How 7 Seconds a Day is Changing Our Family

Unless someone tells me differently, we’re on the verge of coming out the most difficult seven months of our lives—and our marriage. Due to a number of circumstances out of our control including a newborn baby who screamed more than she slept, and my dad having more heart pump surgeries than cats have lives, we were barely functioning.

Fortunately, our daughter turned a huge corner, thanks to the hard work and determination of my wife, Christi. My dad is home recovering slowly, but surely. For this miracle and all of your prayers, we are incredibly grateful.

But as the fog began to clear and circumstances got better, Christi and I found ourselves stuck in the same moods, mostly downcast, rarely laughing. It’s as if we were afraid to be happy or enjoy life again because if we did, BAM! “Right back to the misery you go.”

Waiting for bad things to happen to us will never prepare us for when they do. That’s not living; it’s dying.

We were dying.

Before I get to our inspiring story, it’s important to know that Christi and I tend to take life more seriously than we should. We’re both Type A, driven, task-oriented individuals whose life movie might reflect more of a contemplative adventure than a comedic storyline. If you’re a fan of the TV show Parenthood, I’m Adam, not Crosby.  

I knew we needed to laugh more and to enjoy life again, especially with one another.

So we adopted a cow.

It all began a few weeks ago when Christi and I went on a date night. After dinner we went to a home goods store on the Branson Landing to look around. As we made our way to the back of the store, we simultaneously burst into laughter. I’m talking good ole’ down-to-the-soul belly laughing.

Sitting there in all of her glory was the most colorful, in-your-face cow we ever encountered. We laughed like a couple of uncontrollable giddy toddlers with no cares in the world.

The next day as I was driving home from work I got off the exit to that store with an overwhelming sense that I needed to buy that picture and surprise Christi with it. So I did.

Since then, this is what happened:


That’s right, she now rests on the mantel above our fireplace. Our adopted cow is the first thing we see when we walk out of our bedroom in the morning. She also greets all of our guests as they come in the front door.

Why is she sitting there? Because we’re choosing to take the first seven seconds of our day, as soon as we wake up, and laugh. That’s it, just laugh.

Try it. It changes the trajectory of your morning—what you think about, how you feel, the way you think about your day, and especially how you talk to one another pre-coffee.

I got the idea from Andy Andrews’ book Mastering the Seven Decisions to Personal Success. Everyone should have this book. In it, he writes that happiness is a choice.

Since the cow entered our lives, our outlook has changed. We’re living again. Not focused on what could go wrong, but enjoying what’s going right.

If you’re going through a difficult time or just want to get more enjoyment out of your everyday routine, I encourage you to try some of the ways we’re laughing more often.

1.   Laugh for the first seven seconds of your day, as soon as you wake up.

2.   As you go throughout your day, start asking the question many comedians ask to get their content, “What’s stupid about this?” Here’s a picture I took of a recent newspaper headline. Poor moose.

3.  Sign up for my friend Ken Davis’ blog called Lighten Up and Live. Every Monday he sends out a 2-3 minute family friendly funny clip (say that three times) called Lighten Up Monday. It’s a great way to begin the week on a lighter note.

4. Listen to more music, not because you're happy, but because it makes you happy.

5.   Smile more often throughout the day, especially when you talk. Smiling literally changes your physiological response to situations.

Oh yeah, one more thing: the cow needs a name, and we want you to help choose it.

In fact, we’re going to give away a copy of our video / workbook curriculum The Screen-Balanced Family to the person who can come up with the best name by Friday, April 24th at 4pm EST.

Just post your comment below or by clicking here.

What other ways do you and your family lighten up? Feel free to comment and spread the laughter.

Joshua Straub, Ph.D. is an advocate for families and parenting in the 21st century. As a marriage and parenting coach, he loves coming alongside families to provide encouragement, support and practical counsel. He is the author of the upcoming release Safe House: How Emotional Safety is the Key to Raising Kids Who Live, Love, and Lead Well (October 2015, Waterbrook Multnomah), and along with his wife Christi, is coauthor and producer of the video series and workbook, The Screen-Balanced Family: Six Secrets to a More Connected Family in the 21st Century. He wakes up each day striving to love others better, starting with his wife Christi and their two children, Landon and Kennedy.

For more encouragement and ideas on marriage and parenting in the 21st century you can join Josh and a growing tribe of awesome families at and follow him on Twitter @joshuastraub or Facebook.