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10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story Hardcover – March 11, 2014


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10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story + 10% Happier by Dan Harris - 30 Day Workbook + Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: It Books (March 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062265423
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062265425
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (844 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Dan Harris
Gretchen Rubin
Gretchin Rubin interviews Dan Harris about 10% Happier

I met Dan Harris when a mutual friend suggested that we’d enjoy talking about habits, happiness, and meditation. We had a great discussion, and in fact, Dan was one of several people who inspired me to try meditating. 10% Happier is his hilarious, thought-provoking book about his experiences with meditation. I knew Dan had done a lot of thinking about the relationship of habits and happiness, and how to use habits to foster happiness, so I was eager to hear what he had to say.

Gretchen: What’s a simple habit that consistently makes you happier?

Dan: I never in a million years thought I’d be the type of person who’d say this, but my answer is … meditation.I had always assumed that meditation was for robed gurus, acid-droppers, and people who keep yurts in their backyard. But then I heard about the explosion of scientific research that shows the practice has an almost laughably long list of health benefits, from lowering your blood pressure to boosting your immune system to essentially rewiring your brain for happiness. I started with five minutes a day, and very quickly noticed three benefits: 1. Increased focus, 2. A greater sense of calm, and 3. A vastly improved ability to jolt myself out of rumination and fantasies about the past or the future, and back to whatever was happening right in front of my face.Over time (I’ve now been at it for about four years and do 35 minutes a day), an even more substantial benefit kicked in: I created a different relationship to the voice in my head. You know the voice I’m talking about. It’s what has us reaching into the fridge when we’re not hungry, checking our e-mail while we’re in conversation with other people, and losing our temper only to regret it later. The ability to see what’s going on in your head at any given moment without reacting to it blindly—often called “mindfulness”—is a superpower.I’m certainly not arguing that meditation is a panacea. I still do tons of stupid stuff – as my wife will attest. But the practice has definitely made me happier, calmer, and nicer.

Gretchen: What’s something you know now about forming healthy habits that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

Dan: A neuroscientist friend of mine once told me, “The brain is a pleasure-seeking machine. ” Usually, we do what makes us feel good. What I know now about habit formation that I didn’t know then is that I generally cannot create or break habits unless there is compelling self-interest involved.So, for example, with meditation, I was motivated to start the habit by the science that says it’s good for you—and I’ve been able to maintain it because, while the act of meditating is often quite tough, the “off-the-cushion” benefits are so readily apparent to me.

Gretchen: Do you have any habits that continually get in the way of your happiness?

Dan: Two biggies:1. Multitasking: I’ve seen all the studies that say our brains are not capable of concentrating on more than one thing at a time and that multitasking is a huge drag on efficiency and productivity. And yet, I still frequently find myself flitting between email, Twitter, phone calls, and whatever work I’m actually supposed to be doing.2. Mindless eating: I try very hard to eat healthfully, but I am a huge sucker for pasta, cheeseburgers, and cookies—and when I get into a feeding frenzy, it’s hard for me to stop. These episodes are almost always followed by a shame spiral.In theory, meditation should help with the above, since it teaches you to pay careful attention to whatever you’re doing right now. Alas, I still struggle. Hence the title of my book.

Gretchen: Have you ever managed to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how?

Dan: In my early thirties, as a young reporter for ABC News, I spent many years covering wars. When I got back from one particularly long and hairy run in Baghdad, I became depressed. In an act of towering stupidity, I began to self-medicate, dabbling with cocaine and ecstasy. In hindsight, it was an attempt, at least partly, to recreate some of the thrill of the war zone.A side-effect of all of this, as my doctor later explained to me, was that the drugs increased the level of adrenaline in my brain, which is what, in all likelihood, produced a panic attack I had on live television in 2004 on Good Morning America. The shrink I consulted about this decreed in no uncertain terms that I needed to stop doing drugs—immediately. Faced with the potential demise of my career, breaking this habit was a pretty obvious call.

Gretchen: Have you ever made a flash change, where you changed a major habit very suddenly?

Dan: In the summer after I graduated from high school, I did experience a “flash change. ” I was in my car, driving to go see some friends, and I decided—seemingly out of nowhere—that after years of being a mediocre high school student, I was going to truly apply myself in the next phase of my life. The next year, when my father saw my first college report card, he nearly cried.Interestingly, the fact that I did well in college has had zero practical impact on my career in television news. I don’t think any of my employers has ever asked about my grades. But that flash change established a long-lasting habit of hard work and ambition. Which, it must be said, has sometimes been to my detriment. It was, I now believe, my fervent desire to excel at my job that led me to plunge headlong into war zones without considering the psychological consequences—which, in turn, led to the drugs and the panic attack. I’ve found that meditation has really helped me strike a better balance between striving and stress.


