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The Happiness Trap: How To Stop Struggling And Start Living

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  6,363 ratings  ·  511 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

Kindle Edition, 258 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2007)
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Gina Maybe because so many people aren't grateful for what they do have and instead fixate on what they don't.....sometimes on true "first world problems."…moreMaybe because so many people aren't grateful for what they do have and instead fixate on what they don't.....sometimes on true "first world problems." Or, if they get stuck in depression or anxiety over their situation, sometimes perspective into how others deal with adversity might help? (less)
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 ·  6,363 ratings  ·  511 reviews

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May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 18, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
4.5 stars

An excellent book I would recommend to anyone interested in mental health, either their own or those around them, or the concept at large. In The Happiness Trap, Russ Harris crafts a persuasive, intelligent argument for why we should stop aiming for happiness and instead aim for a mindful, values-driven life. His ideas in this book come from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), a newer, third-wave cognitive behavioral therapy that has shown promising effectiveness in research
Philip Glennie
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Daniel Taylor
Mar 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
I don’t know how I feel about this book. It’s basically a client-friendly overview of Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) and offers instructions on how to implement associated techniques and interventions.

Essentially, ACT suggests that there is no way to eliminate pain in life, so learning to accept it and channel your energy into activities that have value to you leaves you more prepared to live effectively and without a lot of wasted time fighting reality.

I agree with the central
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(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
Chanel J
Oct 24, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While the ideas and techniques discussed in this book are interesting, the way it is written is insultingly patronising and alternates between speaking to you like a child and yelling at you like an impatient parent. This attitude ruined the book for me.
Dec 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Hayley Waterhouse
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Happiness Trap is one of the best self help books I've read. Definitely recommend it if you want to learn more about ACT.
Daniel Taylor
What if you could find a way to handle the thoughts that derail you and the emotions that overwhelm you?

This book introduces Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) as that solution. Think of it as a workbook for fully experiencing life.

The three parts of ACT are:
• Defusion: where you see all thoughts as just stories and so unlink yourself from them.
• Expansion: where you make room for uncomfortable feelings and sensations rather than seeking to avoid them.
• Connection: where you bring your
Robin Gillmore
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 -
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.
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had been hearing about ACT here and there and was mildly curious, but decided to pick up this inexpensive book at the encouragement of one of my students. I'm happy I did.

ACT takes a refreshing approach to negative feelings. Stop struggling against them, says the theory. They're part of life. The more you fight them, the worse it is. After using a lot of CBT with mixed results, I appreciated an alternative to arguing with negative cognitions.

ACT is based on six principles: Defusion, or the
"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
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone struggling with negative self talk
This book is a quick read and a fresh perspective on negative thinking.

This book is a very good self-help book for anyone who is having trouble with negative self talk. Very simply written and very amusingly illustrated, this book was easy to read and leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling. The book reminds you that it is okay to feel sad/upset/disappointed as these are normal feelings in life. The author points this out using various exercises and illustrations. Not only do the exercises get
Chase Parsley
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jem Friar
Nov 17, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Don't Buy this book as a Kindle!!!

This book has not been formatted properly as a Kindle book. All of the pictures are tiny and the writing is illegible. I wish it were possible to get a refund. Useless and disappointing!
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mental-health
My quibble with this book is the same quibble I have with most self-help books. These books remind me of Pastor Mike. Pastor Mike, you see, had a good command of the English language, had a soothing voice, but he underestimated the intelligence of his parishioners and would reiterate his main message over and over, heaping on one illustrative anecdote after another. God bless Pastor Mike, and God bless self-help books like this one, which help many people. I'm sure that some enjoy this ...more
Simon Eskildsen
The book preaches the methodology "ACT": accept your emotions and feelings, connect with your values, and take action. The 'happiness trap' is that we typically define happiness by the intensity and quantity of positive emotion and only a little negative. Instead, he advocates we elicit a mindful practice and let our thoughts pass through, label them, and distinguish them from our own. He uses the analogy of quicksand: that fighting anxiety and fear will fuel it, making it worse. He describes an ...more
Romany Arrowsmith
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As Elizabeth Barret Browning once wrote:
—Men define a man,
The creature who stands front-ward to the stars,
The creature who looks inward to himself,
The tool-wright, laughing creature. ’Tis enough:
We’ll say instead, the inconsequent creature, man,—
For that’s his specialty. What creature else
Conceives the circle, and then walks the square?
Loves things proved bad, and leaves a thing proved good?

People are weird because we need books to trick ourselves into becoming LESS complicated. Anyway I found
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me 6 months to read the first part of the book, because mindfulness skills were not new for me and I have my own issues with mindfulness, so I was quite dissapointed while reading it. I was afraid, that if the main idea of this book is mindfulness it won't be very useful to me.

But when I got to the values and commitment part of the book, it was a complete change and really important to me. It definitely helped to gain a new perspective, helped me to get unstuck with the question about my
Keehan Koorn
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clear, concise, with a good sense of humour, this book guides people through the pitfalls and opportunities that come with how we think. It's got great examples and exercises that are easy to understand and challenging to complete! It's on my therapy shelf and I recommend it often.
Aleksandra Rakic
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the strategies that were provided in the book. I learnt about accepting thoughts and using strategies to manage these thoughts.
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology, how-to
Tactical, practical, theoretical, and strategic. This book and the simple ACT methodology weaponizes the most dynamite form of Viktor Frankl’s framework from MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING, forged on an anvil of stoicism and quenched in a refreshing bucket of mindfulness. I’ve been interested in mindfulness and CBT and stoicism for years, but the missing piece has been integration and implementation. This book IS that missing piece. Recommended.
May 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When my supervisor recommended this book to me, I was skeptical. As a rule, I tend to be skeptical 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 on ...more
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Dr Russ Harris is a medically-qualified doctor, stress consultant, executive coach, trainer, author, and a leading authority in the powerful new paradigm of Psychological Flexibility. (This is a revolutionary new development in human psychology that enhances performance, reduces stress, and improves health and wellbeing.) Dr Russ regularly presents workshops on Psychological Flexibility at both ...more
“The more we try to avoid the basic reality that all human life involves pain, the more we are likely to struggle with that pain when it arises, thereby creating even more suffering.” 17 likes
“Psychological flexibility is the ability to adapt to a situation with awareness, openness, and focus and to take effective action, guided by your values.” 12 likes
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