A key to happiness: ASK FOR HELP. Why? Because other people can help you solve your problems. Amazing.

I was so, so, so annoyed. The “t” key on my laptop was sticking. Turns out that the letter “t” comes up a lot in writing.

At first, I pretended it wasn’t happening.

Then I told myself it would go away after I’d turned the laptop on and off a few times.

Then I tried to pretend that it would fix itself if I just kept typing.

Then I was plunged into gloom, imagining the effort and expense it was going to take to replace the key, or the whole keyboard – or, I feared, the laptop itself. Surely not. But I couldn’t continue without a workable “t.”

At last, I remembered one of my most useful Secrets of Adulthood (see left column): “It’s okay to ask for help.”

I emailed a friend who knows a huge amount about computers to ask — why was my “t” sticking? Was there anything I could do to fix it? Was I going to have to replace the key or keyboard?

He answered: “Turn off the laptop, then rub the keyboard with washcloth dampened with warm water and a little soap. Let it dry. See if that helps.”

Could it really be so simple? YES.

That was all it took to fix the “t.”

Zoikes, that made me happy. Samuel Johnson observed, “To live in perpetual want of little things is a state, not indeed of torture, but of constant vexation.” Wanting that “t” was pure vexation, and bliss to get it back.

Now I have a new appreciation for my beloved, sturdy, reliable laptop. I won’t take it for granted – at least for a few days. And I fixed it MYSELF — after I asked for help.

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A blog I discovered through LifeRemix is LifeClever, though I’m surprised I hadn’t found it before. It’s just the kind of mix of tips and information about work and life that I love — with a strong theme on design, which is a subject that I always want to learn more about.

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  • http://www.modern-worker.com Modern Worker

    I’m similar in that sense, Gretchen. I like to do things myself but it can be so refreshing when someone lends me a hand. There’s a balance I’ve found between being independent and knowing when to get assistance.

  • http://jackiedanicki.com Jackie Danicki

    Even better: If you can get online, you can turn to Google first, and avoid that second line of support unless you really need it. I do this ALL the time.
    I would add that, as someone who gets asked for help an awful lot, I do appreciate it when someone has obviously done at least a little bit of research on their own before turning to me. My time is valuable and I am more than happy to help those who acknowledge that, trying first to help themselves by doing a little digging. What is annoying is when someone emails me with a question that would have easily been answered with even a cursory web search. So I try always to get my hands a bit dirty first before I ask others to so for me. THIS makes me even happier, as I have full confidence that I did what I could to help myself.

  • http://www.gretchenrubin.com Gretchen Rubin

    That’s a good point — to use some initiative to try to solve problems yourself. Even now, I sometimes forget that I can look for an answer on the internet — so much information is there, but you have to look for it. My problem, usually, is that I forget that a solution even exists. That’s when asking other people is a huge save.

  • Nick

    “Could it really be so simple? YES.
    That was all it took to fix the “t.”
    Zoikes, that made me happy”
    No, Gretchen, dear…that didn’t make you happy. You were already happy.
    This simple act removed a block which allowed you to be happy again.

  • http://www.dsmbuzz.com sherry Borzo

    Hey Gretchen,
    When you say, “Wanting that “t” was pure vexation, and bliss to get it back.” That makes me think of all the times I mislay my purse and then go into an almost immediate freak because I can’t find it. Either on my own or with a little help from calmer minds the thing always turns up in a few minutes. The bliss I feel upon knowing I’ve not lost all my stuff is always such a high. It is like the ride of anxiety and the joy of realizing I’m safe again is such a ride. I must want to put myself through that for some reason rather than remaining calm. Strange.

  • http://www.patsyterrell.com Patsy Terrell

    Oh Gretchen! You miracle worker! I have been pretending like the “2” on my laptop keyboard was just fine, when in reality I was having it bang it repeatedly when trying to write an email address or use the 2. I just tried your magic washcloth (similar to a magic wand) trick and it seems better. I’m waiting for it to dry before turning it on and giving it a try.

  • nand

    entirely agree.
    even there is a book “ALADIN FACTOR”on the power of asking.Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen,the author of Chicken Soup series have beautifully brought out the advantages of asking not only for help but anything and everything.

  • http://themusingsofinihtar.blogspot.com Inihtar

    Asking for help not only makes you happy but also the person you’re asking (within limits of course). I always think 52 times before asking someone even a simple question (which equates to a lot of thinking because I’ve just moved to a country where I don’t speak or read the language and so need a lot of help). I always think I’m bothering others by asking but often find that they’re really happy to help. . . even if it’s mostly because they feel sorry for me!

  • http://www.windowshoppist.com Shoppista

    Sticky letters are the worst. In case it ever happens again, it’s also possible to pry the letters off (they snap right back on again afterwards). Sometimes there’s a little crumb or piece of gunk underneath you can tweeze out, or you can clean the area with a damp Q-tip. Turn off and unplug the keyboard first, obvi. :)
    Btw, love your blog! I only recently discovered it.

  • Observer

    “it’s also possible to pry the letters off (they snap right back on again afterwards)”
    Except that on some laptop keyboards, they don’t :-(

  • http://profile.typekey.com/msporer/ Michael Sporer

    Gretchen;
    I have a tendency to immediately think the worst when situations lke that occur, and quickly get into “panic” mode. Asking for help is one of the things I do to handle that tendency. Things are rarely as bad as my first impression dictates. Improving habits like that take time, but the effort is worth it!
    BTW, I am new to your blog, and it is bcoming a daily stop for me.