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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 30 July 2013
In my opinion The Happiness Trap is one of the best self help books ever. The more you use it the more you get out of it and ACT is a radically different way of looking at mental and emotional health. The focus of The Reality Gap is sufficiently different to be a worthwhile study if you are a HT fan. And it is probably comprehensive enough to stand alone if you haven't read HT.
The difference in the focus is partly that Russ is talking about the big 'bad' events in life that hit us all now and again. But everything in the book is equally applicable to more everyday frustrations, fears and disappointments.
Improvements on HT are that there is a much greater focus on treating yourself kindly. This is really helpful and makes the other core techniques of ACT much more doable and gentle.
He also cuts to the chase quicker on core techniques which makes them easier to understand and to start practising. The depth he goes into in HT probably helps to really get a grasp of them but can be a bit forbidding in places.
He uses a bunch of new exercises that are very quick and effective and incorporate mindfulness, compassion and action.
Most of all for me is that he places Values more centrally and sooner in the discussion . I never could understand why he put the Values stuff at the end of HT. Seems to me it is not only a central plank but the prime motivator in ACT so needs to come early in the change journey or there might be no journey!
I get really excited about ACT out of all the therapies i have trained in. It is this central importance of Values that excites me. Not just individuals but organisations and even society seems to have lost the very understanding of what values are. We are being sucked into a world where what things look like is considered more important than what they are really like and what their purpose and value are. So we end up with shocks in everything from the bankers' greed to North Staffs et al hospitals lack of basic compassion as whole organisations have let go of their values in favour of targets, appearances and short term and superficial rewards like money and prestige. I hope ACT can spread from therapy into industry and organisations like the NHS so that we all can pursue fulfilling meaningful lives for ourselves and each other.
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on 28 November 2012
I am a fan of the author as I find his writing style easy to read. It is a book to keep referring back to as many times as is necessary. I find ACT is more approachable than Mindfulness itself as it feels more applicable to everyday modern life and throws a slightly different slant on the usual approach to dealing with common complaints such as anxiety and depression through CBT. As a sufferer of anxiety and depression I have found this book as well as 'The Happiness Trap' a refreshing and welcomed source of support in the modern age. It's a good dose of realism and offers an approach from a new direction that many of us would never be aware of especially today where we feel we do not even have time to think!
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on 21 February 2015
At this time of reading I have been really struggling with pain and fear in my life: fear/worry for my little 4 year old son as we proceed along assessment for autism, fear for my mum and her recent diagnosis & radiotherapy treatment and as a backdrop to our fears our rented home of 6 years being sold and now having 5 weeks to find a new home without the financial security we would have liked. At times I have felt close to breaking down completely when I feel overwhelmed.... However, I believe I am learning new life skills from this book that are helping me cope. Sometimes it's mind blowing, sometimes just helps me find a trickle of hope. It's enough. I am thankful to Dr Russ for this great book. For me, inspiring, helpful and a bit like having just the right kind words from a friend who really understands. Our challenges are still here and I still hurt & fear but I also feel renewed strength with skills I'm learning. The wisdom and exercises are helping me. I hope if you are reading this & considering a book such as this that you too will feel the kindness and wisdom from this book and that it helps you find hope and strength. I'd also recommend if you can, applying these principals whilst getting out into nature (a nearby park for me) and prayer helps me too.. Maybe even guided me to this book. Also consider same author another amazing book, 'The Happiness Trap'. If you are in pain, give this book a try. I wish you well.
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on 29 January 2013
Russ Harris writes with great clarity about the reality of life, bad things happen. He uses his own experiences in a way that shows that he is human and not a guru who has it all sorted and can find a way to move on in life when bad things happen.

Because he uses his own experience of his beautiful boy and the realisation that he was autistic this book would be particularly relevant to parents who have children with this or other disabilities. However the content has much wider application to those of us that face loss in life, this could be the consequence of bereavement, divorce loss of job or physical faculty. Life is painful and we can't escape this but he puts forward a way to make space for this pain and live, rather than struggle and add suffering
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on 27 November 2012
When we do not get what we want because it is beyond our reach (further progession within the company), capabilities of getting it ( becoming someone else i.e. as beautiful or rich as someone else...) or just impossible (for the one we are longing for is no longer amongst those who are alive or already living a happy life with someone else)...we often rush to fix this gap...the gap between the reality we are living in and the reality of our dreams...
There are a lot of books that tell us how to fix the gap and that is possible if we only want it. They would also claim and try to convince us that this is the way to be happy.
Russ Harris however, is more realistic about those unfixable gaps or rather shows us how we can live a fulfilled life looking within and not outside.
The book for those who are not afraid to wake up and live a happy life despite the weather of not eternal sunshine.
Highly recommended!
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on 4 January 2013
I came across this book purely by accident when browsing the bookshop and I am really glad I found it. I don't usually buy 'self help' books as such, and the ones I have bought I never finished due to loss of interest. The thing I really liked about this book is that the author would regularly acknowledge that it isn't just the simple act of 'positive thinking' that allows us to find fulfillment in life. Rather, the book teaches us to find peace when we experience negative emotions instead of trying to fight them. This is done using a variety of detailed 'mindfulness' techniques described in the book.

I loved how Russ Harris would use real examples from his own life (in particular his Autistic son) when explaining the ACT approach. I also appreciated how Russ Harris admitted convincingly that even HE needs to consciously remind himself of the techiques he is writing about during painful times in his life. This made me think of him as a human with actual insight and not just a know-it-all expert who may make the reader feel like they must develop sound coping skills within a day of reading their book.

All in all, this book does not claim to have all the answers to your problems (or reality gaps). It does however provide the reader with some food for thought when looking at painful emotions. It aims to give the reader the opportunity to see painful situations in a different light (compared to other books) and deal with the "here and now". Highly recommended.
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on 24 April 2012
I cannot recommend 'The Reality Slap' highly enough. I was slightly concerned when I first started to read it but as I settled down and took proper notice it soon became obvious what a well observed and very helpful book this is. It has already made a difference to my way of life, and it will be kept close at hand for me to refer to often.
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on 9 March 2013
Readable, practical and compassionate. A very humanistic and helpful book,written with humour, kindness and empathy. One of the least annoying and most helpful books of this genre that I've read.
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on 24 January 2014
I am not usually convinced by self help books - tomes on positive thinking leave me feeling negative! But I found this a refreshing change. The steps recommended are very clear, feasible and actually seem to work! The author's style is agreeable, not condescending, and the examples from his own personal life help to get the message across. I will read this again, more slowly and try to implement its recommendations more consistently, but already after a quick read I feel I have gained some useful ideas.
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on 20 March 2014
I must admit I found some of the advice good in this book, especially learning how to be kinder to oneself. However, maybe I am a little too old as a Grandmother, to appreciate most of the advice given as I have learned so much in my life that nothing much in this was new to me.
I would, however, recommend reading this book if one is unsure and unhappy with their life as it contains some very useful advice. It is very well written.
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