Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling, Start Living

Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling, Start Living

3.7 17
by Russ Harris

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Are you, like milllions of Americans, caught in the happiness trap? Russ Harris explains that the way most of us go about trying to find happiness ends up making us miserable, driving the epidemics of stress, anxiety, and depression. This empowering book presents  the insights and techniques of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) a revolutionary new


Are you, like milllions of Americans, caught in the happiness trap? Russ Harris explains that the way most of us go about trying to find happiness ends up making us miserable, driving the epidemics of stress, anxiety, and depression. This empowering book presents  the insights and techniques of ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) a revolutionary new psychotherapy based on cutting-edge research in behavioral psychology. By clarifying your values and developing mindfulness (a technique for living fully in the present moment), ACT helps you escape the happiness trap and find true satisfaction in life.

    The techniques presented in The Happiness Trap will help readers to:

   • Reduce stress and worry
   • Handle painful feelings and thoughts more effectively
   • Break self-defeating habits
   • Overcome insecurity and self-doubt
   • Create a rich, full, and meaningful life

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Carefully and creatively presents techniques that anyone can use to undermine struggle, avoidance, and loss of the moment. Harris systematically explores how we get into the 'happiness trap' and then shines a powerful beacon showing us another way forward."—Steven Hayes, PhD, author of Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life

"Eminently practical and readable. This book reveals that when calibrating one's life according to acceptance and valued action, happiness is a pleasant sideshow in the larger carnival of an engaged and purposeful existence."—Zindel Segal, PhD, author of The Mindful Way through Depression

"An exciting alternative to the usual approach of so many self-help books. Harris explains how we can work with ourselves as we are, rather than aggressively trying to alter ourselves. I'm impressed by the simple and effective methods of ACT."—David Richo, PhD, author of The Five Things We Cannot Change

Publishers Weekly

Physician Harris challenges some basic assumptions about the all-American tradition of the pursuit of happiness, drawing heavily on the "acceptance and commitment therapy" (ACT) work of University of Nevada professor Steven Hayes, which argues that happiness is not a normal state of being; pain is inevitable and what matters is how it is dealt with. The ACT prescription is to be "mindful" of negative thoughts and emotions, reconnect with core values, act in accordance with values and with the "psychological flexibility" to adapt to any situation. ACT techniques include diffusion-decreasing the impact of self-defeating thoughts (without making them go away), turning off the "struggle switch," practicing "expansion" to make room for self-observation and connecting with the present moment. While these concepts might sound like typical self-help fare, Harris makes key distinctions: ACT is not a form of meditation or a path to enlightenment-to reap the benefits, action is imperative. More of an ACT primer than anything else, there's enough interesting content here to keep the reader, um, happy. (June)

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Product Details

Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.90(w) x 5.86(h) x 0.66(d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Russ Harris is a physician, therapist, and speaker specializing in stress management. He travels nationally and internationally to train individuals and health professionals in the techniques of ACT. Born and educated in England, he now lives in Australia. For more information, visit actmindfully.com.au.

