10% Happier by Dan Harris is part memoir part practical guide to mindfulness and meditation. Dan, a TV news anchor, talks about his on air meltdown and drug abuse and how meditation helped him. It is a great primer for understanding mindfulness and meditation and how to use them in your daily life.
What I learned from this book:
- We all have a voice in our head. Some of us don’t even realise it.
- This voice is fixated on the past and the future. If we give in to it, it prevents us from living in the present moment.
- We can all learn a skill that helps us to quiet this voice – meditation.
- You can meditate anywhere. Anyone can do it. It is free.
- With practice, we can better at it.
- Meditation practice creates a space or gap in the voice which allows us to see our negative emotional response to situations, like annoyance, fear and anger, and allows us to choose how we respond to them, instead of simply reacting.
- Science shows us that meditation actually rewires the brain.
- The Buddhists analogy: “Picture the mind like a waterfall, they said: the water is the torrent of thoughts and emotions; mindfulness is the space behind the waterfall”.
- Continuous stress is living each moment as if it is never quite good enough, that it will be better in the next one (some later moment in time). To be somewhere else, to have something else, to be someone else, to never have enough, to never be good enough. This all creates stress and worry and prevents us from being happy.
- Meditation won’t solve all your problems, but it will help you handle them better, which will lead to less stress.
- Happiness is a skill.
- Practice non-attachment, if you are not attached to results or outcomes you won’t fall apart when things don’t turn out.
- Practice self-compassion to improve resilience.
- Everyone’s mind is out of control. You can never entirely ‘clear your mind’.
- You can’t control what comes up, only how you respond to it.
- We can all be 10% happier with a little effort.
I enjoyed reading about Dan’s journey and his discoveries when speaking to the self-help “gurus”. If you are skeptical in nature, like I am, then he will resonate with you.
Buy the book here: