10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works

After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. After learning about research that suggests meditation can do everything from lower your blood pressure to essentially rewire your brain, Harris took a deep dive into the underreported world of CEOs, scientists, and even marines who are now using it for in...

Title:10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works
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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 Reviews

  • Dan Harris

    A heartbreaking work of staggering genius.

  • Jason Schofield

    I fucking loved this book. It's the most compelling introduction to meditation I've seen, after spending hundreds of dollars buying books on the subject. I have a therapy practice that is mindfulness-based. I often recommend informative-but-boring mindfulness-related books to people that they don't often finish. They'll almost certainly finish this one. It's terrific.

  • Maxine

    A fun read, albeit one that gets bogged down in too many internal monologues to make it a truly great book.

    Harris is a fun writer, yet I found this entire book to be strangely narcissistic. Which is ironic, as 'ego' is why he first started meditating in the first place.

    His interactions with Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra are, however, hilarious - and I sincerely enjoyed how skeptically he approached the entire topic. Perhaps a bit too skeptically at times - his distrust of the entire subject ha

    A fun read, albeit one that gets bogged down in too many internal monologues to make it a truly great book.

    Harris is a fun writer, yet I found this entire book to be strangely narcissistic. Which is ironic, as 'ego' is why he first started meditating in the first place.

    His interactions with Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra are, however, hilarious - and I sincerely enjoyed how skeptically he approached the entire topic. Perhaps a bit too skeptically at times - his distrust of the entire subject had more to do with his own discomfort, instead of true skepticism of the science behind mindfulness.

    There was a bit too much name dropping for me, and I found the discussions on mindfulness, mediation and Buddhism a bit cursory. Yet, an enjoyable and easy read on a very timely topic.

  • Diane

    When a book means a lot to me, I have a more difficult time reviewing it. I finished this memoir a week ago and have been pondering it ever since.

    Dan Harris is a reporter and anchorman at ABC News. Back in 2004, he had a panic attack on air while trying to read the morning headlines. He admitted to a therapist he was very stressed about his career, and that he had previously used recreational drugs.

    Harris decided he wanted to find some peace of mind, and being a reporter, he researched differen

    When a book means a lot to me, I have a more difficult time reviewing it. I finished this memoir a week ago and have been pondering it ever since.

    Dan Harris is a reporter and anchorman at ABC News. Back in 2004, he had a panic attack on air while trying to read the morning headlines. He admitted to a therapist he was very stressed about his career, and that he had previously used recreational drugs.

    Harris decided he wanted to find some peace of mind, and being a reporter, he researched different ways to get there. Coincidentally, he was assigned to cover religion for the network, and he had the opportunity to interview spiritual leaders from a variety of different faiths. On the advice of a friend, he read Eckhart Tolle's bestselling book,

    , which then led him to Deepak Chopra's books, and then Harris became interested in meditation. He started his own daily meditation practice, and even attended some retreats. In the end, Harris was able to reduce his stress and estimated he had increased his happiness by at least 10 percent (clever title, by the way).

    This book worked for me on several levels. I spent 10 years working in news, and I enjoyed it as a memoir of the TV news industry. I understood the stress and anxiety Harris felt in his job, and how it can drain a person. The book also works as a primer to meditation, and Harris includes some good tips to anyone interested in trying to meditate. Additionally, I enjoyed the book as a spiritual journey, and was rooting for Harris to be successful in his quest to find some peace.

    This book is well-written, humorous and insightful, and I would highly recommend it.

    "It finally hit me that I had been sleepwalking through much of my life — swept along on a tide of automatic, habitual behavior. All of the things I was most ashamed of in recent years could be explained through the ego: chasing the thrill of war without contemplating the consequences, replacing the combat high with coke and ecstasy, reflexively and unfairly judging people of faith, getting carried away with anxiety about work, neglecting Bianca to tryst with my Blackberry, obsessing about my stupid hair. It was a little embarrassing to be reading a self-help writer and thinking,

    But it was in this moment, lying in bed late at night, that I first realized that the voice in my head — the running commentary that had dominated my field of consciousness since I could remember — was kind of an asshole."

