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Escaping That Sneaky "If...Then" Trap: A Simple Tip for Less Stress, More Joy Every Day.

Updated: May 27

"Joy is that kind of happiness that does not depend on what happens."

David Steindl – Rast


“If I get that new job or promotion…..”

“If I lose 10 pounds…. 

“If my son/daughter gets into that school… sports team…honor society…

“If I could only meet that man or woman of my dreams…

“If I get 10,000 followers….

“If I get that house... boat…car….

“When I have a baby…the teenagers don’t argue….the kids are grown up and on their own…

“If I had time to take vacation…

“When I retire…

“If my scans come back clear….

“If I run that marathon…climb that mountain….get the award…



THEN I’ll be happy!”

We spend a lot of time thinking “If this happens…Then I’ll be happy.

But what if you didn’t have to wait?

“If…then…” thinking siphons off our happiness in many ways:

  1. It hinges any probability of our happiness on some distant outcome, person, or situation - that we may have little or no control over.

  2. It catapults any chance of our happiness into the future.

  3. It steals our joy and chips away at our confidence in the present.

When you feel yourself getting caught up in that happiness-crushing

“If…Then” loop:

Shift your “If… Then,”

to “How…Now?”

Ask yourself, “How can I feel happier right Now?

Instead of letting our happiness be dictated by situations, people, and things we can’t control, it helps to focus on the things we can control NOW, at any moment.

I believe that we human beings feel less stress and more joy when we experience a greater sense of:

  1. Love and connection

  2. Calm and peacefulness

  3. Contribution and making a difference

  4. Moving forward, making progress towards our goals

Does this ring true for you?

Note that there is no mention of a sports car, beach house, or a full scholarship. Because, these things may not be attainable today or tomorrow.

Yet, at any moment, on any day, right NOW- we can decide and take action to be more loving, calm, contributing, or moving forward.

For example,


HOW can you feel more love and connection NOW?

Can you reach out to a loved one to let them know you're thinking about them?

Take your dog for a walk through the park?

Thank someone who has lifted you up?

HOW can you experience a greater sense of calm NOW?

If you’re feeling scattered, can you stop, take three deep breaths and focus on what you are grateful for?

Can you say “No, Thank You” to the thing that’s adding extra stress, and “Yes, Please” to a little alone time to reflect and hit the reset button?

Can you give yourself a freakin' break and remember that you are an amazing human being- both a masterpiece and a work in progress?

HOW can you give, help, contribute NOW?

Can you give someone the gift of your full attention, close the laptop, and look into their eyes when you talk with them? And truly listen?

Contribute your time, energy, talent, to your favorite cause?

Do something kind-hearted for another?

HOW can you make progress NOW?

Can you take action and err on the side of progress over perfection?

Can you take just one, small step instead of trying to do it all at once?

What if, instead of focusing on all the obstacles you need to overcome, you took a few moments to celebrate how far you’ve already come?

Switching our “If…Then’s” to “How …Now's?” can help us feel happier at any moment.

Why wait to feel happier?

What’s just one, small thing you can do or think to feel less stress, more joy right NOW?

With So Much Love,


“People wait all week for Friday, all year for summer, and all life for happiness.”

-Abhysheq Shukla

*"How Now Brown Cow!"

If you read "How ... Now" and found yourself smiling and thinking, "How Now Brown Cow!" - you're dating yourself (just a little!) but you also have a great little rhyme to remind yourself what to focus on when you get caught up in the "If...Then loop!

Fun Fact: "Brown Cow" is a 1700's description for a barrel of beer. The phrase, "How Now Brown Cow," probably originated as a way to call for another round of drinks, and is still used to teach elocution today! And now you know...

Want A Little Bit More Happy in your life, just once or twice a month? click here.

Decide Happy is now available in paperback, e-Book, and Audio, wherever books are sold, including Amazon.

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