From Booklist

Harris had the ambition and drive to rise to ABC News television anchor. He’d felt the “journalistic heroin” of reporting from war zones, anchored national broadcasts, and even recovered from cocaine addiction. But he also had a voice in his head, the same voice most of us wrestle with, constantly second-guessing him. If he could only quiet that voice, he’d be happier and less stressed. Harris was already covering the religion beat when he veered off on a personal journey to find answers beyond the self-help gurus. Along the way, he talked to Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, a host of Jewish Buddhists, and even the Dalai Lama before reluctantly trying meditation. Approaching it with all the skepticism of a reporter, Harris checked out the neurological research and learned that meditation was being used in the corporate and military arenas to heighten focus and clarity. After going on a meditation retreat, he ultimately found the balance he sought between ambition and inner peace. In this brave, completely engaging, and often hilarious book, Harris achieves his aim of demystifying meditation. --Vanessa Bush

More About the Author

Dan Harris is a correspondent for ABC News and the co-anchor for the weekend edition of Good Morning America. Before that, he was the anchor of the Sunday edition of World News. He regularly contributes stories for such shows as Nightline, 20/20, World News with Diane Sawyer and GMA. Harris has reported from all over the planet, covering wars in Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine and Iraq, and producing investigative reports in Haiti, Cambodia, and the Congo. He has also spent many years covering America's faith scene, with a focus on evangelicals -- who have treated him kindly despite the fact that he is openly agnostic. He has been at ABC News for 13 years. Before that, he was in local news in Boston and Maine. He grew up outside of Boston and currently lives with his wife, Bianca, in New York City.

Customer Reviews

It is very well written, funny, and informative.
Lou B.
I like Dan Harris as a reporter, and a friend had said she'd liked the humorous side of 10% Happier.
Mary at Success
Thanks to Dan Harris for sharing his story with humor and honesty.
Toni

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

187 of 203 people found the following review helpful By Casey Ellis on March 11, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well, I *have* read the book--got it on my Kindle a few minutes after 9 p.m., read til midnight and finished it this morning. Harris is funny, self-deprecating and one hell of a writer. I've been interested in Buddhism and mindfulness since a trip to Burma last year but did nothing concrete towards pursuing a practice. Now I am enthused and confident that I see how to begin. And, more importantly, how to continue when the going gets challenging. I wish I had more stars to give.
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282 of 310 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Oceanfront TOP 50 REVIEWER on March 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Harris use to be a co-anchor of Nightline. In 2004, while doing an interview on Good Morning America, his life changed when he had a panic attack while on the show.

Mr. Harris realized he was overextended. He researched non-traditional and non-medical remedies while trying to decide the right path for him to follow. He choose meditation.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Harris had met with self help experts like Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle during his career. Still, he ended up working with a Mark Epstein, a doctor with Buddhist leanings. Together Mr. Harris dove into meditation and changed his life in the process.

The book goes into his 10 day meditation retreat and gives us some insight into the process, as he rewires his brain.
He discusses how meditation is no longer for "hippies" but now is being used by CEOs, scientists, and even marines to increase calm, focus, and happiness.

This book also takes a deep look into the neuroscience of meditation as well. An interesting read!
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103 of 114 people found the following review helpful By C.R. Hurst TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 12, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have a confession. Like the author of 10% Happier, I have an inner voice. A voice that is part fairy godmother, most troll under the bridge. A voice that can reassure but more often than not disparages. A voice that never shuts up. Buddhists call this voice "the monkey mind", the mind that all humans possess and the mind that Dan Harris tames with meditation. With surprising candor and wicked humor Harris chronicles his long and strange journey to become a better man--from his nationally televised anxiety attack on Good Morning America, to his abuse of cocaine, to his insatiable ambition as a journalist, and to his growing awareness that he needed to disentangle from "the clammy embrace of self-obsession." And although he remains skeptical of the new age spirituality in Buddhism, he finds solace in its practice of meditation and its concept of mindfulness--by learning to respond thoughtfully, rather than react thoughtlessly, to the world around him. Couldn't we all benefit from such a lesson?
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99 of 114 people found the following review helpful By an354 on April 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished reading 10% happier, and I really wanted to like it. I didn't. Here is why:

- If you are someone who is actually seeking advice on meditation technique, DO NOT buy this book. Even if you are a type-A, work-in-high-stress-situations-type, you would benefit much more from an author such as Jack Kornfield, who actually gives you undiluted Buddhist technique written in an incredibly user-friendly way. Jack gives you clear directions and rationale for why certain meditation techniques work. You'll try a few and see which ones work for you, and not use the rest. This book does not give you meditation instruction that works universally.

- The book ends with a a list of mindfulness "how-to's." The problem with this list is that, unlike the list of a truly experienced meditator who has the ability to distill really hard stuff into universally applicable guidance, Dan's list is HIS list. It didn't resonate for me. "Don't be a jerk" - that's not something that'll pop up in my head when someone is cutting me off on the highway. "Hide the Zen." "Meditate." (Seriously??) "The price of security is insecurity" - this is something of a Harris family catchphrase, but has absolutely zero meaning to me. Reading this book versus, say, The Joy of Living is akin to the experience of going to an university-level calculus class that's taught by the best professor in the school versus a crappy TA. A great teacher can boil really, really hard stuff down to a level that anyone can enjoy. A bad TA has you falling asleep in your chair. This book was written by the TA.

- A massive amount of this story is about how Dan Harris found Buddhism.
Read more ›
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94 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Shelley Straitiff on March 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an ambitious woman with a very disruptive and noisy "inner voice", I was surprised to hear Dan Harris's story. I was thrilled to see someone I respect so much as an intelligent, compassionate and "normal" guy talking about meditation and mindfulness. He's not a life-long expert in meditation or eastern philosophy, he's a genuine person I can relate to and trust.

I've become a huge fan of Dan over the past few years, and especially since watching him anchor weekend GMA. I bought the book immediately when I heard about it. Sure, I'm biased. But, I love the conversational approach of the book. It's reality, describes a personal journey, and shares a solution.

More later when I finish, but for now I want to see this book get a chance despite a couple ridiculous reviews from people who have nothing better to do than prevent others from finding (more) happiness.
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