N-o spells no. That's what your parents taught you when you were little, and you quickly learned to employ it whenever vegetables or a request to clean up came your way. You've been using the short but effective word ever since -- to decline invitations, to tell your dog to back away from your bagel, to respond to your mom's suggestion that you take your hair out of a ponytail -- and many of these occasions are deserving of it. Saying yes to everything is a surefire way to wear yourself out. And if you're too much of a yes-(wo)man, friends will stop asking your opinion.
However, the opposite extreme is equally problematic. The sometimes overwhelming pace of modern life can make it tempting to operate in a default no mode. No to weeknight plans, no to the spontaneous drink or coffee with a friend, no situations or projects that are challenging but might ultimately help us grow. When you say yes to something -- even when it can be time-consuming or intimidating or difficult -- you open yourself up to a payoff that can make you question how you even thought about saying no. Consider the list below a start, a guide to help you move away from your go-to answer (if that's the case) or simply to experience a few more enjoyable moments. "The dress," as it turns out, isn't the other thing worth saying yes to.
18 Things You Should Say Yes To
1. A day spent in your pajamas. Comedian John Mulaney does a bit about how blissful adults sound when they tell each other they did nothing over the weekend. That's because it's so rare that it's a treat. Do you have a to-do list for Saturdays? Do you set an alarm? No judgment -– we all have things to get done. But it’s also totally acceptable to spend hours lying on the couch watching old episodes of “My So-Called Life” or multiple football games or whatever you had on before you took an unplanned nap.
2. “Friday Night Lights.” Or “The Wire.” Or “Breaking Bad.” Basically, one of those shows that everyone says you would love and you know you would love but you haven't sat down to watch because that means five seasons of hour-long episodes. Remember that no one’s asking you to watch it all by next week -- you take your time and watch an episode or four whenever you have a free evening. Also, using the better portion of a Saturday to watch six episodes straight doesn't make you a waste of space. You deserve relaxation. And the only person keeping score is you.
3. That salted caramel ice cream sundae. It's calling to you (loudly) from the dessert menu, but you don’t want to be the one to suggest it. Realize that everyone else at the table is thinking about it too –- and even if they're not, they're not going to decline an extra spoon. Order it and you'll be doing everyone a favor.
4. Some help. You want to believe you can handle everything, from getting your work done to running those seven errands to booking that flight to your high school reunion and that other one to attend your cousin's wedding. In the meantime, your boyfriend is going to be right by the dry cleaners and could easily pick up your clothes. Why make things harder on yourself? Accept a little assistance and volunteer to help him another day.
5. A party where you won’t know many people. Unless you’re one of those people who can start a conversation with anyone, it can be awkward to show up at an event where you merely recognize people or don’t know them at all. Don’t let this be an excuse to automatically decline. Invite a buddy so you’re not fake-checking your phone the whole night, then at least stop by. You could meet someone interesting, personally or professionally.
6. Vacation days. You worry about being out of the office, how it will look to the boss, whether you’ll have to dump some of your work on your already-overburdened co-workers. Here’s the thing: Your company gives you these days, but no one is going to beg you to take them. It’s up to you to look at the calendar, find a time that works and take the days you've earned. You might feel a little anxious when you leave the office before your trip, but remind yourself that everyone needs time off and taking it will probably make you a more productive employee when you return -- not to mention a happier human being.
7. A long phone call with your friend who lives far away. It's certainly much easier to text and @ and write on walls, but these options can’t compete with the back and forth of a real conversation. The "your turn, my turn” setup of electronic communication makes the organic flow of a conversation impossible. You're much less likely to talk over one another as your excitement about a memory escalates or catch each other's contagious laughter. LOL doesn’t count. Sry.
8. New technology. When Hannah on "Girls" questions why another intern was hired, her boss explains that "Joy Lin knows Photoshop." There's something telling about this line that goes beyond that workplace and software: You need to embrace technology. Maybe you’ve relied on others to work with certain software or apps or you've told yourself you won’t really need them. The truth is, shying away from technology isn't going to make it stop, and the more you avoid it, the harder it will be to catch up. So sign up for Instagram, ask a friend to teach you Tumblr and, yes, finally learn Photoshop.
