure you always look your best anywhere you go by only wearing what really, really looks good on you. I mean c’mon— surely you know that a trend overkill usually makes people look like roadkill? So if you’re going to open your wallet and spend money anyway, it better be to pay for only the very best you can afford. Never mind if you have fewer things and simpler clothes, as long as anything you put on makes you look like a million bucks.
- Say no to anything that doesn’t light you up from the inside out. Once upon a time, an organizing consultant named Marie Kondo came up with the ‘KonMari’ method of tidying up, and it became a runaway hit. The basic principle is that you keep only what ‘sparks joy’ in your home and in your life. You are supposed to pick up the object, study how it makes you feel, and if it brings back a happy memory or is simply something you love, then keep it and find a proper place for it. Everything else needs to be discarded. And yes, this does not only apply to things but to the rest of your life too. Make room and free up space for only those that matter. The rest of it is just noise.
So you see? While there is magic in Yes, there can also be elegance in No.
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