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The Happiness Track: Say No Like a Boss

Columnists
We have all said yes when we knew better, and mostly the impact is as meaningless as eating an hors d’oeuvre just to be polite. But sometimes the impact is life-changing: saying yes to a marriage, a job, or a home that doesn’t feel right. Eventually, those mistakes become glaringly obvious. To others you can claim innocence. But in hindsight, if you are truly honest with yourself, you always knew better. We have strong instincts when someone is not being forthright, for example. If the person you are speaking to is hiding their anger, your heart rate increases. Yet the problem comes when we ignore these instincts: We rely on our logical and reasoning mind instead. And the mind betrays us too easily. After all, you can talk yourself into anything, whether it’s an abusive relationship or a terrible deal on a car. We say yes when we mean no for many reasons: to impress, to avoid conflict, to be nice, to conform, or because we feel helpless. But many say yes because we’ve never learned to say no, to stand our ground and to assert our boundaries. As a consequence, we’ve never learned the most profound f …

Emma Seppälä, PhD, is author of The Happiness Track, founder of FulfillmentDaily.com, and Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education.


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