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Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling, Start Living 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author elaborates on Acceptance Committment Therapy (ACT) and how it can be used to improve one's life. I have used this in conjunction with a therapist. As a "stand alone" self help book, it probably can help. I don't have experience with that. In conjunction with therapy, I recommend the book and the therapeutic method as it's helped me. That said, not everyone will find this set of "wrenches" helpful for managing life. Accepting what we cannot change doesn't mean we agree with what we cannot change. That's not easy to wrap one's head around. Also, I've learned "defusion" to help myself with unhelpful thoughts that my mind has appear. The human mind is an interesting, complicated place. It does take effort to work through the methods and learn how to use them in the book. Just reading it and hoping for this to improve one's life won't work. Just like any other "self care" tome, this takes work. I'm finding that the effort I put in to this method has helped me. Not all the things in the book help me. Mostly, self care is about finding what works for one's own self. Overal, I'm pleased with the book. And I'm glad I've got a therapist who suggested it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
But what does being happy really mean? Ask different people and you are guaranteed to get a mixture of responses. Even if you are fortunate enough to know what happiness means to you personally, is it possible to always be happy? If you go to the self-help or personal development section of any bookstore or library, you'll find plenty of books that promise to change your life for the better. And whether or not one of those books has been written to help you to lose weight, or to become wealthier, or to find a new career, or whatever, the underlying message is that, by reading that particular book, you will be happier than ever before. But is it really as simple as that? For most people, it's not. That's because life is complex, and lots of challenges are placed in front of all of us that prevent us from always being happy. So what's the solution? If you are currently disillusioned with life in general, or maybe some aspect of it, I would urge you to read a new book titled 'The Happiness Trap'. In the briefest of descriptions, the 'Happiness Trap' involves frantic attempts to run away from negative emotions and desperately strive for positive ones ¿ resulting, of course, in a vicious cycle in which we are trapped with little or no chance of ever being successful long term. This book is refreshingly unlike any other self help book that I have ever read, and I believe that one of its major strengths lies in the fact that it challenges its readers to redefine what it means to be truly happy. The book then presents a number of practical strategies that can be used to live a fulfilling life, despite the ups and downs that all of us encounter sooner or later. Another great strength of 'The Happiness Trap' is that it is both easy and enjoyable to read. And because the content of the book has been organized into short, focused chapters, you can pick up the book and simply read one, two or more chapters at a time and never feel overwhelmed. The book has been written by Dr Russ Harris, a former GP, who now works as a therapist and coach in the field of 'Acceptance and Commitment Therapy' (ACT). ACT, an innovative and creative mindfulness-based behavioural therapy, is the foundation on which 'The Happiness Trap' book solidly sits. Harris explains that 'Acceptance and Commitment Therapy' is 'based upon six core principles which work together to help you achieve two main goals: a) to effectively handle painful thoughts and feelings, and b) to create a rich, full and meaningful life'. Summing up ¿ read 'The Happiness Trap' book to learn how to create a life for yourself that is indeed worth living.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly recommed this book. I have panic attack with agoraphobia and this is by far the best book I have ever bought. this book really helps you understand yourself better and allows you to learn how to deal with difficult life situations through acceptance, rather than avoidance, (which is what most "self help" books do these days). If you are looking for a way to improve yourself and alternative ways to deal with difficult life situations, no matter what they meay be, this is definately the way to go. One thing I have to say though is that you MUST do the exercises that are recommended. The author gives you step by step instructions on how to handle a situation through acceptance, and sometimes asks you to write down answers to questions on a paper, these exercises are crucial. If your not willing to do the work, then it will still help, but MUCH less then if you actually did it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A beautifully written, clear, and concise ACT book. 'The Happiness Trap' is not only useful as a self-help book, but it is also a fantastic book for clinicians who want an easy to read, complete summary of ACT. Russ manages to captivate his audience so that you really must keep reading until the end!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book that even people who dont like self help books can enjoy (as well as those who do). The Happiness Trap is based on the latest scientific research. It can be used by anyone to help improve their life - whether they are facing everyday problems, or more complex issues such as anxiety and depression. It offers a sensible and practical approach to dealing with the stressors of modern life. In summary this is an easy to read book, that can be easily applied by anyone who is interested in improving their life. I highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very insightful, this is a book that you will want to read and keep referencing it. I am very happy that I purchased this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book. Very clear and extremely helpful approach to thought work. ACT is a great tool to improve how we live our lives.
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bella1080 More than 1 year ago
Very interesting concept, and wonderful if you can make it work for you. However, it would take a long time to retrain your mind to think in this way and learn to turn off the negative thoughts. Several books have tried to accomplish this, so it is not new concept. It does , however, give some new insights and new ways to address this possibility to turn negative into positive. Overall, it is worth reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago