Nightline anchor Dan Harris embarks on an unexpected, hilarious, and deeply skeptical odyssey through the strange worlds of spirituality and self-help, and discovers a way to get happier that is truly achievable.
After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, 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 both propelled him through the ranks of a hyper-competitive business and also led him to make the profoundly stupid decisions that provoked his on-air freak-out.
We all have a voice in our head. It's what has us losing our temper unnecessarily, checking our email compulsively, eating when we're not hungry, and fixating on the past and the future at the expense of the present. Most of us would assume we're stuck with this voice that there's nothing we can do to rein it in but Harris stumbled upon an effective way to do just that. It's a far cry from the miracle cures peddled by the self-help swamis he met; instead, it's something he always assumed to be either impossible or useless: meditation. 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 increased calm, focus, and happiness.
10% Happier takes listeners 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.
©2014 Daniel Benjamin Harris (P)2014 HarperCollinsPublishers
Initially, I felt put off by this book's "self-help" label because it seems most books in that genre simply repackage stuff your mom told you for free. What changed my mind were reviews on Goodreads and audible.com where readers tend to be a tough crowd and a book generally has to be very, very good to rate a 4 or 5-star rating. So, I figured why not, and picked up the audio version. As I began listening, I found the author (who also narrates the story) to be funny in a self-deprecating way and disarmingly honest -- I also realized this isn't really a self-help book.
The author describes what contributed to his on-air panic attack on "Good Morning America" and the details of his subsequent journey of self-discovery. He describes interviewing self-help authors like Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and others... and rather than revering them as gurus, is skeptical about the uniqueness of their insights and approach. He decides the "voice in my head is an a--hole" and seeks actionable ways to cultivate a more effective coping mechanism. He ultimately tries meditation and finds it to be a useful way to cope with stress and cultivate compassion. This book has something for everyone:
- For folks who meditate, this story is a nice reminder of the benefits of meditation.
- For those not into meditation, it feels like listening an old friend tell his story of moving beyond a life altering event by "upping his game and becoming a leading man."
This is one of those books that would be good read on a Kindle or paperback, but is an absolutely great audiobook. Highly recommended.
I love exploring..... Pilgrim, blogger, writer
This books ranks at the top of my list of self-help memoirs.
I bought this audiobook by mistake. I thought I was buying a book by Sam Harris, who has had a way of shaking my reality just enough to make some small but important changes. As I embarked on listening to my new purchase, I was most disappointed when Sam Harris', by now familiar voice, all or a sudden sounded like television reporter. At first I thought there was something wrong with the recording. Then I realized that I was listening to a Dan Harris not Sam Harris. Reluctantly I surrendered to my mistake and decided to give this Dan a chance. After my initial disappointment, I began to appreciate this unexpected author. Dan Harris, whom, I, as non-television watcher, had never heard of before, was taking me on an interesting journey of the inner life of a successful, striding for ever more success, ABC News reporter in New York. At first he struck me as an arrogant, extremely driven and cut-throat person. Yet at the same time he was intriguingly honest and surprisingly self-aware, a very unusual combination, I thought. He tells his stories of being at the forefront of many history making events all over the world, with the professionalism of a great reporter. With that same hard-edged, no-nonsense attitude, he goes about discovering the world of self-inquiry and comes across mindfulness and meditation. He interviews Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Joe Vitale, among others, with all of whom he is heart-wrenchingly but also refreshingly critical. The most critical though he is with himself. As he leads us, with an accuracy and bluntness that is admirable, through his own pitfalls and discoveries in his attempts to master meditation, he manages to shed a fresh light on this path, a light that is both entertaining and highly informative. He is able to describe his own difficulties and slowly but surely finds the gold nuggets of mediation with the drive and intuitiveness of a no-bullshit reporter. Listening to how mercilessly he "destroys" anybody he considers vague or spiritually fluffy, I cringe at the thought of how he would treat me, a seasoned meditator at the fringe of society. By the end of the book though, I have to admit to myself, that I had been as critical with television news reporters, and people in the cut-throat professional world, as he had been with the people in the spiritual world. It was time for me to shed this, up to this point unnoticed, arrogance of mine. This was an insight that immediately made me at least 10% happier!
