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Say Yes To No: Using The Power Of No To Create The Best In Life, Work, and Love Paperback – March 3, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Why is it so hard to say no? Pastor, writer and ex-New Yorker Cootsona explores the bevy of reasons why we say yes too often, and then delves into the virtues of no. Overworked and in bad health, the author describes how he had to embrace no in order to save his marriage, his career and his very life. Saying no, however, does not involve being negative or mean toward others. Technology, noise and too much entertainment are the primary culprits responsible for pulling us away from the important goals of our lives. These deserve our most emphatic no! The author does not recommend a radical restructuring of life, but suggests a helpful balance between being in the world and carving out time for silence, contemplation, family life and relaxation. Utilizing his gifts as a jazz drummer to drum up a helpful analogy, Cootsona describes how practice, listening and even improvisation can lead to making better choices in life. While much of the spiritual advice is not novel, the author's personal experience, unique presentation and eagerness serve to animate tried and true ideas. (Jan. 6)
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About the Author

GREG COOTSONA is a pastor at Bidwell Presbyterian Church in Chico, California. Formerly, he ministered at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City, where he headed the Center for Christian Studies. Greg is married, with two young daughters.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385525737
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385525732
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Greg Cootsona ([...]) is not only Pastor of Adult Discipleship at Bidwell Presbyterian Church in Chico, CA; he's also a drummer and jazz aficionado. "Jazz improvisation," he writes, "illustrates some keys to a successful life. First of all, say no to chaos: By mastering your instrument and knowing the changes. Say no to overplanning: Life is not fixed. You cannot predict every detail. Relax, stay loose, and take in what life gives. Finally, say yes to improvising a life of spontaneity, creativity, and beauty." One's highest calling is to say yes to God.

That means removing the obstacles, such as submersion in technology or work, that hinder our flourishing. You'll find no better guide than "Say Yes To No: Using the Power of NO to Create the Best in Life, Work, and Love." The book is addressed especially to those who may not have a religious identification but who are spiritually open. It's for those caught up in the quest for wealth, fame, position but who long for a life of integrity.

As a young pastor at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City, the pressure of work and a series of family challenges began to affect his health. The chest pains, "a racing heart and shortness of breath, my head spinning with unfinished tasks at home and at work," led him, at age 38, into a doctor's care. That was in March 2001. Not many months later the church became a haven in the aftermath of 9/11. He realized the higher priorities in life required a series of nos to lesser ones.

Saying no, with grace and conviction, doesn't make one a negative person, but one who has the freedom to be "on the right road." That road includes Sabbath, the goal of which "is not idleness but a proper rhythm of work and rest." It's about finding the greatest yes of all.
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I teach "academic" philosophy which means that smugness toward "self help" books is virtually part of my job description. But Cootsona, being both a jazz drummer and a reader of Plato and Aristotle, breaks such stereotypes. He obviously understands the Greek notion of virtue as the only path to lasting happiness. But creating an excellent life requires "practical wisdom" (not more rules!). It requires, says Cootsona, the skills of a jazz musicians. You must know what's going on around you; you must master your instrument; you must listen to others; and then--improvise!
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Format: Paperback
I just finished Say Yes to No. I dove into the introduction, gaining instant insight into the author, feeling friendship from this pastor, author and theologian. It was more like a conversation than a read. I felt that the author opened himself up so that together we could try to feel the rhythms of life. My time with the book was more like a conversation than a read. I was taking a Sabbath of sorts in Carmel California. Through the book, I found myself paying attention to the spaces more that the substance. Those spaces were filled with pleasure.
Dr. Cootsona also weaves just the right amount of how faith enters into our decisions in life. We certainly should not say no the Lord, but we sure do! The last chapter of Say Yes to No does a good job of explaining what is meant by saying yes to the Lord.
I thank the author for his many years of hard work to allow me to begin to understand that we can synchronize our lives with the rhythms of Gods' creations. Whether it be interactions with our families, our businesses, our faith or simply feeling our personal purpose, we need insight on the intangible. I look forward to a conversation with others on how the book may have guided and directed individual lives. An extra bonus, I am listening to jazz more often so I can enjoy the improvisations and apply them to my life.
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Greg Cootsona is an engaging story teller. This is particularly important, in an odd way, because of the nature of this story. Those that would perhaps benefit the most from reading Dr. Cootsona's book are almost certainly those who are the least likely to pick it up or follow a friend's recommendation. But his story is immediately arresting, very straight-from-the-shoulder, and personal. There is no pretense; just a clear reflection about how easy it has become in this age and culture to paint yourself into a corner.

In former playground times, a favorite "game" was dogpile on...well, whoever the group mind didn't like that day. Greg talks us through how we no longer need help from others because we do a better job of burying ourselves in committments and busyness than any group could do for us. Through difficult and painful personal experience, he describes a tunnel that is all too familiar to many of us. But he hasn't forgotten the light!

More comprehensive in many respects than a mere discussion of borders, boundaries, or margin in our lives, Dr. Cootsona describes what our lives and culture have made of us and then critcally examines the "way out" through reclaiming the truly important elements of existence. Whether it is marriage, work, family, friends, relationships, the Sabbath, or Jesus, he speaks with clarity and frankness into some blurred areas of American life.

As for friends and relationships - the beacons guiding several generations working their way through life on this continent - he says this: "We are made for relationships. We are not even really ourselves unless we have friends and unless we serve others. The potency of friendship - a value, I feel, too few Americans know - is a gift that depends on saying yes to no.
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