Book Review: 10% Happier by Dan Harris

This week, we have the privilege of a guest post from author, writer, editor, blogger Jeri Walker-Bickett, whom I met via the Bloggers Helping Bloggers group on LinkedIn. Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB) writes short stories, creative nonfiction, and psychological suspense. The rough Idaho mining town she grew up in populates her literary landscape. She also works as a freelance editor. You can also connect with Jeri on Amazon Author Central.

JeriWB

Here is Jeri’s review of 10% Happier by Dan Harris

Many of us (especially writers) spend way too much thinking and worrying about everything—especially what will make us happy. I recently listened to the audiobook version of 10% Happier by NBC news anchor Dan Harris. Immediately after finishing it, I listened to the audiobook again. The subtitle says it all: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story. It’s not a step-by-step self-help book. Rather, the author uses his personal story to show the positive steps toward mindfulness.

 

The issues that led to Dan Harris taking up mediation are far from uncommon. He points out how his life was centered on “advancement and adventure.” With Peter Jennings as his “mentor and tormentor,” Harris became a war correspondent and eventually covered the religious beat for NBC. Though not particularly religious, both maintain an insatiable curiosity for the inner-workings that make humankind tick. Harris maintains his agnosticism, but expresses admiration upon realizing religious people actively make time to contemplate their place in the world once a week.

 

The author’s hyper-focus on his career led to working all the time. He suffered from depression which manifested as flu-like symptoms, and he also turned to self-medicating though cocaine use. Two on-air anxiety attacks became his wake-up call. He realized something had to give. He started by seeing a psychiatrist, and then set out to find ways to better control his ego and the voice in his head which he likens to being a jerk. Just think about how often you’re hard on yourself because of doubts related to your writing or blogging efforts when that energy could be invested in better pursuits.

 

Along the way, Dan Harris meets a variety of spiritual leaders from Ted Haggart, Eckart Toli, Depak Chopra, Sharon Salzburg, Mark Epstein, and Joseph Goldstein. Throughout he was working on a series of Happiness, Inc. television segments. Each encounter shows how he moves toward not denying himself a spiritual existence while learning how to quiet the anxiety of his monkey-mind. At first, he thinks acquiring a calmer presence will make him lose his edge. In truth, multi-tasking takes away from the present situation.

 

Meditation tends to get a bad rap as something done by hippies and cult members. Harris points out how our pursuit of happiness often becomes the source of our unhappiness. He likens meditation to exercise for the mind and something one can get better at with continued practice. It brings a person greater focus and helps them live in the moment rather than dwelling in the past and present. The shift from aversion to compassion will also take place. Worrying is legit if it serves a purpose, but incessant worry does not serve a purpose.

Without a doubt, this book spoke to me on many levels. It’s rare that a book truly makes me want to take action, but 10% Happier accomplished just that. I’m ready to make a more conscious effort at living and writing in the present.

 

What steps have you taken to be happier and more productive?

Thanks to Jeri for this insightful post. Let’s talk about the pursuit of happiness and productivity.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

11 Responses

  1. A.K.Andrew says:

    Meditation is a great way to relax, and calm your mind. I think we’ve come way beyond it being, as you say just for hippies et al.
    The problem is keeping it going on a regular basis. So I’m a big believer in meditation, but an intermittent practitioner. Thanks so much for the reminder.
    A.K.Andrew recently posted…Munir Bello – Do you Remember a Childhood Nightmare?My Profile

    • Hi AK and thanks for getting the discussion going.

      I haven’t had much luck with meditation as I find I’m always so busy and I never have any “quiet time” to myself. Hopefully, one day soon, I will be able to incorporate it into my daily regime.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…planning a virtual book tourMy Profile

    • Jeri says:

      A.K., for some reason I suspected you were probably already into meditation 😉 I’m definitely taking baby steps, but like anything else, it’s something a person has to build to. Five minutes a day can become ten in no time. I really identified with Harris calling the voice in his head a jerk. Silencing the inner-critic can lead to much greater productivity I’m finding.
      Jeri recently posted…#WriteTip: How to Compile an Ebook in Scrivener (PC Version)My Profile

  2. Laura Zera says:

    Yay, Jeri, I’m so glad that this book has inspired you to incorporate mindfulness and meditation into your daily practice of life! I’ve been meditating for a couple of years now and have found it helps immensely, and I’m actually currently reading Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. The more I read about mindfulness, the more I believe we need it to become mainstream, and stat! Here’s a great book that Matt might like, being a techie and all: http://books.google.com/books/about/Search_Inside_Yourself.html?id=E_U3NAEACAAJ
    Laura Zera recently posted…Mental Health: Dual Diagnosis and Effective TreatmentMy Profile

  3. My husband I were wondering if we shouldn’t take a closer look at meditation. Neither of us has tried it, but the idea of being still and centred has tremendous appeal for both of us. I’m going to have to take a closer look.
    Debra Yearwood recently posted…Today we celebrateMy Profile

  4. I’ve always wanted to learn meditation so I want to grab this book.
    Paola Fuentes recently posted…Conquista El Orgas. FemeninoMy Profile

  5. abdelazeezsobh says:

    The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment Book By Eckhart Tolle is one of the best books in years. Each sentence sounds with truth and power.

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