7 things to stop saying ‘yes’ to (when saying ‘no’ will make you happier)

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

I used to be a huge people-pleaser.

“Can you come into work tomorrow?”


Never mind it was my fourth day in a row and I just wanted to take a break.

“I’m having a party on Friday, you have to come!”

“I’ll be there!”

I was actually planning to read in bed and have some well-deserved me-time, but okay…

I simply always said “yes” to everything because shaking my head “no” seemed like a confrontational thing to do.

Of course, that makes no sense. Saying “no” has nothing to do with conflicts or aggressiveness and everything to do with self-love. And I can honestly say that once I embraced the power of “no”, my happiness levels increased a thousandfold.

So, without further ado, these are the 7 things to stop saying “yes” to.

1) Social events you have no interest in attending

FOMO (the fear of missing out) is a real thing. When I was at university, everyone kept telling me I should have a great time, socialize, and make dozens of new friends.

It’s safe to say I wasn’t very good at that. I had severe social anxiety, was too self-conscious about my English skills, and quite enjoyed having the evening to myself, thank you very much.

Still, though. The peer pressure got to me. Every time I refused to attend a social event, I felt terribly guilty, disappointed in myself, and, well, let’s face it, like an utter failure.

But here’s the thing. Some of the events I *did* go to were so uninteresting that they discouraged me from seeking out parties even more.

“Uhm, so where’s the lesson in this?” you might be thinking.

The lesson is that not every social event will be your cup of tea, and that’s okay. If you don’t feel like going or if you kind of want to leave the party after an hour of sipping your drink in a corner, that’s valid, too.

You have a limited amount of energy in a day. Pour it into friends and events that make you feel amazing.

(Yes, this includes your alone time.)

2) Friends that don’t make an effort to stay in touch

Speaking of who you choose to give your energy to, friends that don’t reciprocate your effort just aren’t it.

The older I am, the more I realize that friendships take a lot of active investment to work. 

Once you no longer have classes together and work in separate industries, your friendship turns from something convenient to something you very much have to maintain on a regular basis.

But life gets busy. Among all the work, health and fitness, passion projects, and dating, it’s easy to lose track of what truly matters – the quality of your friendships.

Did you know that loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day?

Crazy, right? It only goes to show just how important friendships are.

And if your friend keeps canceling on you, never reaches out, and generally doesn’t give you the time of day… maybe you should give that emotional energy to someone else.

3) Favors that take a toll on your well-being

“Hey, could you do me a favor?”

I hate this question. Mostly because every time someone asked me this in the past, I already knew I was about to do something that very much annoyed the hell out of me.

Then I realized that asking someone for a favor didn’t mean the person was obligated to actually carry it out. It was a request like any other – and requests can be politely denied.

I want you to remember that you don’t owe other people anything. If a colleague asks you to come to work on Monday even though it’s supposed to be your day off and you have a family day out planned, it’s okay to say “no”.

A family day out is just as valid as an important business meeting. Prioritize your well-being and your close relationships.

You come first.

4) Grabbing your phone every five minutes

When I say that you come first, I mean it. I don’t mean your phone and I don’t mean all that attention you’re giving it for no reason at all.

Yes, that’s right. Stop saying “yes” to your phone addiction.

What? You think you’re not an addict and I’m just being too harsh? Well, guess what. I have a phone addiction too. Most of us do. We’re all in this together. Which is…good and sad at the same time.

Truth be told, I think we all need a bit of harshness to remind ourselves just how much time we’re wasting scrolling on social media and getting excited by notifications that turn out to be UberEats advertisements.

Just because you grab your phone every five minutes doesn’t mean that something exciting actually happened in those 300 seconds.

Put your phone in a drawer. Have a little digital detox. You’ll very quickly realize that not much actually happens when you take a break from the buzz of the internet for a day.

5) That takeout you’re thinking of ordering

Writing about UberEats made me want to order takeout.

Oh, you too?

Well, let’s say “no” together, shall we?

Takeout is an amazing invention, don’t get me wrong. I love having someone else cook for me and having yet another person deliver it to my front door. All I get to do is spend money and eat.

But that’s exactly the problem. We’re all so used to eating out that we’re not even sure what we’re putting inside our bodies and how calorific it is. What’s more, we don’t even realize we could create a healthier version of the same meal for one-fourth of the price if we just put our brains to work.

Cooking can be a very calming and rejuvenating experience. Say “no” to takeout and “yes” to making your own yummy meals.

(Of course, ordering in once in a while never hurt anybody. I like to order in once or twice a month as a “reward” for all the cooking I’ve done.)

6) Slouching on the couch every evening

Is there a better feeling than eating takeaway pizza and watching Netflix?

Yes. It’s called “doing something good for your well-being”.

I’m not saying you should never chill out on the sofa. I love doing that. But there’s a difference between taking a nice break a few times a week and making laziness into a daily habit, especially if there are much better habits you’ve been meaning to pick up for years.

Recently, I’ve realized that I’m at my physical best in the evening. This means that once my workday is over and my side projects have been completed, I head to the gym at around 8 PM.

Then I come home, have a shower, read a book for about two hours, and go to sleep.

I haven’t watched Netflix in God knows how long. And it feels amazing. Instead of doing something brain-numbing every evening, I exercise and then I immerse myself in a fun fictional world that expands my imagination.

Ever since I established this evening routine, I’ve been looking forward to my evenings with the giddiness of a child.

7) Complaining instead of taking action

Before I started working out on a regular basis and tracking my habits, I complained lots.

“Ugh, I’m so X and Y. Why do I look like Z? I wish I was K and M.”

After years of very little fitness progress, I looked in the mirror and had the painstaking realization that it had now been two whole years since I’d decided to become healthier, and I’d done almost nothing in that time.

Two. Years.

I could have run a marathon. I could have grown actual muscles. I could have learned to do a split or joined a karate class.

Instead, I just complained and did nada. Unsurprisingly, the results reflected that.

That was when I stopped saying “yes” to complaining and started saying “yes” to taking action. It has now been nine months since I started going to the gym regularly, and I’ve never been so fit in my entire life.

What about you? What have you been putting off?

It’s your turn to stop saying “yes” to procrastination. I promise you the results are worth it.

Denisa Cerna

Hi! I’m a fiction author and a non-fiction freelance writer with a passion for personal development, mental health, and all things psychology. I have a graduate degree in Comparative Literature MA and I spend most of my time reading, travelling, and – shocker – writing. I’m always on a quest to better understand the inner workings of the human mind and I love sharing my insights with the world. If any of my articles change your life for the better… mission accomplished.
Get in touch at denisacerna.writing@gmail.com or find me on LinkedIn.

10 things successful introverts do – that normal introverts don’t

If a woman displays these 8 traits, she’s definitely ambitious and self-driven