I have a habit – you might even call it a practice – of saying yes a lot. When an invitation comes along, I tend to push past my preference for spending the evening in my pajamas, and accept. Usually I’m richly rewarded for the effort.

What I haven’t fully appreciated, though, is the reward of saying no.

This week I said no to a couple of things I would normally have accepted, and I was surprised by how good it felt. This is a source of pleasure I’ve been underestimating!

A nice woman invited Summer House Soaps to be a last-minute participant in a holiday craft fair. It sounded like a sweet little show, but we’d just finished our last craft show and were feeling DONE. I wasn’t saying no to the show as much as yes to the shift to non-show activities (like starting my Christmas shopping!)

Right now, I could be at the Cape Cinema with my husband watching a Met Live broadcast of the opera Don Carlos. It’s supposed to be an incredible, wrenching performance, and I’m sure I would walk out feel enriched. But I’m saying yes to my need for a little quiet time at home.

Once, during a discussion at a meditation retreat about maintaining life balance, a young man said, “It’s hard to keep saying no to awesomeness.”  Translation: in order to make time for ourselves, we frequently have to say no – not just to demands that we’d like to get out of  – but to things that are awesome and wonderful.

The trick, I guess, is to identify the more subtle things we want, like quiet, rest and restoration. Those things don’t come wrapped in glossy packages, and they don’t have enticing invitations or advertising, so it’s easy to overlook them. But when we say yes to them and stick with it, it can be awesome too.