The Power of No

No. A simple two-letter word we’re all familiar with. To some people, the word is so easy for us to say that that it’s become second-nature to them. To others, saying no is so difficult that just the thought of saying no directly at someone’s face is anxiety inducing.

Why do we hesitate to say no sometimes? Sometimes it’s because we don’t want to disappoint our friends. Sometimes we don’t want to reject others because we don’t want to be rejected ourselves. Sometimes it’s out of FOMO. Sometimes it’s out of the a spur of the moment decision where purchasing something made sense at the time.

Whatever the reason, some of us have a hard time saying no. And while it’s perfectly okay, sometimes even necessary, to say yes to something, in other situations it’s better to say no. Whether it’s trying out something that could be harmful to our health like dangerous drugs, purchasing something that has no benefit to our lives, or going to events and parties that leave us empty and bored, there are times where saying no is the best thing for us to do.

How can one say no and how do you it the”right way?” There are many ways to say no and they can be used for a variety of situations, to the point where saying no can be an art form. Here are just a few ways to say no:

  • Say no and mean it. When you say no, you can’t say it timidly and weakly. For example, if you’re in a situation where you can’t go to a party and you say no unconvincingly, your friends will give out counterarguments and it will further weaken your ability to refuse. When you say no, be brief and with intention.
  • Give them a reason. When saying no, it’s always good to have a reason why you’re saying no. It can be because you have an important project you have to attend to, it can be because you have priorities that are more worthy of your attention, it can be because you just don’t want to. Always give out a reason why when you say no.
  • An offer I can refuse. It’s best to weigh in the costs and benefits before saying no. Be sure you’re getting something out of the offer. Be wary of the sunk cost fallacy and remember if the decision is keeping in line with your values. If they don’t, then your answer should be no.
  • Maybe another time. Saying no doesn’t have to mean it has to be indefinite. Saying no can mean not right now. You can choose to reschedule your time with another person to another, more convenient date. Be careful with this approach, though. Others will expect you to take part of the rescheduled event and continually putting it off can come off as less nice than flatly saying no.
  • Anticipate and be preemptive. If you know someone is going to give you requests beforehand, such as a meeting or a group-up, let them know that you are busy and that you can’t take anymore requests before you give them the chance. That way they will be less disappointed and less likely to ask in the first place.

And these are a handful of ways you can say no. It won’t be easy at first if you’re used to saying yes all the time. Saying no takes practice and you have to be prepared when the situation comes. Remember that saying no is ultimately for your sake, not anyone else’s sake.

Pain vs. Suffering

pain:

1.physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc.

2.a distressing sensation in a particular part of the body

3.mental or emotional suffering or torment

suffering:

1.to undergo, be subjected to, or endure (pain, distress, injury, loss, or anything unpleasant)

2.to undergo or experience (any action, process, or condition)

(source: dictionary.com)

Whenever you have a casual conversation with someone, you ‘ll hear the words “pain” and “suffering” thrown out there as interchangeable terms meant to be synonymous with each other. What most people don’t know, however, is that those terms DO NOT mean the same thing.

When you feel pain, what you’re really feeling is your body responding to an external stimulus and it gives you a physical sensation or signal towards the event or situation. They can range from accidentally burning your hand in a stove, stepping on a Lego brick, migraines you feel on your forehead, or a whole variety of other situations. We all have to deal with pain in our lives. Living is, in and of itself, a painful experience, and we all have to face it.

However, what if I tell you that suffering doesn’t have to be a part of your life?

When you suffer, it’s not your body telling you that you’re suffering, it’s your mind telling you that. This is where your mind goes haywire and overwhelms you with bad thoughts and negative self-talk. Why did I fail that test? Why did I not get that job? Why did go through a break-up? When going through a negative life experience, we’re not angry or sad because we went through a negative life event, it’s because our expectations of that event didn’t go through as planned in our heads.

The constant feedback loop of events not going our way and the negative thoughts circling our minds can create a vicious cycle of suffering that can be detrimental to both how we succeed in our lives and how we view our happiness. Fortunately, there are ways to stop this cycle from causing so much turmoil in our lives and it starts with knowing the difference between pain and suffering.

When we feel pain, it is our body telling us it’s not safe and trying to protect us. If we put our hand in a stove, our body tells us to stay away from the fire in order to prevent our hand from burning. If we stay up too late, our head hurts and our body starts to feel sore from sleep deprivation. Pain isn’t just a fact of life, it’s sometimes necessary to keep us safe from danger.

When we suffer, it is our minds telling us that we’re suffering, not our bodies. Unlike pain, suffering has no practical uses. It is our thoughts judging, denying, bargaining, complaining, projecting, and, ultimately, worsening our pain rather than accepting it. While we often think pain and suffering go hand-in-hand, it doesn’t have to be. We can experience pain without going through suffering. Conversely, we can go through suffering without pain. Suffering without pain leads to depression, anxiety, paralysis, hopelessness, and several other negative health effects.

How does one prevent the vicious cycle of pain and suffering?

The first thing you should do is to accept that pain can and will happen in our lives. And there is nothing wrong with that. After all, growth can only happen if we experience some great pain in our lives. Pain can be necessary and crucial when it comes to a variety of things such as immunity to certain conditions such as allergies, teaching our bodies to figure out what is safe for us, and it can help us build resilience.

