We are a culture driven by the motto “more is better.” If we turn on the television or glance over at the magazines at the checkout line in any grocery store, we see the sensational “bling” and the “more” we are looking for.

Our minds automatically say, “If I just had a bigger house, a partner, more money, a snow cone, etc., then I’d be happy.”

Waltor Landor accurately said, “As soon as we wish to be happier, we are no longer happy.”

But from time to time we’ve heard this notion before, so why do we keep falling into this unhappiness trap, what’s wrong with us? 

The fact is it’s not our fault that we keep falling into it. From the time we’re born until this moment right now our brain is continually taking information in as a means to make decisions in the present moment and anticipate the future. It’s wired to make us secure and comfortable.

As long as we can see and hear it’s impossible to ignore the commercials and bill boards that tell us we’ll gain more social acceptance and be happier if we have their products. The brain references it’s hierarchy of needs and says, “Yes, social belonging is fundamental so I guess I do need that.”

The brain makes thousands of calculations like this each day and drives our snap judgments about what to pay attention to and what actions to take.

Companies on the internet know this that’s why there is an entire industry that plays on our subconscious strategies to get us to feel compelled to feel like we need to buy certain things.

But the fact is, thousands of years of experience and all the world’s wisdom traditions keep telling us that more isn’t better. Contentment lies in being okay with what you have.

This isn’t an anti-capitalism blog, it’s an emotional freedom blog. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong to strive to make a lot of money and we don’t need to feel guilty for buying new things, it’s just that we don’t need to be enslaved by the current that is pushing us to do it at the expense of our happiness.  

Escaping this unhappiness trap will be a lifelong dance, so forgive yourself when you notice you’ve fallen in and in that moment of awareness ask yourself, “What am I grateful for,” shifting the focus to being content with what you have. Take this awareness into the days that follow.

Remember Waltor Landor’s words, “As soon as we wish to be happier, we are no longer happy.”

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Man wearing bling image available from Shutterstock.



View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 10 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.

    Last reviewed: 7 Aug 2013

APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2013). Escape the Unhappiness Trap. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 30, 2015, from


Mindfulness & Psychotherapy

Subscribe to this Blog:

Or Get a Single, Daily Email (enter email address):

via FeedBurner



Books and CDs by Dr. Elisha Goldstein:
Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind

The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change The Rest of Your Life
A Mindfulness-Based
Stress Reduction Workbook

Subscribe to this Blog:

Or Get a Single, Daily Email (enter email address):

via FeedBurner

Recent Comments
  • Sara Jacobovici: Thank you so much Elisha for a beautifully written article. As an “integrator” I...
  • Kim Fredrickson, MFT: Thanks so much for all you have contributed in the area of self-compassion. I think that the...
  • jony: I m 26 years old girl. My childhood was very messy.tho i have my parents but i never lived with them. The...
  • Primus Hospital: I have enjoyed reading your blog. And am looking forward for more such blogs, Keep writing these...
  • John David Werner: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within...
Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code

Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!