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10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works – A True Story

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After having a nationally televised panic attack, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists. Eventually, Harris realized that the source of his problems was the very thing he always thought was his greatest asset: the incessant, insatiable voice in his head, which had propelled him through the ranks of a hypercompetitive business, but had also led him to make the profoundly stupid decisions that provoked his on-air freak-out.

Eventually Harris stumbled upon an effective way to rein in that voice, something he always assumed to be either impossible or useless: meditation, a tool that research suggests can do everything from lower your blood pressure to essentially rewire your brain. "10% Happier" takes readers on a ride from the outer reaches of neuroscience to the inner sanctum of network news to the bizarre fringes of America's spiritual scene, and leaves them with a takeaway that could actually change their lives.

237 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2014

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About the author

Dan Harris

96 books1,887 followers
Dan Harris is the coanchor of Nightline and the weekend editions of Good Morning America. He regularly reports for 20/20, World News with Diane Sawyer, and the weekday editions of Good Morning America. Before joining ABC News fourteen years ago, he worked for local news outlets in Boston and Maine. He lives with his wife, Bianca, in New York City. 10% Happier is his first book.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,616 reviews
Profile Image for Dan Harris.
Author 96 books1,887 followers
March 3, 2014
A heartbreaking work of staggering genius.
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,310 reviews120k followers
November 17, 2022
Dan Harris is a bit of a jerk. You don’t have to take my word for it. He says it himself, more than once, in his book. A lot of 10% Happier is about Harris trying to be less of a jerk.

Among his other journalistic accomplishments, which include more than a few in-country assignments in hot-fire war zones, hosting gigs on Good Morning America and Nightline, and scoring interviews with some very scary people, Harris is known for a live on-camera meltdown that was seen only by close family members, co-workers and oh, maybe 5 million viewers. I have added a link at the bottom.

This is a road trip of self-discovery tale, and the path Harris takes is extremely interesting. Of course the self he discovers is still a self-centered jerk, but a jerk who can really, really tell a story, fill it with fascinating, meaningful information, add in considerable dollops of LOL humor, much at his own expense, and emerge with what, for himself and many others, is a life-changing way of going about his life.

Dan Harris - photo from 2Paragraphs.com

One of the nifty things about the book is that Harris is a seasoned media pro and can deliver a snappy line with the best of them
I might have disagreed with the conclusion reached by people of faith, but at least that part of their brain was functioning. Every week, they had a set time to consider their place in the universe, to step out of the matrix and achieve some perspective. If you’re never looking up, I now realized, you’re always just looking around.
Of course this presumes that everyone who is looking up is seeking something celestial and not doing so merely to fit in with the pack, or being distracted by a passing drone. Still, my cynicism notwithstanding, the man has a way with words. And that makes this a very easy book to read. He is a charming guide on this search for a better way and you will meet some familiar names and learn of some others who should be.

Harris offers small bits on Peter Jennings and Diane Sawyer, among other ABC news folks. No surprises are to be had there. Jennings assigned the young Harris to the religion beat, over his (silent) objections, just in time for the post 9/11 world to give a damn about religion as news fodder. Harris covered a range of stories while on this gig, and met many interesting people, but was very impressed with Ted Haggard, who, off-camera, comes across as a pretty reasonable sort, which was surprising. Of course Haggard, who publicly preached against same-sex relationships, was practicing the fine art of total hypocrisy, as he was enjoying the company of a paid male escort. But he comes across as having much more substance than his gawker-headline downfall would lead one to suspect. Harris meets with a few more folks in the self-help biz, whether of the religious, secular, or woo-woo sorts. The up-close and personal here is riveting.

But the business at hand is not just about getting a fix on people like Deepak Chopra, it is about Harris trying to find his way past his personal limitations. He does a bit of a pinball route, bouncing among several of today’s self-help gurus in search of a way to quiet the inner anchorman who offers running commentary during every waking moment. The first step, of course was to realize that the ego was on camera all the time, offering a live feed, an internal, personal, and less than wonderful 24/7 personal news channel. One of the first people whose work he found illuminating was a weird but compelling German, Eckhart Tolle, who offered a take on how to live in the now.
It was a little embarrassing to be reading a self-help writer and thinking, This guy gets me. But it was in this moment, lying in bed late at night, that I first realized that the voice in my head—the running commentary that had dominated my field of consciousness since I could remember—was kind of an asshole.
He finds elements of Deepak Chopra illuminating as well, but with reservations.
Chopra was definitely more fun to hang out with than Tolle—I preferred Deepak’s rascally What Makes Sammy Run? style to the German’s otherworldly diffidence—but I left the experience more confused, not less. Eckhart was befuddling because, while I believed he was sincere, I couldn’t tell if he was sane. With Deepak it was the opposite; I believed he was sane, but I couldn’t tell if he was sincere.
What he arrives at is meditation. In particular a state called “mindfulness”, in which one observes the thoughts and feelings that are occurring, but at a remove, so that one can respond without relying on immediate, visceral and ego-driven reactions. There are different forms of meditation, but he finds one that does the trick for him. And puts it into practice. How he goes about this is sometimes LOL funny, particularly when we are privy to the snarky ramblings of his ego while he is attempting to not lose his mind during a lengthy meditation retreat.

