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  • Published: 22 August 2023
  • ISBN: 9781761342721
  • Imprint: Penguin Random House Australia Audio
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 6 hr 20 min
  • Narrators: Gregory Smith, Stephen James King
  • RRP: $36.99

Better than Happiness

The True Antidote to Discontent




How a decade living in a rainforest led to forgiveness, acceptance and hope

How do you rebuild a broken life? Where do you begin?

These were the questions Gregory Smith asked himself after stumbling out of a NSW rainforest in 2000, close to death after living as a hermit in the wild.

Determined to turn a wretched life into one worth living, Gregory stripped himself bare emotionally, psychologically and spiritually to undertake an extraordinary personal reconstruction.

Today, with a PhD to his name and a loving family by his side, Gregory has overcome a life of homelessness and despair to become one of society’s great teachers. He is a senior lecturer in the social sciences at university, a government policy advisor and an advocate for the dispossessed and downtrodden the world over. And yet he doesn’t consider himself to be happy. ‘It is far more attainable, satisfying and fulfilling,’ says Gregory, ‘to simply be contented.’

In this insightful and empowering book, the author of Out of The Forest shares the mental strategies and practical steps he took to go from a friendless and futureless man to ‘the most contented person I know’, and how they can help you turn your life around, too.

  • Published: 22 August 2023
  • ISBN: 9781761342721
  • Imprint: Penguin Random House Australia Audio
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 6 hr 20 min
  • Narrators: Gregory Smith, Stephen James King
  • RRP: $36.99

About the author

Gregory Smith

Gregory Peel Smith was born into a dysfunctional and abusive household in Tamworth, New South Wales, in 1955. His formative years were variously spent in a brutal Catholic orphanage, foster care and juvenile detention centres. He became homeless and a rough sleeper for much of his adult life.


At thirty-five Gregory withdrew from the world to live in near total isolation in a rainforest in northern New South Wales. After ten years he finally emerged in 1999, close to death, to ‘give society another chance’. Hampered by a poor education, Gregory set his sights on studying – first for a Certificate I in Information Technology at a community college, then for a bridging course at TAFE. In 2004 he began a degree in sociology at Southern Cross University. Although he remained homeless during much of his studies, Gregory graduated in 2007 with first class honours.


In 2016 he was conferred with a PhD for his landmark research into the ‘Forgotten Australians’ – the estimated 500,000 people who, like him, suffered abuse in institutional out-of-home care during the twentieth century. Gregory was subsequently employed by Southern Cross University, where he is a research fellow, a senior lecturer in the social sciences and chair of the faculty of Business, Law and Arts.


Gregory is one of Australia’s foremost lived experience experts in post-traumatic stress disorder, mental illness, domestic violence, alcohol and drug addiction, rough sleeping and homelessness. A sought-after public speaker and policy advisor, he is a specialist consultant to a number of government initiatives including the End Street Sleeping Collaboration: a New South Wales Premier’s priority project to end street sleeping by 2030.


A leading advocate for the disenfranchised, disadvantaged and disconnected around the world, Gregory is a patron of numerous homeless vulnerability service providers in New South Wales and Queensland, and a global consultant for the Institute of Relational Health – a project run by CareSource in the United States to effect systems change in working with disadvantaged families.


Gregory’s memoir, Out of the Forest, was published in 2018. Today he lives in Orange, New South Wales, with his partner, Catherine, their family and his beloved brood of chickens.

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