Saying no to some things gives us the opportunity to say yes to the things that mean the most.

Face it: you never want to decline a Facebook invitation, even if you know you should take a night to rest after a long work week. Or maybe you attempt to fit more side projects into your already busy schedule out of fear that saying no will hurt your chances in advancing in your career. So you say yes to everything, because you think that experiencing something halfway is better than missing out entirely on the experience.  

But saying yes to everything out of fear that we might miss out on something leaves us feeling stretched too thin and unable to truly enjoy whatever we are involved in. The only way to fully appreciate and experience the important events and opportunities is to learn to say no.

In her book “Present Over Perfect,” Shauna Niequist says, “You can’t have yes without no. Another way to say it: if you’re not careful with your yeses, you start to say no to some very important things without even realizing it. In my rampant yes-yes-yes-ing, I said no, without intending to, to rest, to peace, to groundedness, to listening, to deep and slow connection, built over years instead of moments.”

In a study by Texas A&M University, Dr. Darlene McLaughlin encourages young people to approach the fear of missing out by re-framing their thoughts. Instead of looking outward and always being focused on the “better” things out there, McLaughlin suggests looking inward and exploring why you’re dissatisfied with your current situation. This simple exercise can help you make decisions based on your authentic self instead of what you feel obligated to do out of social pressure.

At first it may be difficult to decline some invitations and opportunities. We might feel guilt because we don’t want to disappoint someone else. But once the habit of committing without the underlying fear of missing out settles in, so too will a deeper appreciation for the moments and opportunities in which we are present.