Early on in life, we learn the power of if, then statements in a very simple and and innocent way. For example, in math class we use if, then to learn logic. If a = b and b=c, then a=c. Harmless, right?
However, it doesn’t end there. It goes on and on. We play it in every area of our life: relationships, career, health, and money.
If I get Toms, then I’ll fit in.
If I get a summer job, then I can get a car.
If I lose weight, then I’ll be happy.
If I make my mom happy, then I’ll be happy.
Society and the media influence our mind to think with a set of conditions that help us make sense and draw logical conclusions, which is helpful sometimes. But somewhere along the line, the logic is substituted for our own regulations and that don’t fit and, therefore, result in irrational conclusions, which is NOT helpful. It’s important to note that happiness doesn’t require any if, then conditions. According to the Dalai Lama, happiness is a choice.
Often we create a situation in our mind, such as being happy, and make it dependent on another event. But in reality, being happy is not dependent on any set of conditions other than our own mindset and perspective right now. Things such as starting a new relationship, getting a job, getting a spot in the jazz band, and losing weight do not necessarily equal happiness. Happiness is available, right here, right now, in this moment, whether you are going through a major life transition or in the greatest relationship of your life. It doesn’t depend on anyone but you. By definition, if, then statements take you out of the present moment and steer your focus to the future.
I teach students from all walks of life, and I’m always fascinated to learn how one student believes she will be happy when she finally gets a spot in the jazz band while another believes she will be happy only when she gets new, trendy shoes (you can substitute this for anything: a relationship, money, a good relationship with your parents…) The recurring theme is that these ideas are all based on external if, then statements and overlook the fact that we control our state of being and reactions.
You can be in a class that frustrates you or a person that you despise and still be in a good place in your life. It doesn’t depend on external events. It depends on how you view the events in your life. When I was in college, a friend of mine had her wallet stolen and surprisingly stayed calm and upbeat through the whole ordeal! Life is how we deal with where we are right now.
So instead of using an if, then statement as your default, create powerful statements, such as:
If I get Toms, then I’ll fit in. I am myself and fit in right now!
If I get a summer job, then I can get a car. I am creative about my transportation and get to where I want to be on time!
If I lose weight, then I’ll be happy. I feed good about myself right now!
If I make my mom happy, then I’ll be happy. I love my life and am happy right now!
Take the challenge: Challenge yourself to get rid of the IF, THEN statements and see how your life makes a dramatic shift for the better.
The bottom line is… By subscribing to if, then statements, you are embracing the idea that the future is the only place that holds happiness. The real game is accepting where you are staying in the “now” of your life. The next time you are tempted to set up conditions in your life and play the if, then game, simply challenge yourself to see if your logic is the truth. (Is it really true that you can only be happy when you get those overly desired pair of shoes?) Often the conclusion does not follow the set of conditions.
Believe in yourself!