It’s Always Alright To Say No

You Don’t Have to Do It All: How to Say No and Still Feel Great

If you’re stressed out right now, I hear you. Most of us are feeling overwhelmed these days. The odds are strong that you take on too much at work, either because you want to get ahead or help out your coworkers, or you just feel uncomfortable telling a supervisor that yet another project is more than you can—or should be expected to—handle. 

And then there’s your personal life. I mean, we love our friends and our family, but they ask a lot of our time—not to mention our emotional bandwidth. Relationships take work, and we never want to let anyone down. It’s hard to say no when someone asks for help, or even just wants a piece of your (precious, limited) time to catch up over coffee.

It’s hard to say no, but it’s actually a crucial skill for your mental health. Learning to say no—without feeling bad about it—will give you room to breathe and focus on yourself once in a while. You’ll be able to establish healthy boundaries and provide clarity about what people can expect from you. Best of all, you can say no to others while still maintaining strong relationships. Here’s how.

Take Your Time Answering

One reason it’s hard to say no is because we hate to disappoint people. Saying no directly to someone’s face is difficult. You might be afraid to hurt their feelings or even fear offending them, making you more inclined to consent to their request even when you really don’t want to.

Here’s how I’ve learned to deal with such situations: Starting today, make it your policy not to answer any request for your time in the moment. Instead, say, “I have to check my calendar, but I’ll get back to you.” Then give yourself at least 24 hours to think about your true answer. Calling back or shooting an email with your decision after a day or two will take the sting out of a “no” response, and taking your time will teach people that your time is valuable and that they can’t expect you to drop everything on the spot to help them.

Gauge Your Genuine Interest

Now that you’ve made it a habit to buy some time before answering, you want to use it wisely. So you really should check your calendar to see if you have time to take on a new project or activity. You should also use the time to consider whether saying yes to the request will bring you any joy, or if it’s only likely to be a headache.

Traditional pros and cons list can be helpful, but one magic question can bring a lot of clarity. Ask yourself: “Would I be willing to drop everything and do this if it were happening later today or tomorrow?” We often say yes to things we don’t really want to do because they are farther in the future, and we think there’s a possibility we may be more receptive to them later. But in reality, if you don’t want to do it today or tomorrow, you don’t really want to do it next week or next month, either.

Offer an Alternative

When you’ve decided to decline someone’s request for your time, you can avoid hurting their feelings—or worse, creating tension in your relationship—by suggesting something you can do instead. For example, if your sister asks you for last-minute babysitting for your nephews tonight, you could say something like, “I can’t watch the boys tonight, but I can take them out for ice cream on Saturday.” Your offer may or may not be accepted, but most people will appreciate your helpfulness and realize that you care about them and their needs.

Alternatives don’t have to be similar to the original request, either. If you’re asked to donate money to a cause, you could offer to volunteer your time instead—or vice versa. This is also a useful strategy at work because it helps you be honest about what you can handle and can help you suggest ways your boss can support you in getting the work done. For example, saying something like, “It will be hard for me to get that extra report done by Thursday, but if you could assign your secretary to help, I’m sure I could get it done by Friday morning.”

Stop Feeling Guilty

Saying no takes practice, and you may feel guilty for doing it at first. Fortunately, you can learn to change your thought patterns to stop guilt in its tracks. One trick is to simply say “Stop!” out loud every time you feel guilty about saying no. This is technique used by cognitive-behavioral therapists to interrupt negative thoughts. Once you say no, take a deep breath and remind yourself that it’s always okay to say no. Eventually, you’ll become more mindful and catch yourself before guilt can take hold.

Remember, it’s always okay to say no to something you can’t or don’t want to do. The more you practice these tips, the more empowered and confident you will feel.


Discover The Value Of Positive Thinking

Staying Positive in a Negative Environment 

The world can be a negative place sometimes. Whether we are stressing over catching a virus, quarantining, homeschooling, financial insecurities, relationships, or just regular day-to-day issues, there’s one commonly perceived thread: that one bad thing will almost certainly lead to another, and what can go wrong will go wrong. This is known as Murphy’s Law, and it’s a misconception.

