Books that might help: The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris

“Having negative thoughts and feelings means I’m a normal human being.”

Russ Harris – The Happiness Trap: How to stop struggling and start living

This was the first “self-help” book that actually made any sense to me. Before I read this, I’d pretty much dismissed the idea of this sort of book entirely. That’s probably because it said something very different to all the other stuff that clearly didn’t work.

What is it about?

It said it’s okay not to be happy! That, actually, the root of most of our problems as humans is this ridiculous idea that we are supposed to be happy all of the time. We are not. But we think we should be, so we feel like there is something horribly wrong with us if we are not happy. And then our reactions to being unhappy are the things that twist us into tangles of anxiety and depression … and every other psychological issue for that matter.

“Myth 1: Happiness Is the Natural State for All Human Beings. Myth 2: If You’re Not Happy, You’re Defective” ….

Russ Harris – The Happiness Trap: How to stop struggling and start living

It’s just not natural for our minds to be happy all of the time. Humans face threats in the world, and so our minds work in a way that is meant to protect us. They look out everywhere for signs of social rejection, potential failures and physical dangers. When they pick up these cues, they let us know. For good measure they may also trawl through old memories and worries, making us feel even worse. That’s just what minds do! And the more we try to stop that happening, the worse things get. Ironically, trying to wipe all of this out just gets us more stuck in low mood and, eventually depression.

“So from now on, catch your mind in the act when it tries to hook you with these questions and comments. Then simply refuse to play the game. Thank your mind for trying to waste your time and focus instead on some useful or meaningful activity. You may find it helpful to say, “Thanks, Mind, but I’m not playing today.”

Russ Harris – The Happiness Trap: How to stop struggling and start living

It was first published in 2007 and is even more accurate today, as the mechanisms that keep us stuck in the happiness trap, are increasingly present in our online world. The material to drive ourselves to misery because we don’t feel as happy with our lives is endless. Now more than ever we need ways to switch off to the constant drone of unhelpful comparisons.

Fortunately, it’s all there. And it’s easy than you think. This approach is not about doing more, being better, struggling harder to an elusive state of happiness. It’s about letting go of that stress and instead focusing our energy on creating a life of meaning!

In over ten years as a Clinical Psychologist, the approach described in this book is the one I’ve personally found most helpful. So it’s the one I follow in my work too. If you want to know more about that, click the button.

Who is this book for?

Everyone. I genuinely think we all need to read this book. Even if you are not that into reading, take a look at the cartoon version! It is particularly useful if you are experiencing chronic unhappiness or struggling with a sense of life just not being as you want it.

Two Clicks Psychological Services is the website of Dr Laura Walton, a UK registered Clinical Psychologist who is qualified to provide consultation and psychological therapy, via online videocall. For more details, visit the main page and make a request.