The Fine Art of Saying NO

March 5, 2012 at 3:37 am (simple frugality) (, , , , , , )

No is a complete answer. A friend recently reminded me of this when I was wanting to say no to yet another obligation of someone else’s idea of how I should spend my time and resources. I was rehearsing one elaborate speech after another on why I could not become part of this or that and she gently nudged me and said “Ellen no is a complete answer.”

I felt a rush of relief flow over me like a cool wave on a hot August day. Just no. No need to make excuses or dig up justifiable reasons. Just no.

So again I find myself in a place where a well meaning friend has finagled me into an organization where I don’t belong and have no interest in participating. I will write the email this evening that just says “No I cannot add to my obligations at this time. Thank you for thinking of me and I wish you well.” There will no doubt be a lengthy email requesting further reasons but, I will give none because NO is a complete answer.

I value my time which is why I am self employed, grow a garden and live frugally. When I want to do something I want to be able to schedule it in without great drama or concern for finances. I often bow out of outings with friends and acquaintances because I don’t care to spend money on mediocre restaurant food and I don’t watch television so I cannot discuss the latest episode of “Dancing with the Lost Survivors on the Jersey Shore” with them nor do I go shopping as recreation. I prefer free museum days and long walks through Balboa park with the dog listening to birds and watching butterflies and hummingbirds in silence with a sack lunch. I’m not anti-social but, I march to a different drummer than many of the people I know. They have sometimes embarrassed themselves by making assumptions about my ability to afford weekends away or dinners when the truth is those are not part of my values and I live my values.

I read a great deal and am active in human rights issues such as ending slavery and not purchasing items made in sweat shops. I don’t buy into the Madison Avenue hyperbole of more is more. I prefer fewer, well made belongings which more me forward in my life’s purpose and support my goals and values. I steer by MY inner compass.

So next time someone tells you NO they cannot make it to your event or party except and respect “NO” as a complete answer as you may not want to hear the real reason because then you will have to take a closer look at your own values.

Simply living that others may simply live.




  1. Asta Lander said,

    As someone who walks to the same drum as you dear Ellen I rejoice at your way of life. There in lies freedom and real joy. There can be nothing more satisfying than being true to your values.
    There is a bible verse that supports what you have to say about saying no – it is said so simply – ‘Let your yes be yes and your no be no’.
    Asta x

  2. Georgina said,

    Ellen, what a wonderfully worded story. I too feel the same way as my husband and I go about paying off our mortgage and save for retirement in an entirely different way than most of the people we know. We get chided about our frugality and how we make our decisions, but we stick to our values and support one another while we inch closer to our goals. (Lest I say we are way ahead or our peers financially because of this.) Stick to your guns. Not many people are courageous enough to follow their inner compass and/or have the integrity to stay the course.

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