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I Can’t Get No Satisfaction: Dr. Julie Landry of Halcyon Therapy Group On Why So Many Of Us Are Feeling Unsatisfied & What We Can Do About It

An Interview With Drew Gerber

From an objective standpoint, we are living in an unprecedented era of abundance. Yet so many of us are feeling unsatisfied. Why are we seemingly so insatiable? What is going on inside of us that is making us feel unsatisfied? What is the brain chemistry that makes us feel this way? Is our brain wired for endless insatiable consumption? What can we do about it? In this interview series, we are talking to credentialed experts such as psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, brain science experts, as well as spiritual and religious leaders, and mind-body-spirit coaches, to address why so many of us are feeling unsatisfied & what we can do about it.

As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dr. Julie Landry.

Dr. Landry is a board-certified clinical psychologist, former Army officer, and the founder of Halcyon Therapy Group. She works with high-achievers to optimize their mental health by providing comprehensive and individualized care. You can find more about her on her website at

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to know how you got from “there to here.” Inspire us with your backstory!

Thank you for having me! I joined the Army while still in graduate school and served several years on active duty before transitioning to a civilian position in military medicine. One of the things that stood out to me most while working with military leaders was their reluctance to seek mental health care. This observation eventually led me to form a private practice, which specializes in working with leaders, executives, and busy professionals. In 2022 I created Halcyon Therapy Group to provide comprehensive and concierge mental health care, with an emphasis on optimizing performance.

What lessons would you share with yourself if you had the opportunity to meet your younger self?

Create your own path from the beginning. Surround yourself with clever, creative, and inspirational people. Help them create their path. Let them help you create yours. Explore and push the limits of what you can experience and do. Say yes to opportunity. Challenge yourself. Keep learning. Go all in.

None of us are able to experience success without support along the way. Is there a particular person for whom you are grateful because of the support they gave you to grow you from “there to here?” Can you share that story and why you are grateful for them?

I’ve been lucky to have so many great supportive people in my life. My Army colleagues have shaped me as a person and as a psychologist. Most recently my husband has been my biggest supporter. He’s given me the time and space to work on my professional endeavors by making sure our family is taken care of and providing emotional support when needed.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think it might help people?

In the next couple of months, I’m launching a virtual assessment service that specializes in adult autism evaluation. The majority of the current resources are intended for a pediatric population, and the diagnostic process typically takes months, which means people cannot access the services and support they need in a timely manner. We’ll focus on providing quality assessments that are accessible and convenient and then help connect people to any ongoing assistance that they need.

Ok, thank you for sharing your inspired life. Let’s now talk about feeling “unsatisfied”. In the Western world, humans typically have their shelter, food, and survival needs met. What has led to us feeling we aren’t enough and don’t have enough? What is the wiring? Or in other words, how has nature and nurture played into how humans (in an otherwise “safe and secure” environment) experience feeling less than, or a need to have more than what is needed for basic survival?

Countless social psychological experiments have shown that comparative thinking plays a role in our self-perception and social cognition as a whole. This isn’t a new idea, but it’s interesting to think about the current influence of social media within our individualistic society. We see people doing, achieving, or acquiring things we haven’t and subsequently feel unsatisfied with our own lives. It breeds a feeling of inadequacy. The internet is filled with ‘success stories’, but it belies the fact that there was significant work behind the success and numerous failures. As social animals, status is naturally important to us. We’re anxious to be recognized as special, to win the respect of others, and their love. We learn to seek fulfillment outside of ourselves and look to external validation to feel better.

I do think it’s important to acknowledge that many people in the Western world do not have their basic needs met. For many, the bare necessities cannot be secured without assistance.

How are societies different? For example, capitalistic societies trade differently than communists. Developed nations trade differently than developing nations. In your opinion, how does society shape a human’s experience and feelings of satisfaction?

Our ideal definition of happiness is influenced by our cultural environment and plays a central role in our lives and the way we see the world. For example, social psychology research indicates older Hong Kong Chinese adults are on the whole more satisfied than their European-American counterparts. My assumption is this is because, in general, as a whole, they have learned to moderate their expectations and accept their circumstances.

In our capitalist economy, materialism is systematically built into our daily lives by societal norms and persuasive advertising. But we know materialism causes a decrease in personal well-being. A recent study found that materialistic values are driven by insecurity, which is also culturally derived.

With a specific focus on brain function, how has the brain and its dominion over the body and beliefs been impacted by the societal construct?

