The Happiness Trap: How to Stop Struggling and Start Living

Russ Harris, Author, Steven Hayes, Foreword by , foreword by Steven Hayes. Shambhala/Trumpeter $14.95 (246p) ISBN 978-1-59030-584-3

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)

Reviewed on: 04/07/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 271 pages - 978-1-84529-825-8
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