Tag Archives: reciprocity

To Make a Friend, Ask Someone For a Favor.

I’m working on my Happiness Project, and you could have one, too! Everyone’s project will look different, but it’s the rare person who can’t benefit. Join in — no need to catch up, just jump in right now. Each Friday’s post will help you think about your own happiness project.

Here’s a resolution that might sound counter-intuitive: Ask for a favor.

Ask for help, for advice, for suggestions. Asking for a favor is a sign of intimacy and trust. It shows that you feel comfortable being indebted to someone. I remember a friend at work telling me, “I never liked that guy until he told me he needed to borrow $50 from me. Then I realized he must consider me a friend, and presto! I started liking him.”

Studies show that for happiness, providing support is just as important as getting support. By offering people a way to provide support, you generate good feelings in them.

So asking, and receiving, a favor generates good feelings on both sides.

Obviously, there are small favors and big favors. You don’t want to ask someone to take care of your dog while you’re on vacation unless that person is already a CLOSE friend. But asking for a recommendation for a good dentist isn’t burdensome.

One of my most helpful Secrets of Adulthood is It’s okay to ask for help. Asking for help is a very useful way of asking for a favor. I’m absolutely mystified by asking for help is so hard for me. So often, I can just solve a problem by asking for help—which is almost always freely and cheerfully given.

Happiness paradoxes: it can be selfless to be selfish, and you can be generous by taking.

How about you? Have you had an experience where you asked for a favor — or were asked for a favor — and the favor ended up strengthening your relationship?

* A very interesting study suggests that once you’ve developed muscle, especially during your youth, your muscles can more easily return to previous fitness levels than if you were starting from scratch.

*Looking for a good book to read over the Labor Day holiday? Please consider The Happiness Project (can’t resist mentioning: #1 New York Times bestseller).
Order your copy.
Read sample chapters.
Watch the one-minute book video.
Listen to a sample of the audiobook.