My story

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 half a million copies worldwide.

The Happiness Trap Program

In collaboration with my creative team, I’ve spent an enormous amount of time and energy in creating The Happiness Trap online program, because I wanted to get this powerful approach out into the world; to put it into the hands of as many people as possible. 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:

  1. 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
  2. Transforming workplaces for greater health and wellbeing. For more information, go to www.PsyFlex.com.au
  3. 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).
  4. Eating chocolate. My biggest vice (after zombie movies). I always eat way too much of it.
  5. 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).