Customer Reviews: 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
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on March 11, 2014
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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on April 19, 2014
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. In the meantime, he tries drugs and speaks to a few uber-religious pastor-types and spiritual "gurus." This next sentence will save you 85 pages of reading: if you already know you don't like organized religion, don't take advice from leaders of organized religion, or anyone who calls him/herself a guru. If you are truly type A, you would probably not want to wade through 85 pages just to get to this point.

If you want real meditation advice, or are wading into 'spiritual' waters, here are some of the books that have worked for me (an overly driven and anxious individual who turned to meditation to calm the - down):

Anything by Jack Kornfield, but A Path with Heart stands out (for a meditation beginner, this book stands out)
The Joy of Living, Yongey Rinpoche Mingyur / Eric Swanson (not as much technique, but a solid read and incorporates research findings)
The Heart of Yoga, Desikachar (getting more into yoga, but yoga philosophy and meditation are fundamentally linked... this book can also give you a nice alternative in case vipassana Buddhist meditation is not your thing).
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on March 28, 2014
This is a really great book for anyone who is skeptical about meditation, or who is turned off by the new-age or spiritual language that often accompanies it. Dan studies Insight meditation, which is rooted in Theraveda Buddhism and is a form of Vipassana, but many people who practice it consider themselves secular, and practice it apart from a Buddhist-based belief system. Dan covers a lot of the medical research into the benefits of meditation, as well as organizations that are teaching it, such as the Marines, Target Corporation, and General Mills.

Dan is very funny, and provides a lot of entertaining stories about challenges in his career, and his experiences on a 10-day silent meditation retreat. He also offers basic mindfulness meditation instructions, and an FAQ for beginning (and skeptical) meditators. My only complaint is that at times he is a bit judgmental of spiritual teachers such as Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra. But on the other hand, this may resonate with his target audience. I know some people feel the book is very egotistical, but to me it came across as more of a newscaster/comedian voice. He opens up quite a bit about himself, including admitting to drug use early in his career, and various unsavory thoughts, so that humanized him in my eyes, and made me willing to put up with the occasionally arrogant or judgmental tone. He comes across as sincere in his desire to introduce people to meditation, and I can't really see any benefit to him in doing that, so I take his word for it that he just wants to share something that has been good for him.

The title comes from his attempts to explain his reasons for meditating to friends and colleagues. He finds that replying that meditation makes him '10% Happier' intrigues people, because it sounds real and attainable, but also makes it worth it. So overall, this book is a great memoir and introduction to meditation for anyone still on the fence about it, or skeptical.
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on March 11, 2014
People who have not read books should not be reviewing them! . Good for Dan who is willing to share a moving and authentic journey. Very funny and so well written. I admire this guy and kind of envy him. Thanks for all your hard found wisdom!
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on March 11, 2014
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 love Dan's honesty throughout this book. He allows the reader to see inside his mind by providing punchy commentary along with relaying conversations with spiritual leaders we are all curious about. It's comforting to know that someone as brilliant and successful as Dan struggles with the same noisy and critical internal voices. I've struggled with the "woo woo" books about mediation, but this book presents a relatable journey.

10% Happier is also entertaining and full of wit. I don't share Dan's (lack) of spiritual beliefs, but I can certainly respect his perspective and follow his journey to discovering the benefits of Buddhism and mediation. The conversation with religious leaders are revealing. Years ago, I read William Elliott's Tying Rocks to Clouds and enjoyed a similar tag-along journey of someone exploring big questions by interviewing the people we value as leaders. I'm envious of both authors for having the opportunity to ask meaningful questions of a variety of spiritual/religious/scientific leaders.

I recommend this book to anyone curious about mediation. It's not for the experts who already experience the benefits of quieting the mind. It's for the curious, the modern, over-busy, success-driven American. It's a friend telling you his story in hopes of helping you become happier.
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on November 3, 2014
Awesome Book!! Opened my eyes to Meditation and Increased Happiness!!
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This book starts out slow. The first 1/3 or so is a rather tedious and frankly boring review of the author's career at ABC News. I understand the point is to show the background as to his type A personality and why he needed to pursue relief but it could have been summarized in 10 pages and didn't need 70 pages. Those pages are full of irrelevant details that are not at all necessary to the thesis of the book. The author comes off as full of himself in this part of the book.

Having said the above the final 2/3 of the book is excellent and makes for compelling reading. This makes up for the early part and if you read this book I recommend you skim through it and get to the good stuff. Minus the early part of the book I could have easily given it 5 stars.

This should be considered an introduction and a fairly inspiring introduction to the methods and benefits of mediation. It is not an in-depth review by any stretch but a story of one person's discovery of the benefits of meditation and some concepts of Buddhism.

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on April 25, 2014
I probably expected this to be styled more as a resource of information on how Harris became 10% happier. I found instead a biography with a sprinkling of usable matter. Don't get me wrong: many, many people will find this interesting, and many of them need what Harris describes in their lives. But narrating the life of a very attractive, over-achieving video journalist and his run-in with the stress that obviously accompanies this lifestyle was not what I was seeking. Thankfully, he dips into the vernacular often enough to make it clear he's not a stiff-neck. I also believe he is completely sincere and a deeper thinker since beginning his journey into mindfulness.

I am reminded of a complaint he had about Eckhart Tolle, essentially that Tolle has the right idea and was completely sincere but did not offer anything useful. While Harris definitely attempts to offer some useful tidbits as he goes along, and some of these will be revelatory to a few readers, for the most part this was an autobiographical sketch of Harris to the present day. I blame myself for expecting some sort of guidance down the path he took, when the title clearly describes a personal journey.

If you are interested in mindfulness, meditation, and real, concrete guidance down a similar path of self-medication, you probably cannot do much better than The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. This one gives concrete steps along a path of practice toward compassion and dissolving of the illusion of self that bullies so many of us. I think Sam Harris's upcoming book should also provide practical guidance. Ultimately, I'm glad I read this book (over the course of three days; it is rather short), but it was a peanut butter sandwich and a Diet Mt. Dew (always welcome) when I needed a full meal.
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on June 11, 2016
Dan Harris's book is honest and he is actually funny. I appreciate the path he took and his ability to share intimate details of his life. I do think, however, there is a ton of condescension, arrogance, and narcissism here. He talks about how his wife has a "pedigree". If you are using that term still then God bless. The he constantly criticizes the retreat and others beliefs until it fits with him. I am not sure if he's doing this to acknowledge his "edge" but it's dehumanizing.
Overall, I get his point but I don't like how he arrived at such a point. I care less about how cool you and Bianca are and more about being 10% happier.
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on November 7, 2015
Forced myself to finish this book. The author is a supreme fathead. This book is not really about meditation, or Buddhism, it's about Dan Harris's ego. All along as I was reading I kept thinking 'soon he'll get it. he'll get what meditation is supposed to be about.' Big fail.
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