10% Happier

I began reading this book without knowing it would delve into the topic of meditation (spoiler alert). I was actually searching for inspirational reads about navigating life transitions when Amazon or Google’s algorithm suggested this book to me. Some might even interpret this recommendation as the universe “manifesting” what I needed, but that’s a topic for another book review.

Dan Harris tells his story with great clarity and allure. For those unfamiliar, Harris is a news anchor for the ABC TV network in the United States. While I hadn’t been exposed to his work before, as a reader, you’ll be taken through a concise and quite captivating retelling of his remarkable career.

Following his assignment in post-9/11 Iraq, he returned home and turned to what he euphemistically termed as ‘self-medication’ (which, in reality, refers to his cocaine use) as a way to cope with undiagnosed PTSD from covering the war. This all reached a critical point one morning when he experienced a panic attack live on national television.

This pivotal moment prompted him to reevaluate his life, career, and overall situation. He realized he needed to change to become a better version of himself. As a reporter, Harris had access to popular self-help gurus of the time, such as Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra. However, dissatisfaction with their answers led him to discover a 2,500-year-old practice that still holds relevance today: meditation.

The book takes you on a journey alongside Harris as he searches for answers on how to live life mindfully and combat the voices in our heads. He gradually comes to the understand that meditation is the solution, allowing him to be more aware of his life and surroundings.

Harris’s writing is aimed at the everyday person interested in meditation but wary of the metaphysical mysticism or pseudo-scientific language often associated with it. He frequently voices the skepticism that many of us may have, asking the very same questions we’re thinking to the characters in his stories. He also addresses whether concepts like compassion and detachment, central to his meditation practice, are applicable in today’s competitive workplace by relating them to his experiences in his workplace.

While not a meditation manual (there is only a brief section at the end providing simple instructions), the book is highly entertaining and can help ease resistance to meditation for those hesitant to try it. For those already practicing meditation (like myself), it serves as a reminder of why we started and often brings us back to the early days when all we could think about during meditation was, ‘how long is this going to last?

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