The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance, and Happiness

By James Altucher & Claudia Azula Altucher

 

Synopsis

Do you often say yes to the wrong things – bad relationships, inane requests, time-consuming tasks? Everyone makes countless decisions every day, and these decisions shape their lives. And for a happy and healthy life, we have to learn to say no to all the things that damage us. Do you struggle with saying “no”? Do you often wish you had to strength to just turn things down? Here you will find a practical guide on getting that strength and increasing the quality of your life through the power of no. So if you want happiness, abundance and health, this guide will teach you how to make your dreams come true.

 

Summary

Lots of people find themselves in situations where someone asks them to do something, and they know they should decline, but for some reason they just can’t. From helping a friend move to running unnecessary errands at work, these tasks can be extremely draining and unsatisfactory. And that is why learning how to say “no” is the best way to get a better quality of life. But the power of “no” doesn’t just refer to particular situations – it is also about saying “no” to people, scarcity, needless noise, etc. By realizing the power of “no” and learning how to say “yes”, a person can greatly enhance their overall happiness and quality of life.

There are three important lessons which can help a person use the power of no:

  1. Saying no to the wrong people.
  2. Saying no to things you don’t like.
  3. Saying no to scarcity and noise.

 

Choosing life, saying no to the wrong people

The way a person shapes their life comes down to their everyday choices. But when faced with these choices, many people will get sucked into situations they do not want to be a part of. This can cause them to neglect their well-being. But if they want to get the most out of their lives, choosing life is the way to go. Choosing life means avoiding things that might cause death, like smoking and eating bad foods, but it also means getting rid of negative and abusive people. Everyone has people in their lives who drain their energy and cause bad emotions like fear or guilt. Instead of wasting time on these relationships, this time and energy should be diverted towards the “inner circle”.

 

What is the Inner Circle?

The inner circle is the people that a person spends most of their energy and time on. Remember, a person is the average of the 5 people they surround themselves with.

There is a handy exercise which helps in figuring out who belongs in the inner circle, thus making it better.

  1. Listing people that one engages with at least five times a week
  2. Rating the encounters with these people on a scale from one to ten (ten being the best)
  3. Focusing on people that rank higher than 8 (spending more time with them)
  4. Getting some distance from people that rank lower than five

This last step might be a huge challenge for some people because it requires overcoming destructive behavioral patterns. Claudia, one of the authors of the book, gives a good example of this – she always pursued unavailable men and was addicted to unattainable love. In an extreme case, she pursued a guy she only saw 4 times in 2 years. Eventually she decided to say no to this pattern of behavior by first saying no to this man, and then to her addiction. After she said no to the negative in her life, she found a relationship based on love and respect, and she is now happily married.

 

Following your dreams, saying no to the things you don't like

The key to a person having a happy life is doing things they want to do. When a person ignores what they want to do and keeps doing things they don’t like, it can become a huge obstacle in making their dreams come true. One of the biggest problems here is that people tend to conform to other people’s expectations instead of following their passions and forging their own path.  

Learning how to say an assertive no is important, especially in situations where a reluctant yes will create a lose-lose situation. For example, Jack’s friend Julie asked him to help her paint her kitchen. Jack really doesn’t want to do it, but reluctantly accepts, because he feels it is expected of him. Julie, in turn, feels Jack’s reluctance, which makes her feel bad. This creates a situation in which neither Jack nor Julie are happy with the outcome. An assertive no from Jack would have avoided that.

 

Attaining abundance and silence, saying no to scarcity and noise

Although in this day and age, resources are not scarce, people still seem to suffer from the scarcity complex. Saying no to scarcity means a person shifts their attention away from what they don’t have and towards the abundance that surrounds them. A simple way to do that is to count the blessings in their lives and focus on the palpable lack of scarcity. Focusing on abundance enriches a person’s life. Rather than seeing the glass half empty, or even half full, it is important to realize that there is plenty of water, that dying of thirst isn’t an option, and that we should be thankful for the water.

Saying no to noise is also important, and replacing it with silence. Noise is anything that prevents a person from being at peace with themselves and the universe – the negative thoughts that bring fear or regret, outside information that causes bad emotions. For example, if that news report about the plane crash stirs up feelings of fear, just switch the TV off.

When a person reduces noise, it also allows them to see with an open heart and give their full attention to the people and things that surround them, that had previously maybe gone unnoticed.

 

Saying "Yes"

The conclusion of the three previous chapters is how saying no to the right things can drastically improve a person’s life. The power of no is derived from three features:

  • Health (saying no to harmful things)
  • Discerning (perceiving the abundance)
  • Compassion (listening with an open heart)

Implementing this can be difficult, but going on a gratitude diet can be of big help. Starting the day by thinking of 10 things that a person is thankful for can help them focus on the good in their life, and give them the will and strength to make a change – start saying no to bad things. And saying no to the bad quickly becomes saying yes to the good – health, abundance and happiness.