10% Happier by Dan Harris

Typically I do my book reviews in groups of 3-4 books but since I read 10% Happier by Dan Harris for book club and we just had our discussion the other night I wanted to give this book its own post.

After having a nationally televised panic attack, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists. Eventually, Harris realized that the source of his problems was the very thing he always thought was his greatest asset: the incessant, insatiable voice in his head, which had propelled him through the ranks of a hyper-competitive business, but had also led him to make the profoundly stupid decisions that provoked his on-air freak-out.

Eventually Harris stumbled upon an effective way to rein in that voice, something he always assumed to be either impossible or useless: meditation, a tool that research suggests can do everything from lower your blood pressure to essentially rewire your brain. 10% Happier takes readers on a ride from the outer reaches of neuroscience to the inner sanctum of network news to the bizarre fringes of America’s spiritual scene, and leaves them with a takeaway that could actually change their lives.

First off don’t let the title of this book fool you, it is not a self help book, it wont spell out for you in 10 easy steps how you can become 10% happier. I went into the book thinking this and boy was I mistaken.

It was more of a memoir about Dan Harris’s journey to meditation, his struggles with mastering it and understanding the purpose of the practice.

While we all (my book club) found Harris to be a bit cocky we did agree that it was nice to read a “non” yogi’s experience and view on meditation. He was in a unique position because as a newscaster he was able to interview a lot of well known meditation gurus and ask them a lot of questions that I think a lot of skeptics (myself included) have.

While I wouldn’t recommend this book to someone who is looking to learn how to meditate I would recommend it to someone who is curious about meditation but it a bit skeptical.

After our discussion the other night I realized there are a few take away’s from the book that I have been working to incorporate into my day to day life.

10% Happier Take Away’s:

1.) Respond don’t React: I think this is definitely something that we could all stand to work on. When we are mad, angry or upset our first intuition is to react rather than take a minute think about the situation and than respond appropriately. I am trying to be more aware of this and process things before defaulting to reacting.

2.) Let go of things that aren’t useful to you: Have you ever spent the day obsessing over things that aren’t important? You had a bad day.. let it go, you made a mistake..let it go. Things that aren’t serving you a positive purpose, let them go! If the thought isn’t serving you any purpose let it go.

3.) Things aren’t happening to YOU they are happening: Someone cuts you off on your way to work, it is happening, it’s not happening to you. You are stuck in traffic, it is happening. Someone is running late, it is happening. Next time you start to get worked up about something ask yourself if it is something that is happening to you or just happening.

4.) “when you have one foot in the future and another in the past you piss on the present”: This quote is one that all of us dogeared to discuss at our group. We all agreed how powerful it was. It serves us no purpose to lament on the past and constantly think about the future. When we do we miss out on all the great things that are going on in the present. I am really trying to work on being present and stay in the moment. I think as a woman in particular it is really hard for us to be present because it is always in our nature to worry about the future and plan for whats ahead. Stressing over things that have happened in the past or things that haven’t even happened yet doesn’t serve us any purpose!

The common theme in all of these take-away’s is to be more mindful of your thoughts and feelings and to learn how to let go of the things that aren’t serving you a positive purpose.

Meditation is supposed to help us become more mindful and to learn how to let these negative thoughts/emotions/feelings/stresses just float away.

Meditation is something I have been trying to incorporate into my daily life. I seem to put in good effort for a few weeks and then fall off. But after reading this book I feel rejuvenated and ready to try again. I hope to one day master it but as I have learned from this book it is a constant work in progress.

Some apps that I have used/have been recommended to me to help with meditation are:
Headspace which offers a 10 day trial

Calm : I currently use this app, it is free for the first 7 days after that you can pay for more guided meditations or I just use the timer they offer with the calming music and have been trying to do 5 minutes every morning).

10% Happier which is meditation for the “fidgety skeptic”

Have you read 10% Happier? What did you think?

Do you meditate?

Do you use an app to help guide you? If so what app?

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