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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Happiness, Sandwiches and George Carlin

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Jul 19th 2012

 

happyGeorge Carlin once said that “Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.” It’s not news that we’re a consumer-based culture, but what might be news as we turn inward to listen is how continuing to crave for more and more and more only trains a mind that wants to consume more and more and more. In other words, it trains the mindset that “it’s never enough.” Where does this leave us? 

One thing that many of us forget along life’s travels is that what we practice and repeat in life is basically what we get. Neuroscience is beginning to show us that with the advent of neuroplasticity, the idea that we can change our brain architecture for better or worse depending on how and what we pay attention to. 

Buying “things” isn’t inherently a bad thing, nor is having a great deal of money. However, if the mind is constantly reaching toward something in the future to make us happy, then we’re constantly lacking and chronically unhappy. 

There’s nothing mystical about this, it’s a simple formula. So how come we get so trapped in it? 

It’s mainly because while our brain is one of our greatest assets, it’s also one of our greatest hindrances. 

Most of the day our brain is reacting the outside and inside stimuli to make snap judgments, interpretations and anticipations of what to do next. When decisions are made on auto-pilot, we don’t have a conscious choice in the matter. 

The brain is inclined to move us toward pleasure and keep us away from pain. So it’s no wonder that many of its subconscious snap judgments would be involved in making decisions that it judges will help us get out of our boredom, anxiety, depression, cravings and move us toward relief, pleasure, or maybe as the advertisements promise, a “blissful experience.” 

Our work is simply prime our minds toward what we do have a little more often. Have more moments of gratitude for life just as it is. 

We may find that fulfillment is closer than we think.

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

 

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

    Reader Comments
    Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

    Happiness, according to Carlin - Scott - Jun 9th 2013

    I loved to listen to George Carlin.  I especially remember his act where he talked about an incurable disease that doctors couldn't figure out due to the fact it exhibited no symptoms. ;-)  But seriously, I wonder if Carlin ever found happiness-- in anyone or anything.  He espoused "doing what you love".  What if one loves the accumulation of possessions?  Is  "doing what you love" really the key to happiness?  King Solomon is quoted, "I said to myself, "Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself."" --Ecclesiastes 2:1  Then in verse 11, he says: "Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity(futility) and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun."  Then, in verses 24-25: "There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good.  This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?" 

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