The Happiness Project

A chronicle of my attempts to test-drive every tip, principle and scientific study that promotes happiness

How Do You Ask For Help? Why Bother?

Why is it so tough to ask for help?

One of my Secrets of Adulthood is “It’s okay to ask for help,” and one of my resolutions is to “Ask for help.” Why I find this simple act so difficult, I don’t know. But I know that other people do, too -- for example, the excellent Marci Alboher just wrote about how to ask for help.

I don’t like to admit I don’t know something or understand how to do something, and feel even more uncomfortable and sheepish when I ask for help promoting my work. I was comforted when I read this confession in Samuel Butler’s Note-Books: “I was nearly forty before I felt how stupid it was to pretend to know things that I did not know and I still often catch myself doing so.”

The thing is, asking for help really – helps. It makes my life a lot easier and more pleasant. And that makes me happier.

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So now I’m going to ask for help getting the word out about The Happiness Project. If you’re so inclined, it would be a huge help if you’d forward the link to this blog to three people who might be interested. Do you know someone facing a happiness challenge? Someone very interested in the subject of happiness? Word of mouth is the best recommendation; people really respect their friends’ suggestions.

Also, if you’re inclined to buy the book The Happiness Project, it would a huge help if you’d pre-order it. The book hasn’t hit the shelves yet, but early interest brings all sorts of benefits for a book. Buzz at the beginning really matters.

So, phew, I did it. I asked for help. Not just one kind of help, but two!

Asking for help boosts happiness, because not only does it make your life easier, it demonstrates that you have a social network that supports you. What’s more, asking for help is a sign of relationship and trust. As Benjamin Franklin recommended, “If you want to make a friend, let someone do you a favor.” I remember someone at work telling me, “I never liked that guy until he asked to borrow $50. Then I realized he must consider me a friend, and presto! I started liking him.”

Also, by asking for help, you’re boosting other people’s happiness. Studies show that for happiness, providing support is just as important as getting support. Often, people like to help. I know I like to help. That’s part A of the Second Splendid Truth, also known as “Do good, feel good.”

Do you find it difficult to ask for help? When you do ask for help, does it make you happier?

* On Gimundo I found this happy video of fun with sticky notes -- by EepyBird, the same people who did the Diet Coke and Mentos experiment.

* Interested in starting your own happiness project? If you’d like to take a look at my personal Resolutions Chart, for inspiration, just email me at grubin, then the “at” sign, then gretchenrubin dot com. (Sorry about writing it in that roundabout way; I’m trying to thwart spammers.) Just write “Resolutions Chart” in the subject line.

Gretchen Rubin is the author of The Happiness Project, a book and a blog about her adventures learning to be happier.

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