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The Happiness Trap
Read in 13 min.
Listen in 17 min.
Learn the key ideas of the book by Russ Harris

The Happiness Trap

Learning to overcome difficulty and live life

The Happiness Trap teaches us to recognise the mental prison that we have locked ourselves into with our incessant quest for happiness. When we learn to make space for any unpleasant thoughts and emotions that arise and reduce the impact that they have on our lives, we can finally put all our energy into creating an existence that is full of meaning. By learning to develop psychological flexibility, we can understand the importance of living in the present moment, recognising our deep-seated values and acting in accordance with them. Trying to grab happiness is a waste of time, what we need to do is to free ourselves from the trap that our mind has us gripped in, and to do this, let our awareness become our most precious ally.

The Happiness Trap
Read in 13 min.
Listen in 17 min.

The meaning that we give to the word happiness can make all the difference

The Stone Age man’s mind evolved to help him survive in a world fraught with danger and to ensure the continuation of the species. This predisposition proved to be useful and with the passing of centuries and millennia, the human mind became more and more able to make us perceive, see and foresee the dangers and pitfalls that are part of our very existence. This instinct has never stopped working for us and to this day its function is to constantly evaluate the situations that we find ourselves in, to quickly understand whether or not we are in danger. Even with the best intentions, the human mind is naturally prone to suffer: if we accept this fact and do not expect to change it, the quality of our very existence will increase.

If we only think of happiness as “feeling good”, we will not get very far, because feelings of pleasure are ephemeral, destined to disappear; if, on the other hand by happiness, we mean living a life that is rich and full of meaning, then things will start to look very different. In that case we will no longer strive to continuously experience fleeting moments of pleasure, but we will look to give a deeper meaning to our existence, remembering that a life lived to its fullest includes the whole range of human emotions, including pain.


The key ideas of "The Happiness Trap"

The meaning that we give to the word happiness can make all the difference
Happiness myths to dispel
The solution is the problem if we want to feel good
Developing psychological flexibility with the help of mindfulness, values and action
Our thoughts are not absolute truths
Accepting unpleasant thoughts and emotions to change our lives for the better
The observing self: a precious ally to transform our lives
Learning to stop judging our emotions
Having deeper awareness by focussing attention on the breath
The role of the thinking-self and useless self-esteem
We are so much more than our thoughts
Creating a life worth living
Discomfort is the thing that stands between us and our goal
Take-home message
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