The Happy Human
Published in

The Happy Human

The Option to Say “No”

And how that little word can increase our happiness.

Photo by Мария Волк on Unsplash

We live in a world of options — options to create and live our lives. Options that demand decisions of us. These decisions even present themselves to us at the coffee machine early in the morning.

Cappuccino, latte, milk coffee, espresso? Or coffee? We can’t possibly choose the same cup every morning! Why would we?

The blinking smartphone display reminds us that there is a world out there we can’t miss out on. By scrolling through our phones, we find endless options.

Tailor-made articles for our interests pop up on our home screen. There are apps to find potential dates — so many that we get dizzy. There are apps to stay up-to-date, apps for our finances, meditation apps, and sports apps that track our steps and calories. We have apps for everything — and for every topic, there are several options.

And after a long day of choosing and deciding, we have almost millions of options of which series to stream. Drama, comedy, fantasy, or the one we already binged? How can we settle for one when there are so many other options that might fit our needs and wants better? How can we know what to do? And let’s not forget social media, with its endless supply of options to waste our time.

Options are everywhere, surrounding us — and yet, the whole world lies right before our feet. That doesn’t stop in our leisure time. We have several options in our professional lives too. We need to savor that. But how can we if we don’t know what to choose? How can we be sure to make the right decision, the best decision, when there are so many possibilities out there?

We can’t.

And that might just be the problem, the cause for our troubled and restless minds and stressful lives. Of course, living in a world full of options and possibilities is something we should be grateful for. Not everyone in this world is blessed to have so many options.

But every now and then, we should remember that we also have the option to “miss out” on something — and that doing this could simplify our lives and make us happier. The more options we have, the harder it is to choose.

So how can we deal with endless possibilities? How can we be happy despite the ever-present question of whether something or someone else might make us happier? How can we stop being stressed out by all the options to decide from? How can we know what we need and how to rest our minds over those questions?

It starts with us.

The first thing we need to do is prioritize.

Options occur to us like waves on a beach: options about how to spend the evening, the weekend, options surrounding a job change. When we know what we want in life, we know which options to choose and which to let go of. If we pursue long-term goals, and we rank those over short-term enjoyment, certain options won’t fit.

The second thing we should do is cultivate habits.

Habits give us a rhythm and naturally eliminate certain options and decisions. Something as simple as having a fixed time at which to begin work or do a workout in the morning decides how we spend our evening and how our day starts. We need habits to work towards something.

Habits allow us to be successful in every part of life. They give us stability and help us avoid following every trend that pops up.

The third thing we should consider is that “missing out” is nothing to fear.

We don’t miss out on anything if we know why we do what we do and if we’re content with the way we chose. We don’t miss out if we know what we want and need and what interests us. When we know and value ourselves, we give ourselves everything we need.

We should be grateful for the options we have and a life full of possibilities. There’s nothing wrong with trying new things, but that doesn’t mean blindly following every option and getting ahead of ourselves. The most important option is to say no to everything that makes us more restless.

By doing this, we give ourselves the chance to slow down and be happier.



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