the happiness trap

The Happiness Trap Pocketbook

Quick Overview

An illustrated guide on how to stop struggling and start living

Whether you’re lacking confidence, facing illness, stressed at work, struggling with low self-esteem, trying to lose weight or quit smoking, or just wanting to be happier, healthier, and more fulfilled — in this book you will learn effective techniques to:
• reduce stress and worry
• rise above fear, doubt and insecurity
• handle painful thoughts and feelings more effectively
• break self-defeating habits
• develop self-acceptance and self-compassion
• let go of inaccurate and misleading (but very popular) ideas about happiness, and
• create a rich, full and meaningful life.

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Health Professional Review

Health Professional Reviewer: Gill Eastgate, Mental Health Practitioner. Reviewed 18 November 2015.

Book Title: The Happiness Trap Pocketbook:  An illustrated guide on how to stop struggling and start living.


Dr Russ Harris is a medical practitioner, psychotherapist and executive coach.  He is the author of seven books on ACT, and as well as maintaining a private client practice, he is a world-renowned trainer in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.  So far he has trained 17,000 health professionals worldwide in the approach.

Date published: 2014

Suitable for: Young people, perhaps from 18 years and older.  Based on level of maturity and commitment to making change. Intermediate reading level.

Problems addressed: 

  • Anxiety and depression.
  • Experiencing a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Book Summary: 

Perhaps the best way of summing up this book is to quote from the back cover “Learn how to stop struggling for perfect happiness and instead lead a richer life”.

This book, is an abbreviated version of  Russ Harris’ bestseller The Happiness Trap.  Russ is an Englishman, now living in Australia, and former GP who now works as a psychotherapist, coach and trainer.  The books he writes – and there are others apart from The Happiness Trap – utilize a growing evidence-based psychotherapeutic model:  Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ‘ACT’ for short.

The ACT model introduces a way of dealing with both everyday difficulties and stressors as well as diagnosed psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression.  Central to the ACT model are the concepts of acceptance and commitment.  Like most models there is a lot of depth and various techniques which ACT introduces to enable people to live according to their principles and values, even in the face of difficulties which they cannot change.

The Happiness Trap Pocketbook is a brief, simplified and fun introduction to ACT principles, ideas and ways of empowering people to live more fulfilling lives – no matter what circumstances or personal issues  they may be struggling with.

 Strengths and Weaknesses:

The use of cartoon-like illustrations, and the corresponding reduction in written text make this an attractive book for those who would not readily engage in reading a self-help manual.  The illustrations invite engagement and provide clarification  of the written text.  The principles of ACT are presented simply and without a lot of theoretical overlay which makes the book user friendly.


Like most self-help books however the reader must be highly motivated and committed in order to work through the exercises and implement the changes which The Happiness Trap Pocketbook presents.

I believe this book is most valuable as an adjunct for a person who is already familiar with ACT but requires a reminder of the principles, or for a person who is working with a therapist/ counsellor who utilizes ACT.

The ACT model is evidence based with a substantial body of research supporting its principles and interventions in many different areas of mental health as well as the life coaching arena.


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