Magazine article Psychology Today

The Mind's White Space

Magazine article Psychology Today

The Mind's White Space

Article excerpt

IT IS DIFFICULT to say no to others, as evidenced by our cover story, "The Hardest Word." But it is hard to say no to oneself for entirely different reasons. A never-ending negativity bias compels us to look for what's missing in every room, routine, and relationship, making it tough to see what should be excised from our lives.

On one level this is a question of time management. I like the Four Burners Theory that people pass around online: The quadrants are work, health, family, and friends. To be successful you must turn one burner off. To be really successful, extinguish two. It's a brutal-but-realistic formula to manage an overstuffed life. I'd add that to accomplish anything substantive, you need to power down the smartphone that seduces us more readily than the slow-cooking stove most days.

A no on behalf of oneself can create a ripple effect; the burners ebb and die in concert, opening the way for entirely new experiences. …

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