Beating the If/Then Trap
You can learn a lot about a person’s personal pursuit of happiness by what they post on their refrigerator.
Take, for example, a woman who visited my church many years ago. She and her husband were new to Austin and had just had their first child. I signed up to bring a meal to their home, and when I arrived to drop it off, the mom was nursing the baby. I offered to put the meal away in the refrigerator, and she gladly accepted the extra help. When I went to open her refrigerator, I couldn’t help but notice that she had tacked a couple of interesting pictures to the door (a pre-Pinterest pinboard!).
One picture featured a very slim model in a swimsuit, perfectly toned without a hint of cellulite (or body fat, for that matter)—a picture obviously pulled from a fashion magazine. The model’s body shape matches about .001 percent of the female population, thanks to a steady diet of lettuce leaves and rice cakes. The other picture tacked to her refrigerator door featured an advertisement promoting a new subdivision being built in Austin. Curious, I yelled into the living room, “Hey, what’s up with the pictures on your refrigerator? Are you guys about to move?” She replied, “I wish! I put those on my fridge as motivation—you know, to remind me of my goals and where I’m headed in life. I won’t be happy until I drop this extra weight and move out of this rental neighborhood.” She held a brand-new baby in her arms and sat in a nice living room with a roof overhead, but she could only think about a better body and bigger house.
Unfortunately, she was caught up in the if-then trap. Her happiness was held hostage by an uncertain outcome or set of conditions.