Book Review: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
Author: Dan Harris
237 pages, itbooks, $25.99
Without question, 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
is a must-read. We all have that voice in our heads that causes us to doubt ourselves, relive our past mistakes, and anticipating future ones. All the while, you are trying to perform to your best ability in your daily life. It can be maddening and may send you down a dark path. In order to tame this voice, Dan Harris skeptically entered into the realm of Buddha, embraced meditation, and came out 10% Happier. You have likely seen author Dan Harris as a co-anchor on ABC’s Nightline or the weekend edition of Good Morning America. This book illustrates his journey as an ambitious reporter in Bangor, Maine through his storied career working for ABC.
It begins with Harris’s on-air melt-down on June 7, 2004 in front of millions of people while filling in on Good Morning America. This panic attack was caused by his undiagnosed depression and the obnoxiously destructive voice in his head, which elicited doubt and fear. In order to end this piercing anxiety, Harris, a self-described skeptic and non-believer, began seeing a psychotherapist. Shortly after, he became friends with a powerful Evangelist preacher, who ended up in a gay-sex scandal. Harris was later exposed to Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra before finally and somewhat incredulously finding happiness in Buddhism, more specifically, meditation. But this is not an easy journey for Harris, who as an investigative reporter constantly questions his sources material. As a skeptic, Harris grew up in a household with a non-practicing Jew and an atheist for parents. He obsessively and meticulously attempts to discover how to balance being an ambitious reporter with maintaining the mindfulness of the dharma. Oftentimes Harris’s reason outweighs his ability to suspend disbelief and accept many Buddhist teachings. Buddhism, in his opinion, is associated with many unsavory stereotypes.
Despite his initial aversion, 10% Happierrepresents Harris’s spiritual awakening and the discovery of his balance. While you follow Harris on his journey, you will be able to look reflectively on your own life, on your own nagging voice, and might consider trying meditation for yourself. He turns many skeptics into believers through his mantra that meditation makes you 10% Happier. Harris chronicles how meditation turned from a cult-like subculture into the mainstream wherein businesses such as General Mills use it in order to improve staff productivity. Meditation has been around for over 2,500 years and scientists today are conducting studies, as Harris points out, that actually prove that meditation has real world benefits. It relieves stress, sparks creativity, may improve your blood pressure and help you live longer.
Through his humorous, self-deprecating candor, you will never feel detached from the book. 10% Happieris a go-anywhere book; keep it at work so you can review his instructions for meditation when you have a free moment, or bring it to the beach so you can relive his struggles and reflect on your own. In the chapter titled “Hide the Zen,” Harris details a list of ways in which he can balance “the price of security” with “the wisdom of insecurity” that you can use in your own life. Along with this list, dubbed “The Way of the Warrior,” Harris provides detailed descriptions for each of the ten nuances for being both Zen and ambitious.
10% Happieris a page turner. What makes this book so great is that Harris does not ask you to make a lifestyle change; in fact, he merely wants you to expand your mind. You do not have to go full yogi in order to reap the benefits of meditation. If you are committing to live a happier, healthier life through meditation, Harris’ book can help you get there.