Is the need to be independent hurting our happiness?

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I have been a pretty independent person since a young age, and sometimes it makes it hard for me to rely on others. I find it difficult to delegate tasks to others because I feel like I should just do it myself.

We can discuss the reasons behind this behavior another time but the one question that I wanted to answer here is: does being more independent make me lonelier and less happy?

I think the interview between Dr. Jordan B. Peterson and Dr. John Delony on Dr. Peterson's podcast provides some good insight into this thought.

During the interview, Dr. Delony references times in history when borrowing sugar from a neighbor was a norm, and how we no longer ask for help due to the availability of services that cater to our needs. Services like Amazon or Uber mean we no longer need to borrow sugar from our neighbors or ask a friend for a ride to the airport.

He further explains that not only do we no longer ask for help, but we also encourage independence as a virtue. I would even go so far to say that asking for help in our current society is considered a sign of weakness.

At times, I can't help but feel this sense of "weakness" too because I grew up with fiercely independent and old-school parents. Seeing how independent they are makes me want to be as independent as possible, perhaps even too independent at times. However, as Dr. Peterson points out in the interview, we cannot live alone, and living in isolation means we lack social feedback to guide our behavior to fit in society.

I see this as similar to prehistoric times when humans needed to band together to survive. For instance, a single human could not take down a lion, and you needed to rely on others for help.

I find it quite ironic that while we all want to feel needed by others, our society shuns seeking help and values independence. This further reinforces the idea that we see ourselves as burdens and view those who seek help as entitled.

As someone who was heavily influenced by my fiercely independent parents, I often feel the urge to do everything myself and not rely on others. Sometimes, I feel guilty when I ask others for help, and this mindset can be detrimental. I know that I need to change this way of thinking

I am actually implementing systems and guard rails to help me rely more on others. Specifically, I now ask myself three questions before taking on anything new:

  • Who knows this better than I do and from whom can I seek advice?
  • Is there anyone already doing this whom I should connect with before starting?
  • Who should I inform that I am starting this? This helps me manage expectations and overcome the feeling of being a burden on others.

These questions are to encourage myself to collaborate with others instead of always taking on things alone and head on.

I hope this issue has made you reflect more on the concept of independence and the feeling of burdening others.

Have a great weekend.

I'll see you in the next one.



Last week's post - Fear and courage

I got caught up with work and didn't manage to publish last week's post in time for last week's issue. I wrote an article about how Subnautica as a video game taught me about fear and courage.

How an Underwater Adventure Game Transformed My Understanding of Fear →

This week's post - Learning in public

I take a deeper dive into the benefits of learning in public and how to start.

The benefits of public learning and how to start →