Dr. Russ Harris
Hi, I’m Russ… doctor, therapist, father, trainer of health professionals, and author of The Happiness Trap (plus eight other books).
I started my career as a newly-graduated doctor back in 1989, and soon discovered that most of my patients were expressing a significant degree of dissatisfaction in life; stress, anxiety and unhappiness were widespread. I strongly related to their struggles, because I was experiencing something similar myself.
Despite the fact that I had a successful career with a dream job, good income and high status, I was depressed, anxious, and overweight. I felt my life lacked a sense of meaning and purpose, and at times I was even suicidal.
I just couldn’t understand why I felt this way. I had achieved all the goals that society says tells us will make us feel happy. But it wasn’t working. And I wanted to know why. One thing was for sure, simplistic stories that it was all due to an unhappy childhood or too much negative thinking or a chemical imbalance in my brain were definitely not the answer.
So I set off on a journey to find out a) what makes people unhappy, and b) far more importantly, what creates genuine and lasting happiness. And I can tell you, that journey took me down a lot of blind alleys and dead ends. But eventually, it lead me to ACT – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
The moment I discovered this therapy, I fell deeply in love with it. It had a huge and profound impact on my life. Almost instantly, I began to develop a deep sense of purpose and meaning.
I found how to enrich and enhance my life, and transform the way I dealt with painful thoughts and feelings. I built a stronger connection with myself and others, which led me to feel that sense of warmth, closeness, belonging I’d been searching for all those years.
A Big Change
This marked a big change for me. I realised I was far more interested in helping my patients to build richer, more meaningful lives, than in writing prescriptions for medical conditions. So I threw away my prescription pad, and I retrained as a therapist. The result? Well, my income went down drastically, but my personal satisfaction grew exponentially.
In 2004, I went to the USA to train with the creators of the ACT model, and shortly thereafter, I started training the approach to Australian health professionals. Unfortunately, at that time, there was no easy way for the average person to learn ACT on their own, outside of seeing a trained therapist.
Wanting to bring the power of this evidence-based therapy to as many people as possible, I wrote my first book, The Happiness Trap. Published in Australia in 2007, it has now sold over a million copies worldwide.
The Happiness Trap Program
Built on the principles of simplicity, clarity, and having fun, this program will teach you how to use ACT model, to live a more meaningful and joyful existence, regardless of your current circumstances. I hope and trust you’ll find it as powerful and life-transforming as I did.
Other Stuff I Do
The Happiness Trap is my number one passion right now, but here are five other things I’m also very enthusiastic about:
- Training health professionals in the ACT model. For information on my online training courses, go to www.ImLearningACT.com and for my live workshops, go to www.actmindfully.com.au
- Transforming workplaces for greater health and wellbeing. For more information, go to www.PsyFlex.com.au
- Watching zombie movies. For years I was embarrassed to admit this, but hey, each to their own. My favourite TV show is The Walking Dead (and I also read the books and the comics).
- Eating chocolate. My biggest vice (after zombie movies). I always eat way too much of it.
- Writing novels. My first novel (an outrageous sex comedy) was a flop – it’s no longer in print. But I’m now beavering away on my second one, an apocalyptic thriller (and no, it’s not about zombies).