What is 10% Happier About?
10% Happier is the deep – warts and all – personal story into the mind of ABC news anchor Dan Harris. The reader is taken on a whirlwind tour into his innermost secrets and problems. From drug addictions to panic attacks and selfish desires to insecurities there is no part of Harris left unturned in 10% Happier.
I found Harris to be one of those rare and special writers who not only have a great turn of phrase but are able to transcribe thoughts and feelings that I too have felt but was unable to ever articulate. By laying out his soul to the reader he shows that we are not alone in our awkward feelings and at times malevolent thoughts.
But aside from having the unique ability to connect with a reader’s innermost self what makes this book particularly useful? I believe its the way Harris does not simply stop at just at relating to the reader’s problems, he goes one step further by inviting us to join him on his mission in trying to find answers to these problems that we all face. How do I reduce stress? How do I self-improve and how can I be a better person whilst still being a successful one too?
This is not a Deepak Chopra style self-help book, this is one man’s genuine pursuit on how to improve his life in a meaningful and practical way. So in a certain manner this is our story too, for this is a pursuit that we all at some point – in one way or another- undertake. Harris doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, he doesn’t pretend that you will live your life happily ever after or that this book will fix all your problems. There’s no grandiose hippie lingo, no false promises and no attempt to try and sell you into a product. Just a simple analyses of how he improved his life with sound advice on how we might be able to do the same.
So what conclusions did he reach? Ultimately in his quest to find answers he eventually stumbles upon mindfulness and meditation. Now, to all you cynics out there who just all of a sudden lost interest at the mention of meditation- fear not. For I was the same, and more importantly so was Harris. This is not a book by a monk or an out of touch hippie, this is written by a skeptical agnostic. He takes the reader into his mind as at first he thinks the whole meditation game is loony, how he reluctantly is dragged through a meditation retreat and is initially convinced that it’s all a bunch of bullshit. But through his honest writing and genuine self improvement we are taken along the journey into also disregarding our uneducated misconceptions and realizing that meditation is not hogwash but rather steeped in credible science with real life positive effects.
Through reading 10% Happier I have become inspired to begin meditating too knowing full well that it is not some promised self-help mechanism to all of a sudden make my life perfectly happy but rather a tool to help myself become just that little bit happier (perhaps by 10%?) by as Harris puts it “taming the voice in my head, reducing stress without losing my edge and finding self-help that actually works.”
A short, entertaining, eloquent read that is guaranteed to make you think and has the potential to be a catalyst towards making changes in your life. Worth the read? You bet.