The truth is, one bad thing does not necessarily lead to another. However, a negative attitude or outlook on life can lead to the creation of all sorts of unnecessary problems. It can cause minor negative situations to appear far worse than they are and could potentially escalate to even further negative situations.  It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. Negativity can also impact our general health, how we interact with people around us, and our ongoing well-being. Here are some ways we can try to stay positive, regardless of what life throws at us.


Recognizing and Immediately Addressing Self Negativity

A negative attitude can manifest itself in many ways. We can complain about a person or a situation, for instance. On the other hand, it is also possible to direct negativity at ourselves. Self-negativity is particularly poisonous because it can make us feel inferior or inadequate. Ways to combat self-negativity vary based on the reason for it, but they might include:

  • Coming up with positive mantras
  • Writing down lists of positive attributes.
  • Finding ways to be as productive as possible. (My personal go-to)
  • Working actively to alter traits we want to improve.


Taking Refuge in a Hobby

Taking up a hobby is a great way to relieve stress. It is also an excellent method for passing the time, which is particularly helpful in areas where social distancing and self-isolating are currently considered normal. There are many hobbies to pick from. Some are even productive, such as:

  • Sewing
  • Writing 
  • Woodworking/Carpentry
  • Knitting

Even if a hobby has no practical use, it can help erase negativity. For example, doing a jigsaw puzzle does not necessarily have a point. Yet, it’s a distraction and can be a lot of fun. The more hobbies like that we find to relieve stress in our downtime, the better equipped we are mentally to deal with stressful situations when they pop up.



Exercising is essential for a positive mindset. Multiple studies have proven exercising releases endorphins, which are natural chemicals in our bodies that make us feel better. Exercising is especially great because it also improves our general health. A post-exercise sense of accomplishment can also help drown out feelings of negativity.


Looking Ahead

When we set goals for the future, we have things to look forward to. Therefore, a big part of maintaining positive attitudes is constantly looking ahead for things that motivate and inspire us. It might be a loved one’s wedding, graduation, a birth, lunch with a friend, or even the end of a quarantine situation. Whatever the end goals are, thinking of the pleasure that will ensue when those milestones are reached encourages positive thinking in the present.


The Ultimate Way to Stay Positive

It’s challenging to stay positive 100 percent of the time on our own, especially in a negative environment or in the face of unexpected adversity. The ultimate way to stay positive, or to regain positivity, is to recognize when life is getting us down and to reach out to others for support when we need to. Today’s technology makes this possible, even in times of physical self-isolation. Family members, friends, and mentors are valuable resource who can give us a tremendous boost, no matter what is going on in our personal lives or the world as a whole, and they are just a text or a video call away.


Life Hacks: Getting Motivated And Inspired

Sometimes the best thing we can do to get our ass in gear is to change our attitude. Of course, this is much easier said than done and does not happen overnight; it’s a lifelong journey, but it’s worth it. So, how do we get motivated when lassitude sets in? How do we turn a pessimistic attitude into an optimistic one? If the outlook is bleak, do we simply put on rose-colored glasses and pretend, or can we actually alter our state of mind with positive thinking?

Get Motivated with Positive Thinking

“The Pessimist Sees Difficulty In Every Opportunity. The Optimist Sees Opportunity In Every Difficulty.” – Winston Churchill

  • A positive attitude is much healthier than a negative one. 
  • In order to improve your outlook, think of everything that’s going right in your life, rather than what’s not working out.
  • Make a list of affirmations. 
  • Try to surround yourself with feel-good, intelligent people. The right friends can be the most wonderful sort of inspiration. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Reward yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back when you accomplish a goal!
  • Start the day off right with a healthy breakfast. Make your bed in the morning. These routines will get you moving on a positive path.  


Put in the Work and Reap the Benefits

  • If you work towards your goals, there will be a payoff (maybe not immediately but don’t lose heart). 
  • Try to make progress every day, even if you’re only taking baby steps. Start small.


It’s a Trick Sometimes…

Sometimes you have to trick yourself into feeling optimistic when things get stressful. In order to de-stress and get motivated, try these helpful tips:

  • Treat yourself to something you want but do not necessarily need.
  • Have a drink (or two).
  • CBD oils: tinctures or topical creams are wonderful for soothing minor aches and pains.
  • Exercise, stretching, breathing: start the day with a good stretch; limber up your body and mind.
  • Talk therapy: phone a friend. 
  • A big cup of coffee: what would we do without caffeine in the morning?
  • Go to your happy place…(and this means doing whatever you have to do to feel good). Practice self-care: Listen to your favorite music, shampoo your hair, mist on some perfume, accept affection from those near and dear…do something that brings about a simulacrum of happiness, and then think about the things you want and need to do. Then make a list. Realize that you live your life one day at a time and, every day, attempt something on your list. Keep track of your progress. Take things as they come and try not to sweat the small, insignificant stuff. I know it’s a cliché, but it can be a lifesaver, too. 


Learning From Failures

It’s not always about winning. Failures are valuable lessons too.

We have all heard popular phrases that use “winning” as an adjective. Whether it’s a “winning smile,” a “winning personality,” or “winning at life,” there’s no denying that winning is emphasized in our society. We all want to be winners at something, and rarely do we relish the thought of losing. The objective might be a scholarship, a degree, a promotion, or a sporting trophy. As humans, we love to come out on top. But is winning really everything? That’s an important question we all need to ask more often.

In my own life, I have found that failing is not always a bad thing. Our failures are how we learn and grow. Common sense and history show winning isn’t everything. The class valedictorian almost never goes on to have the most successful career among all of the graduates. To understand why we can learn our most valuable lessons from failures, we first have to look a bit more at winning.

Society Loves a Winner
It’s hard not to take notice of how winners are treated in society. Usually there is a hierarchy, or a goal, multiple competitors are trying to reach. Sporting events are far from the only example. As humans, we all seem to compete all the time. It is our nature. As children and teens, we compete for popularity, as well as grades and accolades in school. As adults, we compete for jobs and promotions. Competing to have the best-looking home or the most material objects is common for some of us.

I have felt this and so have you: There’s an immediate mental boost that comes from achieving a goal. It’s part of why we feel good about things like earning a college degree or completing a self-defense course or just crossing an item off our to-do lists. There is a long-term high that comes from considering ourselves winners at life. We all want to be looked at positively while we are still here, and remembered in a positive light after we are gone. So it’s no wonder we place such a high value on winning. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we also need to remember that failing at something is not always bad. Often, our failures teach us some of the best life lessons.

But Obsessing Over Winning is Never Good
Of course, it is nice to win things or to rank highest among our peers. Some of us are able to bask in an occasional win without letting it go to our heads. In such cases, winning is absolutely a positive experience. However, for some of us, winning can turn into a negative obsession. As a society, our obsession with competition has led to more emphasis on winning than is sometimes healthy. An athlete who comes in second place did a phenomenal job, but the second-place finisher is often quickly forgotten. But in many ways that second-place finisher, or even an athlete who finishes dead last, is better off than the winner. That is because failure often leads to more future success.

Much Can Be Gained from Failure

When we fail, it can feel like the world is watching us and viewing us negatively. But, if we accept our failures, in the long run much can be gained from them. What we gain depends on the individual case, but here are some examples:

  • Learning the importance of character traits like humility and integrity
  • Using feedback to change poor habits and create later successes for ourselves
  • Inspiring others to greatness with our own failures

We can use failure as a motivational tool. Often, failure is like staring at an incomplete jigsaw puzzle. It makes us want to find the missing pieces to finally finish what we started. So we work harder and improve upon our skills. That can push us toward improved school grades, better social relationships, or performance at work. It can lead us in entirely new directions that wind up making us more well-rounded members of society.

Personally, I have found that, while failures can lead us to great successes if we learn from our mistakes, too often success can lead to complacency.

