Book Club, Final Discussion: 10% Happier by Dan Harris

Join in the final discussion of our March Book Club pick, 10% Happier by Dan Harris…

“Everyone wants the same thing — happiness — but we all go about it with varying levels of skill.”

10%. That was the number that drew me into this book. It felt doable, a percentage with enough weight behind it to warrant investigation, but not too much as to inspire doubt. As I’m sure it’s the case with many of you, I’ve been interested in meditation for awhile now, but always felt too intimidated to dip my toes in. My racing mind and forward motion always a cause for excuses, a cause to throw in the towel. But the desire in my heart and mind for clarity, quiet and concentration (pardon the alliteration) too strong to let go of the interest. And so, four weeks ago, I found myself clicking ‘submit order’ on Amazon for a book about meditation, written by a newscaster.

Would it inspire me to meditate?

Would I be able to meditate?

I had my doubts, but almost as soon as I cracked the cover open, I was pulled in by Harris’s story. It didn’t hurt that similar questions were being asked by Harris as were asked by January’s author, Elizabeth Gilbert. Is suffering an innate aspect of creativity? Do we need to be miserable in order to be successful? Can we be ambitious and nice? Of course I had my own questions, too…namely, how do I make myself 10% Happier? Tell me now.

I’ll admit to you that the self-help genre is one I typically steer away from. I enjoy reading about the journeys of others, but so often it feels SH is riddled with pious accounts of the authors living above the fray. Above the pain and realities of the world, above the troubles of their readers. Not so with 10%, here the reader is right there with Harris, given a first-hand account of his journey, one that is often flawed and frustrating and, as admitted by the author, one that is still taking shape. Meditation, I’ve learned — through this book and through shaking, wobbling personal practice — takes time. To sound like a real jerk, “it’s a journey, not a destination” (sorry). Sitting in my darkened living room at 5:45am, with thoughts slamming around my head as I try to focus, it’s tempting to throw in the towel. But this too takes practice, and the payoff comes at the most unexpected of times. When I’m driving to work and realize I’ve somehow gone down the rabbit hole of a negative memory and have begun chastising myself before 9am (for things I did fifteen years ago), I remember to breathe. To inhale, and exhale, and clear my brain of the clouds of negative thinking that threaten to bear down before the day has even begun. This has been the payoff of just a few weeks of reading, and so I’m excited to utilize the tips offered at the end of Harris’s book to further my own quest for enlightenment… or something like it.

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Comments

  1. Hello, I enjoyed reading Dan Harris journey also as it felt real and his takes on people felt sincere. I have tried off and on meditation for years but do want to get into a regular practice. When you mention driving in your car and stopping negative thoughts when they occur with your breath – that has been something I have been doing for a few years now and works. I seem to be able to catch up downward spiral earlier and reverse course. Maybe that along has increased my happiness by close to 10%. Enjoyed the book and your comments thank you.

  2. I read this book last year and loved it so much I Tweeted Dan Harris right away (I am not a person who Tweets), and I was thrilled when he Tweeted back (it is such a nice medium for sending fan “mail”)! Since reading Harris’s book I’ve signed up for HeadSpace.com (they charge a worthwhile fee for guided meditation for people like me who have a wandering mind), and I’m s-l-o-w-l-y improving my practice. It was Harris’s words that encouraged the reader to start where they are (even if it means starting again and again) that helped me go forward. THANK YOU for sharing “10% Happier” in your Book Review section. I have gotten some of my favorite recommendations from YOU!

  3. Nicole – So wonderful to hear you loved the book as much as I did — and awesome that he tweeted back! I can’t wait to check out HeadSpace, I’ve heard of it but haven’t looked into it yet. Guess it’s time!

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