The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT
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The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living: A Guide to ACT

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  877 ratings  ·  109 reviews
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...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 3rd 2008 by Trumpeter (first published January 1st 2007)
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I want to hate this book. It's so patronising and at times seriously flawed, logic-wise. It explains things with lots of exclamation marks! And drawn-out metaphors! And basically it's just the author going on, without drawing on any examples from the real world!

Despite all this, I'm persisting because, in amongst all the guff, there are some strategies in here that bloody well work. And they work fast. This pains me because I, like the people Harris loves to patronise in the book, am one of thos...more
It’s worth it in the end. - That is my first thought that describes this book. When I began this book I did not enjoy it. Honestly, it annoyed me.

By the time I finished it I realized ways I could make substantial improvements in my life.

First: The annoying part.

The author (Dr. Harris) seems to assume that all his readers have the same thought processes, make the same mistakes, and can be fixed the same way.

He begins by telling us we likely believe four myths.

Myth 1: Happiness Is the Natural S...more
It must reveal something if I feel cagy about advertising that I've read a book subtitled "How to Stop Struggling and Start Living." Who doesn't imagine people are paying way more attention to your insecurities than they really are? "Gracious, I didn't know Josh was struggling! The poor dear. Let's make him some soup."

Well, okay, I'm not actually struggling. Life's mostly all peach these days, but I'm (almost) always interested in self-improvement. We get one go on this globe and studying ways o...more
Philip Glennie
I'm a little at a loss about this one. But I'd like to start by saying that this book has made a significant impact on my motivation and overall quality of life. It's been months since I read it, but its message is still paying dividends. I've always been skeptical of the self-help genre, but this book came at the recommendation of a trusted friend, and I can honestly say that it's one of the most important things I've ever read. My approach to my own mind has always come from a psychoanalytic p...more
Daniel G.
May 04, 2011 Daniel G. rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People struggling with negative emotions
Recommended to Daniel by: Adrian Booth
When I got into self-help books, I had two problems I wanted to solve: how to become likable and how to solve an addiction I'd had since I was 13-years-old. The books were able to help with the first, but nothing I tried worked with the addiction. That was until I started seeing a psychologist trained in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

After our first session, I got instant results. Over the weekend that followed I had many changes to indulge my addiction and I had the desire, but I was...more
If you are willing to read just one self-help book - this is the one. Especially if you prefer advice on how to find out what you like and why you are better off behaving in a certain way, to 'just so' statements about beliefs you must adopt and the way you should think-feel-behave to achieve a specific goal / way of life some guru says is best.

The advice is based on a third wave CBT approach (more behavioral than cognitive) called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). If you are looking for...more
Hayley Waterhouse
I don't really know how to summarise this book. When I first started reading it I thought I would read the whole thing through, just to see what it is like, without doing the exercises. If I thought it had some merit I would read it a second time doing all the exercises and taking my time with it. As it happens some of the exercises really got stuck in my head and I found myself doing them anyway! This book felt like it was written just for me. I think I have so much to learn from it and that it...more
Ryan Norbauer
I read this because it's based on the research I was involved in at university. Turns out to be an amazingly science-oriented form of practical existentialism. Much more thoughtful than its pop self-help cover and title would suggest.
"ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) is not a religious, mystical, or spiritual path, although it may have some parallels. ACT is a scientifically based program for creating a meaningful life through accepting our internal experience, staying present, and acting on our values."

The 6 core principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy are Defusion, Expansion, Connection, The Observing Self, Values and Commited Action. It teaches that purely trying to replace negative thoughts with positive...more
(Dr) Harris uses a great story of 2 kids in the car with mum on their way to the zoo. Both have been looking forward to the visit for weeks. Johnny is looking out the window playing "I spy" with mum, looking at the cars passing by, waving at the trains and the truck drivers. Counting cows and sheep along the road side. Billy is slumped in the back, anxious and irritated "when are we going to get there" he keeps asking. A few kilometers from the zoo the car breaks down and has to be towed back to...more
Robin Gillmore
I have read a lot of self-help books over the years, but this one is different and has made a significant difference to my quality of life. Acceptance Commitment Therapy is very different to traditional approaches to anxiety and depression because it teaches tools of acceptance rather than control, using three principal mechanisms:

1. Diffusion - decoupling ourselves from our thoughts

2. Expansion - accepting and making room for uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, urges and sensations

3. Connection -...more
When my supervisor recommended this book to me, I was sceptical. As a rule, I tend to be sceptical of self-help books in general. I expected a vague, watered-down version of psychology that would leave my eyes rolling. But heck, I really liked it. This book is very practical and accurate in the way it describes how (at least in the Western world) rationality is the ideal and emotions are downplayed, and how this mindset can create problems for us. I’m concerned about the description of ACT as “a...more
Nugroho Angkasa
Mengubah Negativitas Jadi Kreativitas

Dimuat di Jawapos, Minggu/25 Desember 2011

Judul : The Happiness Trap

Penulis : Dr. Russ Harris, M.D

Alih Bahasa : C. Krismariana W

Penerbit : Kanisius

Cetakan : I, 2011

Tebal : 320 halaman

ISBN : 978-979-21-2412-5

Harga : Rp 50.000

Buku ini menegaskan bahwa negativitas hendaknya dirangkul, diberi ruang, dan jangan malah disangkal.

Organisasi Kesehatan Dunia (WHO) mengungkap fakta mengejutkan. Satu dari 2 orang dewasa sempat serius berpikir untuk bunuh diri. Para respo...more
Triecia Gibney
If I am using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to treat a client this is one of the books I will usually recommend (the other is Things Might go Terribly Horribly Wrong by Kelly Wilson). I find this book most useful for treating anxiety when a client is keen for a bag of techniques to help them cope. Paradoxically what is often most helpful about this book is the realisation by clients that giving up the search for a tool that will rid them of their anxiety is what ultimately frees them to get...more
I found this book extremely helpful--I had previously read about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy on the website Apparently it is a successful and empirically proven therapy, so I was very much intrigued. I ended up going pretty slowly through the book, which allowed me to think about the principles it contains on a daily basis for a couple of weeks.