9. Your naturally wavy hair. You use the flat-iron or blow-dryer every single day -- in fact, many of your friends don't even know what your non-heated hair looks like. If that’s what makes you feel ready to faec the day, carry on. But if you’re doing it because you think it makes a better impression on others, you may be wasting your time. Skip the straightener for a few days, and friends and co-workers may express jealousy that you wake up with such pretty waves.
10. An electronic diet. HuffPost’s executive lifestyle editor, Lori Leibovich, went on one when she took her kids to Maine this summer and realized how attached she had become to her devices. It’s unrealistic to forgo technology entirely these days (see No. 8), but a short break can help you refocus on the important things happening in your life away from your many screens.
11. A completely unnecessary but completely awesome outfit. You should never have even tried it on. You were hoping it wouldn’t fit, and that would answer the question of whether to buy it. Of course, it had to look fantastic -- so flattering and so unlike anything in your closet. Now, definitely don’t buy it if that will mean you can’t pay the rent. But otherwise, if you find an outfit that makes you feel confident and attractive, it might be worth the splurge. After all, no one is going to admire the outfit you almost bought.
12. Tahitian dance lessons. That's what HuffPost Weddings associate editor Stephanie Hallett has been doing (and loving) lately. After 22 years of dancing in mostly the same style (we hear that she's an amazing hip-hop instructor, she decided to try something that was out of her comfort zone, a concept that translates to other activities as well. Trying a new form of exercise doesn't mean you have to abandon your usual workout routine, but changing it up a couple of days a week can keep you from getting bored with the running or weights you're used to, and work muscles you may have neglected for a while. Sure, it can be scary to step into a yoga, Zumba or spin class, but that’s the hardest part. Tell yourself all you have to do is get through the door, and the instructor will take care of the rest.
13. Romance. You’ve gone out with a lot of real duds, people who seemed to lack basic social skills or who weren’t who you thought they were. Also, you constantly hear, read and utter a stream of snarky, cynical comments about the impossibility of any of us ever being happy with another human. Resist the urge to stop believing in romance. People still plan surprises and give flowers and do thoughtful little things to show they care. They also say “I love you” and mean it.
14. Britney Spears, the karaoke version. You’ve always been an excellent cheerleader for your more outgoing friends, but when they ask you what you plan to sing, you demur. Listen, you're in a private room with friends and probably alcohol, and you don’t have to offer your rendition of “At Last.” Just go up there with a partner and belt out "Oops! ... I Did It Again." (Seriously, it's fun.) Plus, even those without the microphones will be so focused on the monitor and on singing to each other that you won't really feel the spotlight you've been dreading.
15. Lunch away from your desk. You think you have way too much work to take advantage of such a luxury. We thought so too, until HuffPost Women did an experiment for a week, and we got to know our colleagues, even the ones we sit right next to, a little better. And nothing fell apart.
16. An uncluttered inbox. Deleting all of the junk seems like a Sisyphean endeavor given the volume that comes in every day, but there’s no way you need 44,711… 44,712 … 44,713 ... there’s no way you need all that email. Starting fresh with zero -- or at least only items from the past month -- will make you feel more in control.
17. Dinner with an older person in your life. If your grandmother has been telling you she wants to treat you to a nice meal, stop putting it off and take her up on it. There's probably a lot about your family you don't know, and she just might surprise you with some of her stories. If you don't have grandparents or aren't close to them, consider spending time with the parents of a friend or making friends of your own who have a decade or four on you. Their memories and wisdom are enough to fill several dinners.
18. The idea that things are going to work out. There will always be things that make you anxious, and some decisions will, in fact, be life-changing. But realize that even if you do try to plan everything perfectly, you will inevitably face challenges you couldn’t have predicted. Have enough faith in yourself and the people in your life to believe that, no matter what happens, you’ll figure out how to deal with it and go from there.
What else should we start saying yes to? Add your ideas in the comments or tweet @HuffPostWomen using the hashtag #sayyesnow.