The concept of service and contribution is vital if we are to evolve as a society, but it is equally important that we value the limits of our personal resources. Everyone has the right to discern when a request is draining precious time, energy, money or emotional capacity. Especially when those resources could be used in more fulfilling or meaningful ways.
This word is especially critical for those who strive to be “good”, “approved of” or “indispensable”. Whereas Yes is the key to adventure, growth and connection, No is the foundation of self-empowerment. It is a vital ingredient in a life of purpose, fulfillment, authenticity and well-being.
There are four situations, in particular, where No is a perfectly healthy and empowered response:
▪ When you are only doing it because you “should”
▪ When you are fulfilling another’s desire to the detriment of your own
▪ When you are depressed, depleted or physically ill
▪ When your input would equate to “rescuing” or enabling unhealthy behavior
As civilization has evolved and our daily lives have changed, we have come to rely almost exclusively on man-made concepts of time — the calendar and the clock. In the process, we have divorced ourselves from the natural rhythms of our bodies, our lives, nature and the universe.
In recent years, this warped perception of time has been exacerbated by the internet, smart phones and the rise of the instant gratification monkey. We have come to believe that if we want something, we simply get the right people to do the right thing, using the right method, right now. If life — as it is wont to do — doesn’t deliver according to our expectations, our first reaction is to try more things, pull more strings, make more noise. Do. Do. Do.
But here’s the truth: Life doesn’t give a sh*t about your busy schedule. Many of your goals and objectives are interwoven with the lives of others and the timing of many elements will always remain completely out of your control. In addition, everything in nature ebbs and flows. As a natural being, you are constantly subject to life’s rhythms; the phases of activity and of rest; of growth and reflection; of deconstruction and regathering.
You can, and will, enjoy greater well-being if you can learn to recognize and surrender to the natural flow of life. When life is running too slow for you, simply Wait … and learn how to lose yourself in joyful distraction.
You are human and, therefore, you have messed up, made mistakes and done some pretty nasty things. That’s okay, but take responsibility for it.
This word is not only an expression of compassion and remorse; when you say it sincerely, it reveals that you are able to be self-accepting, self-forgiving and courageous. Put simply, Sorry liberates you from the strangulating need to be “right” or “perfect” in order to feel worthy.
Studies have shown that gratitude is a powerful tool for greater well-being. Taking time each day to be consciously grateful can enhance psychological and physical health, stimulate better sleep and even help you form better friendships.
Integrating Thank You into your day does not mean mindlessly reciting the things you think you “should be” grateful for (sometimes you’re just not that thankful for your house, or family, or job). It’s about acknowledging the things — however trivial — for which you can give sincere thanks (chocolate, sunshine, a soft pillow or the fact you had extra patience today). There is no judgement on what you are thankful for; it’s about being sincere and feeling the flow of gratitude throughout your body. A journal such as the 5 Minute Journal may help you realize how much gratitude you can discover in your daily life.
As researcher Brené Brown tells us “vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love”. But too often we shy away from vulnerability because it has somehow come to be regarded as the opposite of strength.
When you allow your pain, struggle or suffering to be fully revealed in a safe space, your experience becomes more authentic. This in turn makes your personal insights deeper, your connections with others (and yourself) more truthful and your eventual healing more profound. Most importantly, being comfortable with your own vulnerability allows you to ask for, and accept, Help from the healthiest sources — unconditionally loving friends and family, wise mentors or trusted professionals.
We like to believe that our opinions and beliefs are our own, but this is not necessarily the case. Becoming deeply, authentically aligned with your personal view of life is a long, complicated and ever-evolving process. And, as an inherently social creature, it is remarkably easy and natural to inherit (and repeat) the messages seen on television, or discussed at dinner parties, or heard at your school or place of worship. Of course, the modern echo chambers of social and mainstream media have further complicated our ability to discern our authentic beliefs from those that are unconsciously absorbed.
Questioning your viewpoints and beliefs is not wrong, disloyal nor sinful. In fact, constantly asking Why? — of yourself, and of others — is the only way to step out of the limiting view of your social conditioning, and into a world of expanded empathy, possibility and wonder.
Kim Forrester is an award-winning author, educator and in