The second is to realize that you are in control of your own thoughts. One of the things we have to develop when going through pain is changing the way we think about what we’re going through. Instead of telling your brain unhelpful thoughts such as “I’ll never be loved” or “My life has been one big disappointment,” train your brain to pick up the positive. What can I do to improve myself? How can I use this as an opportunity to grow? What are the bright sides of this situation? When you prime your brain to search for the good among the bad or ways you can improve the situation, not only are you changing your attitude towards the situation, your attitude will in turn influence your behavior, which will influence your actions, putting you in a much better position in dealing with whatever issue you’re facing.

Finally, and most importantly, you are not your thoughts. The ultimate main idea is that we are own bosses when it comes to thinking. We can take charge in terms of how we think, we can quiet our minds and not let the cracks of the past and the uncertainties of the future dictate how we should live our lives in the now. We can replace unhelpful negative self-talk with useful positive self-talk. And we can train ourselves to accept pain in our body and use that as a way to go through any obstacle in our lives.

Let me give you a personal example. One day I went to the dentist. I actually don’t like going to the dentist because whenever I go, they always have to clean my teeth and that inevitably means I have to go through pain in my enamel, my gums and, of course, teeth. When they did clean my teeth, I felt the metallic sensation of the tools used to clean out the plaque between my incisors, the forceful rubbing of the floss further down in the rows of my teeth, and the strange taste of the gum used to purify the many germs that inhabit my mouth. While all of that happened, I tested my resolve and chose not to suffer from what the dentists were doing to me. I accepted what was going on, I held my fists and faced the cleaning head on. I chose not to suffer and never once did I suffer.

When it was all over, I couldn’t believe how much, or how little, time the cleaning felt. The dentist said that my teeth was in good health, no cavities or bleeding of gums, I just needed to clean my plaque out better. At the end, it was just a routine cleaning session for my teeth. I learned I needed to clean my teeth better and I came off better for it. That doesn’t mean I avoided the pain or felt no pain afterwards, but I felt better for it. I felt no stress and my mind was at ease.

Although it’s not a quick and easy fix, when we adjust our thinking and how we think about our thinking, we can learn to live with pain without going through suffering. When we learn to master our thinking, we can go through life knowing that no matter what kind of pain we go through life, we can lessen our suffering and learn to enjoy what we have in life instead of focusing on constant pain all the time.

What I Learned Practicing Trivia

I always enjoyed game shows. Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, you name it. I always liked playing along ever since my youth. Game shows have been a long staple of television ever since television’s inception. The most appealing part of a game show to me was comparing your knowledge of the world to the contestants. Truth be told, my knowledge of the world has always been scant, even today.

One day, I saw an online advertisement for casting for the show, The Chase. I’ve always heard of the Chase, always been intrigued by it. I mostly heard of the show through the now legendary James Holzauer owning a lot of the trivia questions through the Final Chase. I decided to sign up and wait a week until I had my casting audition for the show.

I spent the entire week practicing trivia, watching old episodes of the Chase (mostly the British version and one episode of the US version, prefer the British version) and doing my research on how to get good at trivia. Upon my week long practice, there were a lot of things I learned.

1.If you think you know a lot about something, you don’t. While there were no doubt questions that were incredibly easy and things people should know about (name of the ship used to sail to Plymouth, author of novels, etc.) there were a lot of questions that genuinely stumped me. Questions I thought I did know about but forgot the right answer. And you know what, that’s perfectly fine.

2. You don’t have to know everything. There’s a lot of information out there that you’re not expected know, because, quite honestly, most of that information won’t help you in the long-term. While there are questions that you can answer correctly if you’re in the right occupation (what element is used in air bags, what does it mean to “shorten” something while cooking) there are questions that will stump you simply because that information won’t be all that relevant at the end of the day. Don’t beat yourself and call yourself an idiot because you got the answer, think of it as a way to learn something new.

3. You learn what subjects you know the best at and what subjects you’re bad at. I’m ready to go on ahead and admit it, I’m terrible when it comes to geography. I’m specifically bad when it comes where rivers flow from and what countries are from which ocean. Sports I’m not particularly great at either since I’ve never been a sports guy. While I admit to being weak at those two things, I do know my pop culture because I’ve always considered myself kinda nerdy and I do have knowledge on video games, shows, movies, and the like and the production history of them. I also enjoy science and history questions and I love to know more about the two of them.

4. Trust your intuition. Even if you don’t the answer to a question at the top of your head, it’s better to have a 1/3 chance of getting an answer right than to have no answer at all. If you had to take a guess, it’s best to commit to that guess and go with it if you have no other option. There were questions I got right despite not knowing the answer just by guessing. If you encounter a question you have no idea what the answer is, go with your gut and take a guess.

5. Embrace your curiosity. Use trivia as a way to expand your knowledge on a number of subjects. You’ll be surprised by some of the weird, unusual factoids that exist. Expand your mind and look into things that you normally wouldn’t get into. Who knows? Maybe that knowledge will get you somewhere beyond a game show.

Welcome!

If you’ve stumbled across this page, that means you are reading my very first blog post. I haven’t completely figured out yet what kind of blog I want this to be, but I can tell you that this’ll be about what I’ve learned from experience, sharing life experiences, lessons I learned from my previous six years in college, and an honest look at myself.

As of right now, I am in my longtime bedroom typing this blog out, in the middle of reading this book called the Happiness Advantage, and studying up on trivia for a game show. At the time of this writing, I volunteer as a virtual companion for a person with Alzheimer’s. I have a lot of things I want to write about but I feel that would be too big for just this one blog.

I’ll finish up and say thanks for reading this blog post. Expect more soon!

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