03/11/2011 02:42 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Say 'No' for Simplicity's Sake

Life is too damn complicated these days. It's an endless round of information and opportunity. We have to face facts: We're going to miss out on something occasionally, and if we don't, we're going to implode even more dramatically than we already are.

I know people who schedule every waking moment of every single day. They schedule phone chats. They schedule sex. They schedule meaningful time. Do you? Are you one of them?

There's an epidemic of busy-ness in North America these days, which is causing major fallout. People, especially women, and even more especially mothers, are exhausted to the point of falling down.

I know working and running a family are time-consuming. I also know several women who are flirting with scary illness because of this busy-ness disease we're all flirting with to one degree or another.

It has to stop. Sooner rather than later.

Here's a small, but powerful, prescriptive that works every time: Say "no." No. Full stop. Full sentence. No, I need a pedicure. No, I need a nap. No, I need to read a book. No. Not for me. No, thanks, if you want to be polite about it.

In my counseling practice, every single week some person sits on my sofa and sighs that life is too complicated.

"What's its opposite?" I ask.

To a person, the answer is "simplicity."

"And what creates simplicity?"

"Fewer commitments."

"And who makes those commitments?"

And the silence between us can last as long as a few minutes, while my client is realizing that he or she is the one saying "yes" to every little thing, as if it's all a priority.

I never thought this when I was in my 20s and 30s, but the use of "no" is a spiritual discipline. "No" means a lot of things: No, that's not a priority in my life; no, that's not mine to do; no, that's not how I want to spend my time.

If simplicity is so sought after, why are we not taking the action that creates it?

Simply put, the answer is fear. We're afraid we'll miss something, or our children will miss something or something will happen without us.

Well, the truth is, we will, and they will and it will.


Not every event is earth-shattering, nor should it be. Miss something! Go ahead, say no. I double-dare you.


For spiritual nourishment, visit Dr. Susan Corso's website and blog, Seeds for Sanctuary. Friend her on Facebook.