At end he learns a very useful skill, and even offers a very accessible step-by-step set of directions for having a go yourself. No beads, sandals, incense or robes required, really. Corporations and even the Marines are promoting meditation among their people. Turns out there are real-world benefits. It is probably worth at least a try.

There is an old saw that goes “Sincerity, if you can fake that you’ve got it made.” I do not think that Harris is faking anything here. He is definitely into meditation, and tells lot about the very real benefits to be had. Of course, as a self-centered jerk, it is the self-benefits that get the air-time in his book. There is another realm, which involves compassion. While Harris does talk about this, it is pretty clear that meditation is a way for Dan Harris to do better in the world for Dan Harris. And while there are collateral benefits for those around him as a result of his evolution, the whole compassion thing remains for Harris a means to an end.

In 10% Happier, a term he came up with to explain the benefits of his mindfulness practice and stop people from looking at him as if he were an alien, Harris offers a revealing portrait of himself as far, far less than perfect (his meltdown, for example, was made possible in large measure by considerable intake of cocaine and ecstasy), tells a tale of personal seeking and growth, and shares with us the very concrete techniques he has gleaned. So, while self-interest remains the beneficiary of his new knowledge, and while Dan Harris remains, IMHO, a jerk, he is a curious, articulate, and entertaining jerk who has shared some useful experiences and knowledge with the rest of us. Nothing jerky about that.

Review first posted 11/21/14

Published - 1/1/2014

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s Twitter and FB pages

Dan Harris’s vid on how to Hack Your Brain's Default Mode with Meditation

Harris's on-air report about the book on ABC

Harris is interviewed on Colbert
Profile Image for Jason Schofield.
41 reviews24 followers
April 11, 2015
I fucking loved this book. It's the most compelling introduction to meditation I've seen, after spending hundreds of dollars buying books on the subject. I have a therapy practice that is mindfulness-based. I often recommend informative-but-boring mindfulness-related books to people that they don't often finish. They'll almost certainly finish this one. It's terrific.
Profile Image for Dan Dinello.
Author 4 books9 followers
April 17, 2014
This bestseller annoyed me over and over. It's more of a memoir than a book about learning to meditate - something I do. But to read this book you must read about the life of this privileged rich white guy who has no social conscious and little interest in the people around him other than what he can exploit for a story. His arrogance is present in the subtitle - he reduced stress and kept his edge. But he never had an edge as far as I could tell. While the encouragement to meditate is positive, he has nothing new to say about the process. He mostly hates it until he has these wonderful break-throughs. I didn't like the author and, since the book focuses every page on the author, I didn't like the book.
Profile Image for Raquel Moss.
20 reviews
September 6, 2016
I've been under a fair bit of stress lately. Nearly a year into self-employment, work has become steadier, sometimes more than steady. Although I love it, I've finally come to understand why people yearn to meditate. With my mind racing with mostly unproductive worries and nags, I've been thinking that I should try mediation to calm the tumult and find 'flow' again.

The problem has been finding a guide to meditation that isn't complete granola claptrap. I loaded Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now onto my Kindle but gave up almost immediately. His meanings were almost completely opaque to me, and I didn't have to fortitude to stick through it. So when Dan Harris popped up on The Colbert Report (where he was a more eloquent guest than most on the show) to promote his book 10% Happier, I figured I'd give it a try.

Writing the above paragraphs, I've come to appreciate Dan Harris' book a little bit more. It's hard to write about mediation without sounding like a complete asshole. Dan gave it a fair shot, and his book was useful, though I never felt entirely compelled by his voice.


Journalist/News Anchor, extrovert, and work-a-holic Dan Harris becomes intrigued by meditation, and seeks to cut through the hippy-dippy bullshit in search of something more practical that he can apply to his daily life. He journeys, he stumbles, but eventually manages to create a mediation practice that fits within, and enhances his life. He says it makes him 'about 10% happier'.

What I liked

This isn't a life-hacking book. I was afraid that I was in for another Tim Ferris wank-fest, but I was pleasantly surprised by Harris' respect for the subject matter. Although Harris doesn't become a Buddhist, he explores Buddhism, and the role of meditation therein with care, and ultimately decides that while the spiritual aspect of Buddhism isn't for him, the mechanics of mediation are useful to him. From what I know of Buddhism as a whole, this is absolutely kosher (though correct me if I'm wrong).

