In this stress-level skyrocketing time of year, there's one word I try to infuse more into my vocabulary: no.
In past years, I've always said yes. Yes to the countless holiday parties, the office cookie exchange and the expensive New Year's plans that never sounded fun in the first place. But this year, I'm saying no. These last couple weeks of 2016 will be so much more pleasant without the flurry of so much to do and people to do and things to bake.
But I'm the first to admit that saying no is hard. I don't want to let people down. I don't want them to think I'm a Grinch for not participating in every end-of-year event.
Thankfully, I stumbled across this Mental Floss piece that offers the easiest way to say no ever. Instead of saying you can't do something, try saying you don't. Whether you're saying no to yourself or someone else, the trick works. It's not that you don't want to do something. You simply are not able to. "There's no room for debate," the article's author Shaunacy Ferro writes. "It's a hard-and-fast rule that you set for yourself."
The trick is based on a study published a few years ago in the Journal of Consumer Research. The focus of the study was to examine which language was most effective to help participants resist temptation and motivate goal-directed behavior. Study volunteers who repeated the phrase, "I don't skip exercise" worked out more often than those who repeated the phrase, "I can't skip exercise.
If, like me, you feel stretched thin around this time of year, then this is the perfect time to try out the "don't" trick. Tell yourself you don't say yes to things you don't want to do. Then, don't tell people you can't join them for that drink or finish that last minute project. Tell them you don't.