This can be explained partially by the brain’s reward system. Habituation and comparisons induce unhappiness because there is no reward from the known ‘good’ scenario — our position at work, the home we own. In other words, we rapidly habituate to the good and derive little pleasure from it because we compare the situation to something better — someone else’s position at work or larger home. The advantage of this is we are driven to find better outcomes because we are never satisfied, and we learn faster based on new actions and scenarios. The disadvantage is we constantly devalue our achievements. So for example, if my son gets a 90% on an exam, he’s happy. But when he sees a friend got a 95% on the same exam, he is displeased even though his score hasn’t changed. This disappointment might in turn motivate him to study harder for the next exam.

Happiness and satisfaction depend on two things: changing expectations that make us quickly habituate to new reasons to be happy, and whether we compare what we have with others. Comparison and habituation both lead to a cycle of wants and desires, which adversely impacts our mental health and general sense of well-being. The more we value things outside of our control, the less control we have and the less we value ourselves.

Do you think the way our society markets and advertises goods and services, has affected people’s feelings of satisfaction? Can you explain what you mean?

Absolutely. We have been conditioned to believe that happiness is found through consumption and that success is determined by what we’re able to acquire. Western society perpetuates this false sense of satisfaction by rewarding us for our high aspirations and desires. Marketing can also impact our self-concept and self-esteem. Advertisements for beauty products can be particularly damaging and seem to prey on the insecurities they help create.

How is the wiring of the brain, body, and beliefs shaped by marketing, language, and how humans trade?

Thinking specifically about how marketing shapes us brings us back to the brain’s reward system. The involved sections of the brain are responsible for the cognitive process and attention that motivates our behavior towards or away from an object, event, or outcome as well as the emotions involving contentment. Despite being such a small section, the limbic system plays a large role in our emotions, thoughts, and actions. When we see a product ad that appeals to us, the reward circuit lights up and we’re more inclined to buy the item. Marketing, language, and trade are all vital parts of culture, and culture has an effect on the way a person thinks, which in turn initiates behaviors.

I work in marketing so I’m very cognizant of this question. In your opinion, how do you think marketing professionals can be more responsible for how their advertising shapes humans’ health and experience of happiness overall?

I think the marketing that is most problematic is the more manipulative types of advertisements. For example false health claims or the use of social media to sell an unrealistic or unattainably luxurious lifestyle. It can be difficult to recognize these ads for what they are. Imposing restrictions that curtail these false or misleading ads would ensure advertising is providing a strong positive information source.

For you personally, if you have all your basic needs met, do you feel you have enough in life?

Objectively I know that I have enough in life. All of my needs are met as well as most of my desires, but I can still fall into the trap of wanting to achieve more and comparing myself to others.

Okay, fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview: Can you share with our readers your “5 things we can each do to address the feeling of not having enough.”

  1. Build and maintain relationships.

Most of us crave connection and find relationships are a crucial component of fulfillment. The relationships we build and the lives we impact will be our legacy.

2. Help others.

Research indicates that those who consistently help other people experience less depression, greater calm, fewer pains and better health overall. Even a small act of kindness can boost feelings of confidence, being in control, happiness and optimism.

3. Gratitude.

Practicing gratitude increases feelings of contentment because it changes our focus to what is good in life rather than what we feel is lacking. You can practice this daily using a gratitude diary or share your gratitude with friends and family to strengthen connection.

4. Meditation.

Meditation helps to fight our desire for more by forcing us to slow down and appreciate the present. The idea of meditation can be intimidating, but there are lots of great resources including phone apps that are helpful.

5. Do things you actually enjoy and less of the things you don’t.

This may sound obvious but most of us spend a great deal of time ‘adulting’ and have trouble even identifying what we enjoy or do for fun. Build more recreational activities into your daily routine and quit whatever you can that you don’t enjoy.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have inspired you to live with more joy in life?

The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos is a great listen. I also often recommend pretty much anything by Brenee Brown.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

This is such a tough question because there are so many areas for improvement. Ensuring people have their basic needs met would be a great movement and something I believe we all need to work on. We’re in this together.

I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about cultural competency in healthcare. This isn’t a liberal idea about making people feel special but instead it’s about practicing whole-person care. Our current system of healthcare (as well as most medical research) revolves around the cisgender white male; this system is broken. We need to improve healthcare for all.

What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?

You can visit my websites at and

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.

About The Interviewer: For 30 years, Drew Gerber has been inspiring those who want to change the world. Drew is the CEO of Wasabi Publicity, Inc., a full-service PR agency lauded by PR Week and Good Morning America. Wasabi Publicity, Inc. is a global marketing company that supports industry leaders, change agents, unconventional thinkers, companies and organizations that strive to make a difference. Whether it’s branding, traditional PR or social media marketing, every campaign is instilled with passion, creativity and brilliance to powerfully tell their clients’ story and amplify their intentions in the world. Schedule a free consultation at



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Drew Gerber, CEO of Wasabi Publicity

For 30 years, Drew Gerber has been inspiring those who want to change the world