Dr. Wayne Ingle, Adviser

I do not know the secret to happiness. I am not even sure if there is a single secret to happiness. For many years now, I have been toying with the idea of a memoir. I have Moleskine notebooks all over the house, tucked away in drawers and bookshelves, filled with thoughts, scribbling, anecdotes . . . things I do not want to forget. You see, I am growing garrulous in my old age, and the temptation to embroider my stories is there, but I fight it, and one way is to keep a record of things.

A memoir. Who would read it? Heck, who would publish it? But all the writers I truly admire seemed to have written because they had to, not because they wanted money or acclaim. And so I plan. And scribble. And remember. And write. (In complete sentences, I assure you!)

I have even had the title in mind for quite a few years now: I’m Happy Most of the Time.

And I am, by and large, happy. How? I read on Huffington Post recently that a Yale study claims that when people have control over the events in their lives—both good and bad—they are happier. I do not know any amazing formulas, but I do know several secrets—and not-so-secrets—to happiness. I want to tell you about two secrets that always work for me. Anyone can do them, and they involve nothing but a little time. I cannot guarantee they will make you deliriously happy for extended periods of time, but their tiny, intense pleasures add up.

Secret Number One: Make your bed every morning.

Really? Really. I grew up with a stay-at-home mother who made my bed every day, and when I got home from school, I had a little taste of what it must have been like to stay in nice hotels or to have domestic servants. When I got old enough to do the deed to her satisfaction, I was required to make my bed every morning (except Fridays when she washed the bedclothes).

When I finally got my own apartment—and all the freedom it promised—I was faced with all kinds of new sensations: Keeping food in the cabinets and in the refrigerator. Washing my own clothes. Paying for electricity. But one thing I made sure of: I came home from the factory every day (and later, the classroom) to a bed that was a joy to turn-down when it came time to hit the sack.

Secret Number Two: Never go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink.

This one is a little harder for me than making the bed, for I am generally pretty tired at the end of the day, but I actually enjoy washing dishes: It is a task that you can accomplish within a reasonable amount of time, and you can see the results of your handiwork. What fun to let the utensils soak while you wash the glasses and less-soiled articles. After the silverware is done, you can stage what’s left, leaving the dirtiest for last. And when I got my first dishwasher . . . well, that was quite a marvel! To turn-down my made bed; slip between the cool, unwrinkled sheets; and drift off to sleep as the dishwasher chugged and sloshed and whirred softly in the background . . .


Are you unhappy? Looking for ways to improve your life? If these are two unresolved—or semi-resolved—issues in your life, perhaps you should give them some attention. Again, no guarantees, but there is no harm done, and you do not need special equipment to begin. The aesthetic improvement alone might get you moving in the right direction.