31 Important Things You Should Say ‘No’ to for a Happier Life

And how to do it

Danny Forest


An illustration of a man taking notes, with a flow chart of “Things to Say ‘No’ to” superimposed on top of the man.
Illustrations: Danny Forest. Click for interactive version.

AAntoine de Saint-Exupéry, the aviator and author of The Little Prince, said: “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

I’d say the same is true of happiness. I’m a happy man not only for the things I do, but also for the things I don’t do. In 2019, I set out to say “no” more frequently so I could focus my time on the things that mattered to me and the people I care for. It was the happiest year of my life so far.

I’ve created a list of what you can say “no” to, and how to do it. This guide is comprehensive, and not everything will apply to you. Because of that, I’m including a table of contents so you can jump to the things that may be relevant to your life. Read them, and start taking your life back into your hands.

*See Appendix A at the bottom for visual representations.

Table of Contents

*Feel free to highlight those you agree with or those you want to work on.

1. Procrastination
2. Negative self-talk
3. Perfection
4. Excuses
5. Comparing to others
6. The snooze button
7. Partying every night
8. Stimulants before bed
9. Food with no…



Danny Forest
Writer for

Polymath. Life Optimizer. Learner. Entrepreneur. Engineer. Writer.