    "Meditation was radically altering my relationship to boredom, something I'd spent my whole life scrambling to avoid ... Now I started to see life's in-between moments — sitting at a red light, waiting for my crew to get set up for an interview — as a chance to focus on my breath, or just take in my surroundings. As soon as I began playing this game, I really noticed how much sleepwalking I did, how powerfully my mind propelled me forward or backward. Mostly, I saw the world through a scrim of skittering thoughts, which created a kind of buffer between me and reality. As one Buddhist author put it, the 'craving to be otherwise, to be elsewhere' permeated my whole life."

    "It struck me that the voice in my head is still, in many ways, an asshole. However, mindfulness now does a pretty good job of tying up the voice and putting duct tape over its mouth. I'm still a maniacally hard worker; I make no apologies for that. I still believe firmly that the price of security is insecurity — that a healthy amount of neuroticism is good. But I also know that widening my circle of concern beyond my own crap has made me much happier. Paradoxically, looking inward has made me more outward-facing — and a much nicer colleague, friend, and husband."

  • Dan Dinello

    This bestseller annoyed me over and over. It's more of a memoir than a book about learning to meditate - something I do. But to read this book you must read about the life of this privileged rich white guy who has no social conscious and little interest in the people around him other than what he can exploit for a story. His arrogance is present in the subtitle - he reduced stress and kept his edge. But he never had an edge as far as I could tell. While the encouragement to meditate is positive,

    This bestseller annoyed me over and over. It's more of a memoir than a book about learning to meditate - something I do. But to read this book you must read about the life of this privileged rich white guy who has no social conscious and little interest in the people around him other than what he can exploit for a story. His arrogance is present in the subtitle - he reduced stress and kept his edge. But he never had an edge as far as I could tell. While the encouragement to meditate is positive, he has nothing new to say about the process. He mostly hates it until he has these wonderful break-throughs. I didn't like the author and, since the book focuses every page on the author, I didn't like the book.

  • Raquel Moss

    I've been under a fair bit of stress lately. Nearly a year into self-employment, work has become steadier, sometimes more than steady. Although I love it, I've finally come to understand why people yearn to meditate. With my mind racing with mostly unproductive worries and nags, I've been thinking that I should try mediation to calm the tumult and find 'flow' again.

    The problem has been finding a guide to meditation that isn't complete granola claptrap. I loaded Eckhart Tolle's

    o

    I've been under a fair bit of stress lately. Nearly a year into self-employment, work has become steadier, sometimes more than steady. Although I love it, I've finally come to understand why people yearn to meditate. With my mind racing with mostly unproductive worries and nags, I've been thinking that I should try mediation to calm the tumult and find 'flow' again.

    The problem has been finding a guide to meditation that isn't complete granola claptrap. I loaded Eckhart Tolle's

    onto my Kindle but gave up almost immediately. His meanings were almost completely opaque to me, and I didn't have to fortitude to stick through it. So when Dan Harris popped up on The Colbert Report (where he was a more eloquent guest than most on the show) to promote his book

    I figured I'd give it a try.

    Writing the above paragraphs, I've come to appreciate Dan Harris' book a little bit more. It's hard to write about mediation without sounding like a complete asshole. Dan gave it a fair shot, and his book was useful, though I never felt entirely compelled by his voice.

    Preci

    Journalist/News Anchor, extrovert, and work-a-holic Dan Harris becomes intrigued by meditation, and seeks to cut through the hippy-dippy bullshit in search of something more practical that he can apply to his daily life. He journeys, he stumbles, but eventually manages to create a mediation practice that fits within, and enhances his life. He says it makes him 'about 10% happier'.

    What I liked

    This isn't a life-hacking book. I was afraid that I was in for another Tim Ferris wank-fest, but I was pleasantly surprised by Harris' respect for the subject matter. Although Harris doesn't become a Buddhist, he explores Buddhism, and the role of meditation therein with care, and ultimately decides that while the spiritual aspect of Buddhism isn't for him, the mechanics of mediation are useful to him. From what I know of Buddhism as a whole, this is absolutely kosher (though correct me if I'm wrong).

    I like that Harris clung to his misgivings about Eckhart Tolle (whom he  finds a bit too whack-a-doodle) and Deepak Chopra (whom he considers to be insincere), and sought meditation practitioners and teachers whose practise is more deeply rooted in 'the real world'. In his words:

    Amen, brother.