From what I understand, ACT takes a lot from Buddhist philosophy, and I can totally dig it. Some of the important things ACT t...more
One of the best self-help books I've read for anxiety and depression. It was a refreshing change from CBT approaches that encourage you to engage with your negative thoughts by arguing around them with logic - while I think that approach can be useful, it is also very exhausting, and it never actually cured my problem in the long term. This approach gives you tools to distance yourself a bit from unhelpful thoughts, and to sit with and learn to accept uncomfortable feelings, while still taking a...more
Rachel Smalter Hall
Pretty much the only things I don't like about this book are the title & cover art :-) This book came along at just the right time for me, really breaking down some of the concepts I've been learning about re: defusing anxious thoughts and making room for difficult emotions.

I identified with the concept that our minds have negative thoughts running through them all day because they're trying to help us be vigilant and survive all the scary wilderness predators. One of the most useful ideas o...more
Aug 28, 2013 Bill rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: adults
Harris engagingly lays out a no-B.S. approach to processing the thoughts, feelings, and images that are always popping into our heads. This approach wins big for noting right up front the futility of efforts to control these thoughts and feelings.
ACT instead advocates "acceptance" (i.e., acknowledgement) of one's inner experiences, which can help free one to take a step or two back from those that are unhelpful, thus diminishing their potency. One may then with greater mindfulness connect with w...more
Took a while to get into, (those exercises to do and all) but think I'll actually purchase this one and refer back to it. Common sense, applicable quotes and life skills similar to The New Earth, but way less heavy...smiley face on the cover gives it away. Also the author is from beloved Australia and of all the self help books I've read...makes sense that you focus on your values first and then take small steps every day to work toward those. Appreciated the distinction b/t values and goals, as...more
Wandoo Ityavyar
Happiness Trap was one of the first books I read on my quest for personal enlightenment. One of the most profound things I read in Happiness Trap which I can exclusively look back and say I read it there first was that everyone feels that everybody except them has mastered the art of being happy all the time. This was fascinating to me because when I turned 20 I thought the universe was horribly off it's rocker because I suddenly wasn't happy all the time as per usual. I also was able to tempora...more
To begin, I think that the people who tell me i should stop being so negative (Hannah C :]) should read this book. It is about how people believe that their ultimate goal consist of being happy all the time. However the author speaks of how this cannot be fulfilled, especially if this constant routine ends up leaving you miserable. This is ultimatly a self improvement book, but i enjoyed that it can be understood by anybody, and can relate to all. I think that people who might be searching for r...more
The concepts and exercises in this book are brilliant. Unfortunately I found the surrounding text wordy and tedious. You have to wade through a lot of generalities and they quickly become samey.

Once you sift through the text though there is a really excellent, sensible and simple framework to improving the way you look at happiness. Harris defuses a lot of modern mental attitudes and shows not only how dangerous they are to your mental health but also how to manage them.

I like the fact that he...more
Mike Smart
This book came up in a conversation with my doctor, at a regular physical. He mentioned that he found it useful. About 50 pages in, I wasn't all that sold on the concepts, but from the middle or so on I found the book quite interesting. A few concepts in the book are immediately useful and practical, and his explanation of the ACT Model is concise and convincing.

I especially liked the section on "the observing self." I've found that I go to that idea several times a day now to shape decisions a...more
Cole Stevens
I read this book during a pretty difficult time in my life, psychologically speaking, as it was highly recommended by a lot of people. Despite the saccharine language, repetition (what else should I have expected in a self-help book?), and parental tone, there are some good tools in here that help to reduce acute psychological suffering.

The gist: thoughts are just thoughts, connect with the present moment to draw yourself out of rumination, and live according to your values. To his credit, Harri...more
Paul Daniels
The author comes across fairly quickly as a self-serving "I wrote this book to glorify myself" type. There are several good techniques in there but you find yourself wishing to tell the author to come down from their high position a bit.

Personally I much preferred the style of Charles Linden's guide over this book and would actually recommend the Linden method for those who are trying to break out of anxiety disorder as opposed to general depression.
Robert Jonsson
Helt klart den bästa bok jag läst inom kategorin självhjälp, personlig utveckling.
Dess fokus är psykologisk flexibilitet, vilket i sin tur på ett bättre sätt kan hjälpa oss hantera smärtsamma tankar och känslor. Detta genom en metod som kallas ACT, Acceptance Commitment Therapy, där A:et är centralt och syftar på acceptans. Och tvärtom vad många här tror, så är inte acceptans liktydigt med kapitulation. Acceptans betyder inte att man gillar eller finner sig i saker. Det innebär enbart att det in...more
Chase Parsley
I started this book with skepticism but by the end was really into it. Harris combats cognitive strategies for being happy with more behaviorist methods, and some of his arguments are quite persuasive. He also does a good job talking about the importance of values in your life. A very good and easy to read book.
Will need to reread this book with a journal. But; the difference between a value directed life and a goal directed one explains why those five year articles never worked for me..where did I want to be in five years? Exactly where I was at that moment! and those articles mde me feel guilty! Not. any more!
I'm actually really amazed how different this book was almost precisely one year after I read it the first time. I got so much more out of it. I took my time, I took pages and pages of notes and I feel like I really got some of the concepts better. I can see why this was our "Bible" on NB1!!!!
Good outline of the highly effective "Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)".
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