“If beating yourself up was an effective way of changing your bad habits, wouldn’t you be perfect by now?” – Russ Harris
I took in my first event at The School of Life Melbourne last night (after sleeping through John Safran’s 6.30am Sunday Sermon).
I’ve been a fan of Russ Harris’s work after reading The Happiness Trap about a year ago. He cuts through the confusing and contradictory messages of positive psychology by describing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) in a very compelling way (I think Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a terrible name for what is essentially a very useful approach to everyday functioning). He used the term “psychological flexibility” – a concept I find fascinating.
The School of Life is great. Enter through a rickety bright yellow wooden gate to the backyard of what was probably a factory. A retro chrome caravan stands in as a cafe and wrought iron tables and chairs are laid with cheese and biscuits for guests.
You can’t help but sit down and talk to strangers. Anything else would be even more intolerable than approaching a stranger and engaging in small talk. Conveniently, each table had a “Conversation Menu” with tips on how to start and keep a conversation going. Fortunately, I find that saying hello is the hardest part. Once you’ve overcome that truly horrific prospect the words can flow.
Russ Harris’s event was more like a workshop/group therapy session than a lecture. I shared a moment with a fellow audience member in which we took turns telling each other what we’re bad at for 30 seconds. It was a strangely liberating and fun exercise.
The School of Life Melbourne Summer Term is a temporary concern, but hopefully the fact that almost every event is sold out will mean that The School of Life in Melbourne is here to stay.