I believe that with this book Dan Harris succeeds to not only build an important bridge between two worlds that have seemed far apart and somewhat incompatible, the professional world and spiritual world, but he also brings a unprecedented freshness and clarity to the latter. Nobody, in my 30 years of studying mindfulness, has been able to bring as bright a light to the conundrum of meditation versus ambition, as Dan has in this book.
The scene where he describes his first ten-day meditation retreat is hilarious, heart-wrenchingly honest and brilliantly informative.
Learning to care and not to care. T.S. Elliot
The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
I've been around the block with the self-help books. From Chopra to countless others and wish this book was around years ago. It's basically a long news segment on an industry that can prey on people in their most vulnerable state of mind.
Harris gives fair assessment to the big names of the industry that he interviews and makes the reader think that he's finally found something that works, then he slams it by cutting through the BS. He's highly skeptical and doesn't get fooled easily, which I like. Out of the many books I've gotten here on Audible, this is one of the few that I can say was actually beneficial. I'm not saying I won't venture back into the realm of self-help topics, but I'll be more cautious and analytical next time.
I highly recommend as a pre-read before trying the works of Chopra or Tolle.
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I loved that it got a cynic like me to actually try meditation and get past my previous belief that there was no way I could ever do it. I really recommend this for anyone who thinks they wouldn't be able to 'clear' their mind or thoughts enough - that is what I thought and it turns out what the author started off thinking too. This book took me on a journey - one that I ultimately enjoyed. I felt like it was taking a while to get to the punchline but I'm glad I stuck it out - because this is the first book to explain mindfulness to me in a way I could understand.
I liked Dan Harris's refreshing honesty about himself and his own ego and mistakes. It made for some funny and also very touching moments, but it also gave me inspiration to be as honest with myself.
It's great to hear the author of a memoir telling their own story, and his professional experience obviously helps make his performance as good as it is.
Dan uses some great analogies throughout the book that sat really well with me - my favourite was of your thoughts being like water going over a waterfall and that the trick is not just to flow over with them but to try and sit behind the water and watch it. That really clicked for me for some reason.
Some people have said this isn't a self-help book but it has really helped me - even tho my meditation practice is slow going, I've just become more mindful of my thoughts and reactions since reading it. I think it will sit well with you if you are interested in meditation as a concept but not keen on the airy fairy incense burning reputation - I like that Dan investigates how to be calmer while not losing your ambition and competitive edge.
Good story and insightful at times. Top 10 more for the actual enjoyment of the story rather than any major insights.
Respond not react, try not to get attached to the outcome, meditate, compassion and empathy.
The book got me through a trip to Orlando and back without falling asleep so it must be pretty good. Overall, the question posed by the writer is a good one. How does one balance the quest for Western world achievement and success with an "enlightened approach to life". I personally am not really sure if the two are compatible in their purest forms but certainly I can see how the enlighted approach can make the road to "Western Success" a smoother and more enjoyable ride. I have seen success come in both forms (a--hole vs empathetic approach) with the enlightened and empathetic being clearly the more enjoyable and less taxing on the mind and spirit. This book has some good insight on how take the "success" road utilizing the enlighten approach.
A great story about one man's path to expanding his horizons and changing his perspective on himself and on the world.
I found Dan Harris' perspective to the touchy-feely lifestyle refreshing. I enjoyed his observations and awareness of how the "groovy movement" has very poor PR and his self awareness of the fact that he is quick to judge. My own experiences in the world have been very different from his but, as someone who has spent her life straddling the "real" world and the world of the holistic movement I felt I could relate to what he was saying. I would recommend it to anyone. In fact I HAVE recommended it to several people already.
Dan Harris is beautifully skeptical about Buddhism and appropriately wary of self-help "gurus" who are really just narcissists in search of glory. He comes to mindfulness with a thoroughly Western sensibility that makes this book relatable.