    He frequently mentions that meditation has a terrible marketing issue in that its most vocal advocates are a bit too crunchy and/or otherworldly for the mainstream. He suggests several works for further reading which are rooted in science rather than mysticism, for folks who would prefer to read about meditation from that viewpoint.

    I also found the chapter on 'hiding the zen' to be useful. Although I'm blogging about it, one's self-help forays aren't always what you'd like discussed in the public sphere. It's nice to be able to slip under the radar as a meditator without showing your 'woo woo-ness' in public.

    What I didn't like

    I'll be honest, Harris is not someone I'd like to hang out with. While I enjoyed his journey from bro-ish asshole to a more self-aware being, I couldn't really relate on a personal level. Honestly, even a redeemed Harris seems like a bit of an asshole to me.

    I also wasn't too interested in the extensive personal narrative. While I appreciate it was important to illustrate his journey, I believe it could have been edited more thoroughly. As a non-USA reader, I had never heard of the guy, and don't really care about the internal politics of USA news networks.

    Moreover, Harris' writing is serviceable, but his forays into poetic description most often fall flat. Take this one, for example:

    His asides often devolve to a Barney Stinson meets College Bro level of sophistication

    While other paragraphs head almost into (the much maligned) Eckhart Tolle territory -- behold:

    Observations

    Harris is very much an extrovert. Throughout the book I found myself thinking that although I have never really meditated, I have already mastered some of the techniques he mentions. I think it comes down to the fact that I am an introvert and am very comfortable within my own mind -- I know how to observe my thoughts and emotions and 'lean in' to them, responding rather than reacting. I get the sense that for an extrovert, the inner mind can be a scary and alien landscape, and that a large part of Harris' journey is simply getting to know his inner mind.

    Verdict

    Overall, this book was a useful start for my foray into meditation, though I'll need to do a lot more reading, I think. This is the book for the everyman, and I'd like to gain a more academic insight.

    While the tone was a bit too alpha-male and bro-ish for me, I appreciated the practical look at meditation.

    Bonus points for a relatively obscure Simpsons reference.

    3/5

  • Will Byrnes

    Dan Harris is a bit of a jerk. You don’t have to take my word for it. He says it himself, more than once, in his book. A lot of

    is about Harris trying to be less of a jerk.

    Among his other journalistic accomplishments, which include more than a few in-country assignments in hot-fire war zones, hosting gigs on Good Morning America and Nightline, and scoring interviews with some very scary people, Harris is known for a live on-camera meltdown that was seen only by close family members,

    Dan Harris is a bit of a jerk. You don’t have to take my word for it. He says it himself, more than once, in his book. A lot of

    is about Harris trying to be less of a jerk.

    Among his other journalistic accomplishments, which include more than a few in-country assignments in hot-fire war zones, hosting gigs on Good Morning America and Nightline, and scoring interviews with some very scary people, Harris is known for a live on-camera meltdown that was seen only by close family members, co-workers and oh, maybe 5 million viewers. I have added a link at the bottom.

    This is a road trip of self-discovery tale, and the path Harris takes is extremely interesting. Of course the self he discovers is still a self-centered jerk, but a jerk who can really, really tell a story, fill it with fascinating, meaningful information, add in considerable dollops of LOL humor, much at his own expense, and emerge with what, for himself and many others, is a life-changing way of going about his life.

    - photo from ABC news

    One of the nifty things about the book is that Harris is a seasoned media pro and can deliver a snappy line with the best of them

    Of course this presumes that everyone who is looking up is seeking something celestial and not doing so merely to fit in with the pack, or being distracted by a passing drone. Still, my cynicism notwithstanding, the man has a way with words. And that makes this a very easy book to read. He is a charming guide on this search for a better way and you will meet some familiar names and learn of some others who should be.

    Harris offers small bits on Peter Jennings and Diane Sawyer, among other ABC news folks. No surprises are to be had there. Jennings assigned the young Harris to the religion beat, over his (silent) objections, just in time for the post 9/11 world to give a damn about religion as news fodder. Harris covered a range of stories while on this gig, and met many interesting people, but was very impressed with Ted Haggard, who, off-camera, comes across as a pretty reasonable sort, which was surprising. Of course Haggard, who publicly preached against same-sex relationships, was practicing the fine art of total hypocrisy, as he was enjoying the company of a paid male escort. But he comes across as having much more substance than his gawker-headline downfall would lead one to suspect. Harris meets with a few more folks in the self-help biz, whether of the religious, secular, or woo-woo sorts. The up-close and personal here is riveting.