Famous Failures Turned Into Successes
Failure can lead to greatness. The paths we take after a failure may not be planned, but that doesn’t mean they are bad or wrong. In fact, many famous people had major failures before they achieved success. Without their willingness to forge ahead and learn from their failures, our world would be quite different today. The light bulb is a prime example. Thomas Edison said it took him ten thousand tries to create a light bulb that worked. Some other famous individuals who learned from failures were:

  • Walt Disney – He got fired from a job for his supposed lack of imagination when he was young.
  • Jerry Greenfield (Co-Founder of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream) – He applied to medical school but was rejected.
  • Oprah Winfrey – She was told she wasn’t fit to be on television.

How to Use Our Failures to Grow
Failure is only bad if nothing is gained from it. That is why, when we fail, we must always use the lessons learned to grow, improve, and adapt. One way to do that is by keeping an open mind. Another is by not obsessing about winning. The more we recognize the importance of failure, the faster our failures can lead us to successes.


#nabilakhashoggi #khashoggi #lifestyle #explore #habits #nabilaK #spartanandthegreenegg


A Bamboo Grove In Kyoto Is Ideal For Family Outings

Growing Memories with Kids: A Japanese Bamboo Forest  

Your Kids Will Love Bamboo

Many children become fussy or have trouble winding down from a long day of playing or travel; I know mine did! Some people use soothing toys and videos depicting serene forests as a tool for calming down hyped-up kids. While pictures and imagery are compelling to young minds in need of serenity, they can’t hold a candle to the real thing. Japan is known for heavenly botanical vistas, I sometimes find some of the most breathtaking also come from something more humble than towering mountains or vast lakes.

To-Do: Bamboo

One of our favorite family vacation memories is of Japan’s Kyoto Prefecture. It holds a great, green secret that towers dozens of feet in the air, waiting for both discovery and immersion by little eyes and minds. A family outing to the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove is ideal for children of all ages – even those too young to walk through it themselves. Lush, towering bamboo offers pleasant shade and a tranquil, immersive experience ideal for dreamy little imaginations. Studded with mountain temples, nearby shopping, and the Iwatayama Monkey Park, an attraction we were particularly excited to see, where visitors can hand-feed monkeys fruit and peanuts in a specially-designated area, the bamboo grove makes an excellent starting point for the day. The hike across the bridge and the climb up the mountain required a little exertion, but our overall consensus is that the views were decidedly worth it.

Decide What Works for Your Family

We parents know what our children can and can’t handle on long outings, so it’s worth weighing if your children are the right age to visit Arashiyama. While the bamboo grove itself is relatively short, children without a stroller should wear supportive shoes and be able to walk moderate-to-long distances to ensure an easy afternoon. A stroll across the adjacent Tsutenkyo Bridge brings your family from the bamboo grove over to the monkey park, but you should be prepared for a hike of 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the crowds.

Decide How You’ll Travel

Like many scenic areas and tourist hot spots in Japan, the Arashiyama grove and surrounding points of interest are accessible by train and the Japan Rail Pass. Taking this route into the area can be a lengthy trip. When my brothers and I traveled on the bullet train in the 70’s we met three very impressive and extremely friendly sumo wrestlers who made the trip very entertaining. Or you can rent a car and drive to the Arashiyama grove. While driving in takes a bit more effort than hopping on the train, it also affords more flexibility in scheduling arrival and departure. Arriving early – between 7 and 7:30 am – is an absolute must if stunning pictures are a priority. Around 8:30 am, crowds begin to mass, and I found it a bit difficult to get shots of us and the bamboo without other people in the background.

A fun tourist area with scenic views, interesting activities for children and adults alike, and a beautiful riverside location awaits at the Arashiyama grove. Bamboo, while a humble and incredibly useful plant, becomes a true work of art in this towering grove of green. Ideal for a refreshing dose of nature and an undeniably Japanese experience, our visit here – one in which plenty of spectacular pictures were taken – was a trip that my children will remember fondly all their lives.

Nabila Khashoggi travels extensively with her own children, believing it broadens their horizons, fosters tolerance and understanding, and ensures a global perspective of the planet.

#nabilakhashoggi #khashoggi #lifestyle #explore #habits #nabilaK #spartanandthegreenegg





Visit Our Facebook PageVisit Our Facebook PageVisit Our Facebook PageVisit Our Facebook Page