He didn't fall for Deepak Chopra and his ilk. It was really refreshing to hear someone question the flowery, obfuscating language that is used by spiritual writers.
As much as I love Dan Harris and want to give the audiobook 5 stars across the board, his narration was that of a news anchor. It was hard to follow the story when it sounded like the evening news.
Maybe a few years from now, its an easy listen but there are so many books to get through.
Jack Kornfield had a book titles something along the lines of "Buddhist psychology". That book is also quite good but is actually a series of lectures recorded at his retreat. His voice can be off putting and he looks nothing like how he sounds.
I particularly liked the section on his experience at the 10 day Buddhist retreat. Ive actually signed myself on to one here in Sydney after listening to this book.
Good book, easy listen.
I found this book to be well written, funny, smart and insightful. It definitely made me want to try meditation and practice compassion. I might even stay up to watch Nightline, I found Dan Harris to be a very likeable, and bravely honest guy.
I've always enjoyed Dan Harris and his team on weekend GMA. So I was very surprised when I first heard him plug his book. I am thrifty with my Audible credits and do not make impulsive purchases with them - but I did in this case and was not disappointed. Such a terrific story and the perfect narrator along with it. Coincidentally I just finished Steve Stossl's "My Age of Anxiety". Harris's book is a great addition to the extensive research Stossl related on the history of anxiety theory and the various approaches to treating it - minus this one. I'm excited to learn more.
"A great story. Funny, profound and compelling."
This audiobook now takes over as my favourite of all time. I don't normally get round to writing reviews but I did it for Danny Baker's "Going to Sea in a Sieve", because it was so good, and this one is even better. It is just as entertaining but you learn something too.
As you would expect, an audiobook by this author is very well read. He does that kind of thing for a living. Hearing this story in the author's own voice adds so much to the experience.
I loved the description of the ten day meditation retreat. He really nails how the garlic muesli, robes and sandals hippy-dippy stuff can be a turn off, but he's also open minded enough to see it through to the end.
Dan is very honest about his journey, which really makes for a better story. Whilst the book is very, very funny, and on a regular basis, the humour doesn't undermine the message, and you are right there with him as he takes risks with his career and his relationships. It's a serious book but hugely entertaining.
If you have thought about mindfulness meditation but were put off by all of the trappings and the 1960's associations, this is definitely for you. It might be the book that finally convinces you to give meditation a try.
No hesitation, no doubt - a five star audiobook.
"Good lessons wrapped in an autobiography"
I listened to this book as it was suggested by Ed Dale in his books of 2014 . I had enjoyed some of his other choices so gave it a go . At first I was fustrated in the early chapters as I thought I was getting a book on mindfulness and it appeared to be just and biography of a large ego News Man . This makes sense as the story unfolds so bare with it ... You need to know the man for the book to do its thing . Worth a listen , and yes this book could make you 10% happier
"Mindfulness against a backdrop of a world gone mad"
What an enjoyable book. I am enjoying work written and read by people who work in performing media. I found the style humorous and engaging, as you'd hope from a professional story teller. I didn't know Dan Harris by his work, but it was easy to get the gist his career in the US TV news machine. Able to tell a tale against himself, it's honest enough to provide insight into Dan's psychological troubles but the wider picture stops it becoming too Woody Allen. You have the large world events and the micro-politics of the media. Dan's work reporting on the religious right and the peculiarities of Deepak Chopra is fascinating and funny.
He asks a lot of the questions that came up for me, in trying to practice mindfulness in a secular way, purely for psychological health, when the science showing the effectiveness became overwhelmingly positive. I think he's the first non-Buddhist white western guy that I've come across who's written an account of having a crack at mindfulness for his mental health. Unlike us regular joes, it's pretty amazing that when he had a question, he was able to use his reporter status to go and question Tolle or Goldstein. That makes for a pretty unique book to.
It's interesting to see what happens when one skeptical guy tries mindfulness for 4 years. It's a humorous, informative and heart-warming journey.
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