Saying 'no' can make you happier and healthier. Here are 5 steps to do it.

Kristen was a real go-getter — she wasn't afraid to say "yes." And it helped her shoot up the ranks at her job as a young woman.

She wasn't afraid to try new things or risk failure. So the blogger and knitting enthusiast found herself with her own office at the young age of 21. But her love affair with the word "yes" didn't last forever.


30 years later, she found that her romance with "yes" had finally lost its flame. She was stressed out.

Unfortunately you can't always fake it until you make it.

She found herself saying "yes" to the wrong things, leaving her stretched and overcommitted.

So she decided it was time give a word in her lexicon some extra use.

Not all of us can say "no" with the ease of Grumpy Cat. #lifegoals.

It took a while, but once she perfected "the art of 'no'" she knew she made the right decision.

In a blog post about her journey to learning how to say no, she says getting into the habit wasn't easy, but it was so worth it. She feels better: free, happy, and more helpful!

GIF via "Despicable Me."

Here are some simple tips that'll have you saying that two-letter word with ease in no time:

1. Make the commitment to "no" official. Figure out why you need to say it, and declare it.

YES! And that's OK. GIF via "Scandal."

It'll be easier to stick to saying "no" when you've sat down and told yourself why you've made the conscious decision to do so. Kristen's turning point came when she found herself making and delivering 200 desserts by hand for a party that wasn't even hers — when she had her own party the same day! The stress of it left her feeling exhausted and victimized. She decided enough is enough.

So take a minute to think about it: Why do you need to say "no"? Is it to get more sleep? To be less stressed? To have more time to go to the gym or spend time with friends? Remember that every reason is valid. Just make sure you discover yours.

2. Remember: Saying "no" won't make everyone hate you.

A re-enactment of how people will feel after you tell them "no." GIF via "Skins."

Until we learn how to add more hours to the 24 we've got in a day, we just can't do everything. People get that we have limitations — because we all have them. And, you know, there's that thing with sleeping and eating that we humans can't do without.

If people respect you enough to ask for your help, they'll respect you enough to not take your "no" personally. Keep in mind that it isn't the word "no" that's inherently rude; it's how it's said that makes the difference.

3. Overcome FOMO and get comfortable with "doing you."

It's easy to feel like Homer, but you can overcome it. I BELIEVE IN YOU! GIF via "The Simpsons."

The temptation to say "yes" can be especially strong when you feel like you don't want to miss out on a great opportunity. If you're tempted to say "yes" out of fear, ask yourself a few questions. For instance: Will there be other parties? Can I really take on another commitment? Will I feel energized or more exhausted if I do this?

4. Discover the magic of using "and" or "but."

See how magical that word is?! GIF via "Spongebob Squarepants."

I get it. The idea of a curt "no" might sound terrifying. And nobody likes rudeness. Try these simple additions to help you soften the blow while still sounding confident:

In the resources section of the She Negotiates' website, negotiation consultant and executive coach Lisa Gates shows just how effective these words can be in different situations:

When you're just flat out saying "no."

"Yes, I'd love to participate, and I am going to have to decline."

When you know someone who can do it.

"I love that you thought of me, and I'm unable to participate. How can I help you find someone else?"

When you want to show your appreciation for the ask.
"I think your idea is fabulous, and I'm not able to participate at this time."

When it's "no" — for now.
"Yes, I'd love to participate, but at a later date. Can you ask me again in January?"

5. Keep it short and sweet.

Channel your inner Liz Lemon. GIF via "30 Rock."

Know that saying "no" is enough. You don't need to provide a long explanation to prove the worth of your "no." Keep it simple while being truthful. It'll be clear, and (bonus points) you don't sound like you're making up excuses!

And if you wish you didn't have to say "no"? Here's another example Gates offers:

I really wanted to attend your party but I was working late and the kids had a meltdown when I came home and by the time things were calmed down it was too late. Besides, someone boxed me in and I couldn't get out of my parking space even if I wanted to. I'm sorry if you were counting on me. How can I make it up to you?

Doesn't it sound so much better when you keep it short and to the point?

Following these steps are just the beginning. Fortunately there are a lot of resources out there that can help you learn how to say "no." Check out these posts on Lifehacker or books like "How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty" by Patti Brietman and Connie Hatch.

Creating boundaries can be hard, but having them makes for a happier, more healthy life. It might feel counterintuitive, but saying "no" can actually improve your relationships. Think about it: If you learn how to turn down doing the things you don't really want to do, then you're free to commit to the things — and people — you're crazy about (in the good way).

So go out there and flex those "no" muscles and tell me how it goes. Or not. It's OK if you don't want to report back — just say no. ;)

True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

In the autumn of 1939, Chiune Sugihara was sent to Lithuania to open the first Japanese consulate there. His job was to keep tabs on and gather information about Japan's ally, Germany. Meanwhile, in neighboring Poland, Nazi tanks had already begun to roll in, causing Jewish refugees to flee into the small country.

When the Soviet Union invaded Lithuania in June of 1940, scores of Jews flooded the Japanese consulate, seeking transit visas to be able to escape to a safety through Japan. Overwhelmed by the requests, Sugihara reached out to the foreign ministry in Tokyo for guidance and was told that no one without proper paperwork should be issued a visa—a limitation that would have ruled out nearly all of the refugees seeking his help.

Sugihara faced a life-changing choice. He could obey the government and leave the Jews in Lithuania to their fate, or he could disobey orders and face disgrace and the loss of his job, if not more severe punishments from his superiors.

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, Sugihara was fond of saying, "I may have to disobey my government, but if I don't, I would be disobeying God." Sugihara decided it was worth it to risk his livelihood and good standing with the Japanese government to give the Jews at his doorstep a fighting chance, so he started issuing Japanese transit visas to any refugee who needed one, regardless of their eligibility.

Keep Reading Show less