    But the business at hand is not just about getting a fix on people like Deepak Chopra, it is about Harris trying to find his way past his personal limitations. He does a bit of a pinball route, bouncing among several of today’s self-help gurus in search of a way to quiet the inner anchorman who offers running commentary during every waking moment. The first step, of course was to realize that the ego was on camera all the time, offering a live feed, an internal, personal, and less than wonderful 24/7 personal news channel. One of the first people whose work he found illuminating was a weird but compelling German, Eckhart Tolle, who offered a take on how to live in the now.

    He finds elements of Deepak Chopra illuminating as well, but with reservations.

    What he arrives at is meditation. In particular a state called “mindfulness”, in which one observes the thoughts and feelings that are occurring, but at a remove, so that one can respond without relying on immediate, visceral and ego-driven reactions. There are different forms of meditation, but he finds one that does the trick for him. And puts it into practice. How he goes about this is sometimes LOL funny, particularly when we are privy to the snarky ramblings of his ego while he is attempting to not lose his mind during a lengthy meditation retreat.

    At end he learns a very useful skill, and even offers a very accessible step-by-step set of directions for having a go yourself. No beads, sandals, incense or robes required, really. Corporations and even the Marines are promoting meditation among their people. Turns out there are real-world benefits. It is probably worth at least a try.

    There is an old saw that goes “Sincerity, if you can fake that you’ve got it made.” I do not think that Harris is faking anything here. He is definitely into meditation, and tells lot about the very real benefits to be had. Of course, as a self-centered jerk, it is the self-benefits that get the air-time in his book. There is another realm, which involves compassion. While Harris does talk about this, it is pretty clear that meditation is a way for Dan Harris to do better in the world for Dan Harris. And while there are collateral benefits for those around him as a result of his evolution, the whole compassion thing remains for Harris a means to an end.

    In

    , a term he came up with to explain the benefits of his mindfulness practice and stop people from looking at him as if he were an alien, Harris offers a revealing portrait of himself as far, far less than perfect (his meltdown, for example, was made possible in large measure by considerable intake of cocaine and ecstasy), tells a tale of personal seeking and growth, and shares with us the very concrete techniques he has gleaned. So, while self-interest remains the beneficiary of his new knowledge, and while Dan Harris remains, IMHO, a jerk, he is a curious, articulate, and entertaining jerk who has shared some useful experiences and knowledge with the rest of us. Nothing jerky about that.

    Review posted 11/21/14

    =============================

    Links to the author’s

    and

    pages

    Dan Harris’s vid on how to

    Harris's

    about the book on ABC

    Harris is interviewed on

    Somehow it seems wrong that people are using meditation as a networking tool. Check out this 11/21/14 NY Times piece,

    , by Laura M. Holson.

    Check out this interesting short item from the NY Times Wellness section -

    By Gretchen Reynolds - 2/18/16

  • Heidi The Hippie Reader

    Dan Harris had problems, like all of us, but unlike all of us, he was beginning to experience some of the messier symptoms of his dysfunctional inner world in front of millions of people.

    He sought help and jumped into the meditation world with both feet. I think its why most people find their way into spiritual practices- something isn't working quite right in their life and they need to change from the inside out. So, they look for a process of inner change and run smack into meditation.

    However

    Dan Harris had problems, like all of us, but unlike all of us, he was beginning to experience some of the messier symptoms of his dysfunctional inner world in front of millions of people.

    He sought help and jumped into the meditation world with both feet. I think its why most people find their way into spiritual practices- something isn't working quite right in their life and they need to change from the inside out. So, they look for a process of inner change and run smack into meditation.

    However, Dan isn't drinking the kool-aid of the new age movement. He questions every practice for its practical benefits and searches for scientific experimentation to back up those benefits.

    In essence, he brings the investigative skills that he applies to his job as a news anchor to the practice of meditation and it's a delight to read.

    I loved this. Dan had the same initial reaction to Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra that I did. One of them seems too mellow to be real and the other seems to market himself too well to be that spiritual.

    Over time, I've come to love both of those authors/gurus for their wisdom, but they are both just out of this world. Harris isn't afraid to point that out.

