The generosity of “no”

I read a phrase this week that has stuck with me: “The generosity of no.”

I’ve had to get better at saying no. Now, before I go too far down this path, let me qualify this post by acknowledging that saying “yes” can and often does allow for tremendous growth, diversity of thought, and connection. The old saying that “life goes to those who show up” is real.

At the same time, whenever we say “yes” to something or someone, we’re automatically saying “no” to other things and other people. And vice versa. When we say no, we carve out space to say yes.

Sometimes we’re aware of the specifics of our trade off. More often we’re not (at least not to its full extent).

But I was intrigued by this phrase because I can’t say that I have contemplated “no” as an act of generosity.

What if we approached every decision from an intentional point of generosity, asking ourselves, which would be more generous? Yes, or no?

One of the best things we always have to offer – to the world, to the ones we love, to the people we work for and with – is ourselves. Ourselves when we are fully alive. Becoming that person – living from a space of wholeness – takes a lot of intention. It takes saying “yes” to the things we value most, which often involves saying “yes” to things that scare us. It means saying “no” to things that aren’t in alignment with the person we want to be.

Saying no can be an act of generosity. To yourself, and to the other people involved.

I’m not necessarily advocating for saying no more often, but maybe holding yes and no with the same weight, and both without judgment.

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