Bestselling Massachusetts Author Michael Tougias Pens Self-Help, Children’s Books

MENDON — New York Times bestselling author Michael Tougias, who grew up in Springfield and Longmeadow, has learned the importance of saying “no,” but he has also said “yes” to writing two new books.

The adult one, “No Will Set You Free: Learn to Say No, Set Boundaries, Stop Having Fun, and Live Fuller Lives,” helps people set boundaries and regain control of their time while reducing stress. It was released by Mango Publishing.

Topics/chapters include No to peer pressure – at any age, when leaning on yes, easy nos: creating more time for you, no and your children, careful use of no with your partner and relatives, no and your health, no with Work and no is not selfish.

The second book, co-written with Doug Stanton, is the young adult book “In Harms Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Story of Its Survivors.” It is his sixth book in his True Rescue Series with Henry Holt and Company.

“They were such different books that I had to work on them separately,” said Tougias, a 15-year-old columnist for The Republican who now lives in Mendon.

As he thought about what he might have wanted to do differently in his younger days, he realized that he should have said “no” more often so that he could better manage his time. “I realized how much better I am today at setting boundaries and considering the request carefully before I say yes. This had left me feeling more relaxed and content,” he said.

He deliberately cut the chapters of “No Will Set You Free” short, hoping that people would read one chapter a day over their morning coffee and then practice some of the tips that day.

Tougias sees a “beauty of no;” setting boundaries allows one to focus on what is important. For him, that means more time for his family, his health, his hobbies, cycling, being in nature and writing. “By saying no to a lot of things that don’t contribute to these core activities that bring me joy, I live a much more fulfilling life,” he said. “I have a sense of purpose instead of feeling distracted from fulfilling other people’s priorities. … It is ingrained in us as children to want to help, but there is only so much time in the day, and when you say yes to every request, you help others and not your own dreams and priorities.”

Side effects of not being able to say no are weekends that aren’t your own, projects that are half done, stress, little time to focus on your health, etc. “No Will Set You Free” gives you the tools to time,” he said.

People are taught not to hurt the feelings of others and to always be polite. Being a “yes” person is a difficult habit to break. In the book, Tougias cites the work of many psychologists in motivating people to develop techniques to say no comfortably. “In some cases, a person has to take small steps to take their time back,” he said. “At the beginning of your journey, you may feel too uncomfortable to just say ‘no thank you’, and for those people I recommend having a standard response of ‘I’ll check my schedule and get back to you .’ Then later you can text or email ‘I can’t.’”

Of the 38 eight books he has written or co-authored, writing “No Will Set You Free” has been smoother than any other. “That’s when I knew I had a passion for the message I wanted to share,” he said.

Tougias has a presentation on the subject and speaks in libraries across Massachusetts. Check out his schedule at

Commenting on the young adult book about the sinking of the Indianapolis, he said he has written many books for young adults and says of children online or when presenting in schools, “I’m not a big reader, but I finished your book in three or four nights.”

That’s exactly what he wants to hear, because his mantra when he writes is, “Hold on fast.”

He chose this topic and to work with Stanton because teachers told him there is a need for narrative non-fiction. “’In Harms Way’ combines history with a gripping story of men overcoming incredible adversity, and those are the topics I’ve written about many times in the True Rescue Series,” he explained.

Many of his books deal with untold stories of individuals who have survived against all odds: “I think I combined that interest with my love for everything to do with water – from the ocean to rivers. Nature can take a while. ruthless as beautiful, but that’s part of her allure.”

Tougias is the author and co-author of books for adults and children like “Above & Beyond”, “So Close To Home”, “The Finest Hours” (A Disney Movie), “Ten Hours Until Dawn”, “Fatal Forecast” , “King Philips War” and “There’s a porcupine in my outhouse!”

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