    In conclusion, I'd recommend

    to anyone who wants to become 10% happier- isn't that all of us?

    Also, anyone who has read Eckhart Tolle or Deepak Chopra may also enjoy this, if only for the surprisingly accurate descriptions of their foibles. Anyone who wants to try meditation but feels like they don't have time, couldn't do it if they tried, or doesn't know where to start may find some inspiration from this book.

    And, finally, anyone who is fed up with the hippie-dippie-trippie feeling that most spiritual memoirs give them, will find a kindred soul in Dan Harris.

  • Veronica Belmont

    I am a self-help cynic. I've never read any self-help, but I knew I needed to get a handle on my stress, anxiety and anger. When I read the description of this book (I listened to the audio version) I said, "OK, newsman, tell me how to be happier."

    Dan Harris is an anchor for ABC, and in this story (which reads more like a memoir than a self-help guide) he details his own struggles early in his career. I related to many of these difficulties (particularly the fear of freezing up while live on the

    I am a self-help cynic. I've never read any self-help, but I knew I needed to get a handle on my stress, anxiety and anger. When I read the description of this book (I listened to the audio version) I said, "OK, newsman, tell me how to be happier."

    Dan Harris is an anchor for ABC, and in this story (which reads more like a memoir than a self-help guide) he details his own struggles early in his career. I related to many of these difficulties (particularly the fear of freezing up while live on the air) and so I immediately felt a kinship. However, I don't think you need to work in media to get where Dan is coming from; anyone in a high-stress situation, be it work or personal life, can find connections.

    For me, this book really opened my eyes to ways that I can relieve stress while still maintaining my "edge" in the workplace. My two biggest takeaways from this book are "Enlightened self-interest" and "Respond, not react." I kind of want to make posters of these for my office.

    Dan is personable and funny, but he looks at the world of self-help and meditation with the eyes of an investigative reporter, which I greatly appreciated. If you want to start your own journey of becoming at least 10% happier... well, this is a good place to start.

  • Justin

    Well, I watched that ol’ Minimalists documentary on Netflix, and there’s ol’ Dan Harris talking about having a panic attack on live TV. He mentions this book he wrote about being 10 percent happier, and I thought “Hell, I’d love to be 10 percent happier. Please, Dan, by all means, enlighten me.” See what I did there? Maybe not.

    Anyway, Danny Boy starts his book sharing insights from his career, jobs he’s held, and stories he’s covered. In fact, some of the most interesting stuff found within the

    Well, I watched that ol’ Minimalists documentary on Netflix, and there’s ol’ Dan Harris talking about having a panic attack on live TV. He mentions this book he wrote about being 10 percent happier, and I thought “Hell, I’d love to be 10 percent happier. Please, Dan, by all means, enlighten me.” See what I did there? Maybe not.

    Anyway, Danny Boy starts his book sharing insights from his career, jobs he’s held, and stories he’s covered. In fact, some of the most interesting stuff found within these pages is Harris pulling back the curtain on what it’s like being on TV and reporting the news. He jumps pretty quickly into how his panic attack came about and the rough roads he went down to try and put himself back together.

    It was nice to follow along with him on the journey toward meditation. Harris talks about some of the new age thinkers and writers he comes into contact with, people I’ve heard of, but this crash course was really helpful. I also loved his sense of humor throughout the whole thing as well as his skepticism. He approaches new ideas and techniques, but hits the brakes when he feels people are crazy or take things too far.

    What I took away from this was that meditation really helped the guy out, and he didn’t buy into everything fully and go off the deep end into a new religion. He just talked to a lot of different people and tried some very interesting, weird stuff to lead him to a place where he’s happier. He’s nicer to be around. He lives in the moment and doesn’t stress about what’s happening next. He takes care of his mind and his body. He’s landed in a good spot.

    I appreciate Harris not ending the book with some sort of three-step process for how to be happy. A lot of times these books can turn into some new system to try to rake in more cash, but this is more like reading his blog. There’s more than just meditation stuff here. The behind the scenes look at the news and some of his experiences were pretty fascinating. His quick synopsis of these new age thinkers is helpful as an introduction to other ways of thinking or seeing the world. All in all, this was not necessarily helpful, but it was a good story to read, and exposed me to new ideas and philosophies out there.

    That’s 10 percent of my thoughts on this book. See ya.


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