A Secret to Happiness? Long Underwear.

A humbling fact about my happiness project is that many of the ideas that have made the biggest difference in my life are so…simple. For example, consider one of my twelve personal commandments: Identify the problem.

There have been so many instances where I’ve been unhappy with a situation, but didn’t take the trouble to analyze what was bothering me—and therefore, couldn’t fix it. Identifying the problem allowed me to spot the solution.


Take this example. I’m always cold. I’m often freezing in places other people find perfectly comfortable. My children sometimes ask me not to touch their bare skin, because my hands are icy cold. I’ve been known to wear a wool hat indoors. I drink hot drinks constantly, to try to warm up.

It’s a particular problem when I’m dressed in party clothes. The room is set to be a comfortable temperature for men wearing full suits, and I’m wearing a dress.

Finally, I thought, “Identify the problem.” I’m cold. How could I be warmer? Well, I could dress more warmly. How do I do that, if I’m wearing a sleeveless dress? I could wear a bodysuit. So I went to a lingerie store and bought a bodysuit (also fulfilling my resolution to “Buy needful things”). It’s astonishing how much warmth a bodysuit provides, without adding any bulk.

I’ve taken other steps to dress more warmly. I wear long underwear under my pants, two sets of socks, and two sweaters. This isn’t rocket science, but until I “identified the problem,” it hadn’t occurred to me that I just needed to dress more warmly than other people.

Have you ever “identified a problem” that allowed you to spot a solution?

The days are long, but the years are short.