I’ve been a little bit TED-obsessed lately and this week stumbled upon an interesting video that spoke volumes to me: The Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, presented by Sarah Knight (which seems to be a condensed version of her book on the same topic).
In a nutshell, this TEDx talk is all about setting boundaries and learning to say no. It’s about deciding which tasks, events, obligations and relationships deserve our time, energy and money – then acting accordingly, with honesty and politeness. This is what Sarah Knight calls her “NotSorry” method. I like her tongue-in-cheek nod to Marie Kondo’s tidying method – which she seems to lightheartedly disparage – and which, in my opinion, the “NotSorry” method perfectly complements.
That’s because for me, living a simpler life is not only about decluttering my surroundings but also about simplifying my day-to-day life, including critically analysing the things on my to-do list and scrapping those I don’t feel deserve my time. The latter is something I’m still working on! The message Sarah Knight is getting across here seems extremely logical, but for a long-time people-pleaser like me, hearing this kind of message is incredibly encouraging and inspiring. I’ve already watched the video a number of times and plan on coming back to it regularly to remind me how important the art of just saying no is.
If you’d like to watch the video yourself (it’s quite short), here it is (Note: language warning – not suitable for children or those offended by strong language!).
While I found a lot of value in this talk, I was intrigued by the commentary on the video, which was quite varied. Some commenters praised Sarah Knight and seemed excited to begin implementing the method in their own lives, while others thought the talk reeked of privilege and thought she had outlined a recipe for self-centredness.
Personally, I can’t agree with the self-centredness argument, firstly because I believe that when you decline something with honesty and politeness, it really is perfectly acceptable. There’s nothing wrong with putting ourselves first if we respect others’ feelings in the process. Secondly, mastering the art of saying no doesn’t preclude us from doing things we may not necessarily enjoy but which bring value to our lives. For example, if a friend was going through a rough time and asked me to assist them with something which didn’t really appeal to me in and of itself, I would most likely say yes not out of obligation but because my love for that person would make it a valuable investment of my time and energy. To me this is very different from doing something because I want to impress – or not disappoint – someone.
My major takeaway from this was that I really need to be more intentional about putting myself first. While I’m getting better at saying no, I’ll still quite often agree to something when my heart just isn’t in it. If I learn to say yes when I mean yes and no when I mean no, it means I can stop worrying about trying to get out of something I’ve already committed to, or having to go through with it while dreading it. I also think this is fairer on the people around us. While it’s not easy to see our friends, family members or co-workers disappointed by a ‘no’, it’s also not fair on them if they think they can count on us but we are not fully present and engaged in what we are doing.
What do you think of Sarah Knight’s “NotSorry” method? Self-centred gimmick or key to greater happiness? Do you think this kind of ‘mental decluttering’ plays an important role in living a simpler life? I’d love to know!