How Busy Are You? The Power of Saying 'No'

Liz Pryor, "Dear GMA" Advice Guru finalist, talks about living in the moment.

Jan. 26, 2011 — -- Although we're all so wildly different from one another, it's incredible how similar our life experiences can be, regardless of the specifics of our lives. What we have, what we do, how we think -- whatever our differences, we all seem to feel things similarly.

I'd like to try and tackle a subject of experience that appears to be permeating our society at an epidemic me crazy but, how busy are you? Uh huh, what has happened to us? The pace at which our daily lives are running is staggering, with our tasks and responsibilities continuing to rise. Why? Is it technology? Media? Society? The dog? Who really knows, but we're paying for it in ways most of us don't even realize.

Daily life may sound mundane and simplistic, but the truth is, it's what matters the most. It's the journey. When you find yourself tapping your foot through your child's first chorus solo 'cause you've got to get back to work or go to the gym. Or you sit in a movie theatre going over in your mind what you forgot to get at the grocery store, or you decide to clean out the car while your husband is telling you what happened at know that you're missing the good stuff, right? Most of us are smart enough to know it, even in the moment, but we're so caught up in it all, we don't know how to change it.

If I reminded you right now to breathe, do yoga, exercise, take walks, take a nap occasionally, and have sex, would you hear me? We all know what we should be doing; some even do it. However, it can feel about as effective as hearing the word "relax" during labor.

I applaud our courage to believe we can tackle so much of life on a daily basis, and at the same time I question what it's doing to us, to our family, our work, and our souls.

Go all the way back to what it is you really know...yourself. Take a step off of your life, and look in just for a day. How many things do you have to accomplish? Take all of that and calculate how much of your thought process is impeded by the taunting of these thoughts daily, by how and when you're going to get to them. It's a lot of distraction. Ever notice when you have a day that feels pretty good, your sense of accomplishment feels intact, your sense of peace comes back, and time for a little happiness happens? You know -- when it all aligns and it's good? That's the aim, but it can't be random.

How Busy Are You?

There's a word few of us like to use when it comes to our daily lives, especially with ourselves. The word is "no". Think about it. Yes, there are mandatory life tasks daily. But believe it or not, the mandatory tasks make up a fraction of what we do everyday. If our lives are that full, it is possible to quit a class, tell a child too many sports is not working for the family, tell a boss you can't take the work home, lock your Blackberry in a closet, and turn the phone off. These are all ways we can say no. What used to be a day of work was when a person left an office at 5 p.m.. Those days are over. We are living in an eternally accessible world. Good or bad, it is what it is. Rather than waiting until your life literally buzzes into overload and you're forced to temporarily turn away for self preservation, you could think about some adjusting.

In a world that provides such an abundance of assistance from the outside, sometimes you're just better off reaching inside to get what you need. Give it some thought. Give it that kind of old fashioned "no one can do it for you the way you can" thought. And decide what you want your everyday life to look like. Would you, as they say, rather "sort of" be in a thousand moments, or "truly" be in fifteen moments? It's not about five quick and easy steps, or making more "me" time right now, it's about taking an honest look at what you've fallen into and making a few changes, if only in your thoughts. See your life clearly first, adjust and pare down where you can, and learn how to say no. Aim for something just a little less… every day.