- File Size: 993 KB
- Print Length: 260 pages
- Publisher: Dey Street Books; Reprint edition (March 11, 2014)
- Publication Date: March 11, 2014
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00FJ376CS
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #147,923 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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 Kindle Edition
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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.
The science supporting the health benefits of meditation continues to grow as does the number of Americans who count themselves as practitioners but, it took reading 10% HAPPIER to make me actually want to give it a try.--Richard E. Besser, M.D., Chief Health and Medical Editor, ABC News
An enormously smart, clear-eyed, brave-hearted, and quite personal look at the benefits of meditation that offers new insights as to how this ancient practice can help modern lives while avoiding the pitfall of clich?. This is a book that will help people, simply put.--Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
This brilliant, humble, funny story shows how one man found a way to navigate the non-stop stresses and demands of modern life and back to humanity by finally learning to sit around doing nothing.--Colin Beavan, author of No Impact Man
In 10% Happier, Dan Harris describes in fascinating detail the stresses of working as a news correspondent and the relief he has found through the practice of meditation. This is an extremely brave, funny, and insightful book. Every ambitious person should read it.--Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith
Startling, provocative, and often very funny . . . [10% HAPPIER] will convince even the most skeptical reader of meditation's potential.--Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project
A compellingly honest, delightfully interesting, and at times heart-warming story of one highly intelligent man's life-changing journey towards a deeper understanding of what makes us our very best selves. As Dan's meditation practice deepens, I look forward to him being at least 11% happier, or more.--Chade-Meng Tan, author of Search Inside Yourself
10% Happier is a spiritual adventure from a master storyteller. Mindfulness can make you happier. Read this to find out how.--George Stephanopoulos
Part-science, part-memoir, and part self-help, Harris outlines specific ways he learned to, well, chill the f#%k out.--GQ
A self-help guide even skeptics will embrace . . . Harris crushes stereotypes about meditation and recounts how it slashed his stress and quieted his anxious mind.--Parade --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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It's a fine book of you'd like a peek into the world of network news, however, definitely not worth investing your time to read if you're seeking better insight on how meditation and positivity can improve your attitude. 》》》》》NOT A "SELF-HELP" BOOK as it is portrayed.
It was not what I expected. It's an autobiography of Dan's life which I was not interested in reading. It's a book about his journey to meditation. The book is extremely well written which is why I finished it quickly, but if I could do this again, I would NOT purchase this book. Not enough value.
Thanks Dan. I appreciate your honesty.
With wit and humility, Harris openly shares his struggles with anxiety in his life and career in front of a camera. Starting with his on-the-air panic attack in 2004, Harris recounts how his ambition-fueled, perfectionist, non-stop work ethic left him subject to emotional meltdowns that led him to use cocaine to self-medicate. Forced to examine his inner life, he recounts his highs and lows navigating the maze of self-help and professional help to find inner peace without sacrificing his competitive edge.
Along the way you are treated to gems of observation the likes of which you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere in print, even in someone’s private email, but especially in a book so enthusiastic about mindfulness. Yet it’s Harris’ realism and, undoubtedly, his discipline at finding unique angles to report that makes this book so special.
For example, commenting about something many people have probably thought but no one has dared to speak, he says: “Turns out, mindfulness isn’t such a cute look. Everyone is in his or her own world, trying very hard to stay in the moment. The effort of concentration produces facial expressions that range from blank to defecatory.”
Then there’s this nugget, when he refers the practice of some of his fellow retreat participants to bow to a statue of the Buddha: “I’m still bowing to the Buddha, but mostly for the hamstring stretch.”
As a psychotherapist and teacher of mindfulness-based counseling techniques, I am highly recommending 10% Happier to both my clients and student/colleagues. Here’s why. Harris is a synthesizer, rendering the dense subjects of mindfulness culture, science, and meditation-user experience into a three-part harmony that immediately makes you want to hear more. His stories pull you in. Before you know it, you’re in the story yourself, identifying with one of the zillions of facets that emerge in his writing.
Whether it’s his reporting of and friendship with Ted Haggard, the fallen-from-grace evangelical church leader, or his confessions of insecurity working among television giants like Peter Jennings and Diane Sawyer, Harris uses a running psychoanalysis of himself as the instrument which carries the reader deeper into contemplation of their own psyche.
Admittedly, this book isn’t a how-to for meditation, nor is it a scientific discourse about neurobiology. (Bookstores are already filled with these.) But as I like to say about the healing work of psychotherapy, it moves the ball down the field. For experienced meditators, perhaps it challenges some of the sacred attachments (a nice way of saying “ruts”) you have in your current practice. For beginners, moving the ball down the field might look like the simple act of attending your first yoga session and having the confidence to know you don’t need to learn Sanskrit or wear spandex (but hey, spandex is cool too).
After reading 10% Happier, I feel closer to the amazingly diverse and rich community of mindfulness practitioners that I might not have learned about if I kept my literary diet fixed on those from the same mindfulness “tribe” I’ve trained and practiced with. Thanks to Dan’s investigative narrative and personal prose, his book is a powerful resource to help you wake up from life on automatic.
As Leo Tolstoy once said: “In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.” Dan Harris will help you do this. 10% more.
Top international reviews
I purchased this book, rather than his current release to get more insight into the man. In this fascinating and brutally honest autobiography of his journey we learn about his first dabbles with meditation and how his journey into Buddhism unfolds.
I have no desire to be a Buddhist but I am keen to find a way to calm my racing twenty first century brain. Dan doesn't give a step by step guide to meditating, but he has certainly whet my appetite to give it more than a passing thought.
Very well written and accessible, which is to be expected from a lifelong journalist.
This book will be encouraging for those who seek the effects of Mindfulness practice as a way to reduce stress and anxiet, using it as a kind of'salve' in the form of 'brain exercises'. However I would encourage further exploration when you get the urge. I wouldn't recommend this book to those already using Mindfulness in their life as a regular practice....although there are a few good laughs!
There is some useful stuff in here, and even some interesting stuff, but unless you either need to be convinced of Harris' credentials as a believer only in what empirically works before you'll take his word about his experiences with meditation, or you have a similar work hard party hard never live in the moment attitude to life, then large chunks of this book are going to pass you by. If you have any experience whatsoever with mindfulness or meditation and have discovered it helps you, then IMO you're not gonna learn anything you don't already know, and if you want to learn more about it, then you may well get frustrated with how much of this is biography.
I neither know nor care who Dan Harris is, so I have no urge to read his life story. For me, there was way too much of him in this book, and I skimmed huge chunks because hoo boy, can he talk about himself! If you do care about this man's story in particular, or you recognise yourself in his life, then that might well add value for you. For me, it just added bulk.
His ability to describe your internal monologue through experiences of his own is second to none. Not only that, he describes meditation in a way without flowery language and actively dispelling all the 'hippie-like, pseudo-scientific' culture around it.
The book is something you'll come back to and re-read and honestly it can make us all better people. It's also laugh out loud funny at points which makes it a dream to read.
A must read for all people.
I loved this book. I'm already a meditator and not at all a skeptic who needs convincing but loved reading the process the author went through during his discovery of meditation and it's myriad benefits surrounded by judgemental, even mocking, people.
Dan is very self-aware, writes very well (a journalist, after all), and funny as heck; literal LOLs all the way through. I enjoyed this one tremendously; I even read the acknowledgements!
There’s some good tips in the appendices about some of the technique (s) of meditation. Would recommend