I like that Harris clung to his misgivings about Eckhart Tolle (whom he  finds a bit too whack-a-doodle) and Deepak Chopra (whom he considers to be insincere), and sought meditation practitioners and teachers whose practise is more deeply rooted in 'the real world'. In his words:

"After months of swimming against the riptide of bathos and bullshit peddled by the self-help subculture, it was phenomenally refreshing to see the ego depicted with wry wit."

Amen, brother.

He frequently mentions that meditation has a terrible marketing issue in that its most vocal advocates are a bit too crunchy and/or otherworldly for the mainstream. He suggests several works for further reading which are rooted in science rather than mysticism, for folks who would prefer to read about meditation from that viewpoint.

I also found the chapter on 'hiding the zen' to be useful. Although I'm blogging about it, one's self-help forays aren't always what you'd like discussed in the public sphere. It's nice to be able to slip under the radar as a meditator without showing your 'woo woo-ness' in public.

What I didn't like

I'll be honest, Harris is not someone I'd like to hang out with. While I enjoyed his journey from bro-ish asshole to a more self-aware being, I couldn't really relate on a personal level. Honestly, even a redeemed Harris seems like a bit of an asshole to me.

I also wasn't too interested in the extensive personal narrative. While I appreciate it was important to illustrate his journey, I believe it could have been edited more thoroughly. As a non-USA reader, I had never heard of the guy, and don't really care about the internal politics of USA news networks.

Moreover, Harris' writing is serviceable, but his forays into poetic description most often fall flat. Take this one, for example:

"With the Klonopin on board you could have marched an army of crazed chimps armed with nunchucks and ninja stars into my apartment and I would have remained calm."

His asides often devolve to a Barney Stinson meets College Bro level of sophistication
"The real mindfuck, though, was this: almost as soon as he said something brilliant, he would say something else that was totally ridiculous"

While other paragraphs head almost into (the much maligned) Eckhart Tolle territory -- behold:
"Failure to recognize thoughts for what they are -- quantum bursts of psychic energy that exist solely in your head -- is primordial human error"

Harris is very much an extrovert. Throughout the book I found myself thinking that although I have never really meditated, I have already mastered some of the techniques he mentions. I think it comes down to the fact that I am an introvert and am very comfortable within my own mind -- I know how to observe my thoughts and emotions and 'lean in' to them, responding rather than reacting. I get the sense that for an extrovert, the inner mind can be a scary and alien landscape, and that a large part of Harris' journey is simply getting to know his inner mind.

Overall, this book was a useful start for my foray into meditation, though I'll need to do a lot more reading, I think. This is the book for the everyman, and I'd like to gain a more academic insight.

While the tone was a bit too alpha-male and bro-ish for me, I appreciated the practical look at meditation.

Bonus points for a relatively obscure Simpsons reference.

Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,389 reviews1,469 followers
September 5, 2017
Dan Harris had problems, like all of us, but unlike all of us, he was beginning to experience some of the messier symptoms of his dysfunctional inner world in front of millions of people.

He sought help and jumped into the meditation world with both feet. I think its why most people find their way into spiritual practices- something isn't working quite right in their life and they need to change from the inside out. So, they look for a process of inner change and run smack into meditation.

However, Dan isn't drinking the kool-aid of the new age movement. He questions every practice for its practical benefits and searches for scientific experimentation to back up those benefits.

In essence, he brings the investigative skills that he applies to his job as a news anchor to the practice of meditation and it's a delight to read.

I loved this. Dan had the same initial reaction to Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra that I did. One of them seems too mellow to be real and the other seems to market himself too well to be that spiritual.

Over time, I've come to love both of those authors/gurus for their wisdom, but they are both just out of this world. Harris isn't afraid to point that out.

In conclusion, I'd recommend 10% Happier to anyone who wants to become 10% happier- isn't that all of us?

Also, anyone who has read Eckhart Tolle or Deepak Chopra may also enjoy this, if only for the surprisingly accurate descriptions of their foibles. Anyone who wants to try meditation but feels like they don't have time, couldn't do it if they tried, or doesn't know where to start may find some inspiration from this book.

And, finally, anyone who is fed up with the hippie-dippie-trippie feeling that most spiritual memoirs give them, will find a kindred soul in Dan Harris.
Profile Image for Veronica Belmont.
Author 5 books4,842 followers
June 2, 2015
I am a self-help cynic. I've never read any self-help, but I knew I needed to get a handle on my stress, anxiety and anger. When I read the description of this book (I listened to the audio version) I said, "OK, newsman, tell me how to be happier."

Dan Harris is an anchor for ABC, and in this story (which reads more like a memoir than a self-help guide) he details his own struggles early in his career. I related to many of these difficulties (particularly the fear of freezing up while live on the air) and so I immediately felt a kinship. However, I don't think you need to work in media to get where Dan is coming from; anyone in a high-stress situation, be it work or personal life, can find connections.

For me, this book really opened my eyes to ways that I can relieve stress while still maintaining my "edge" in the workplace. My two biggest takeaways from this book are "Enlightened self-interest" and "Respond, not react." I kind of want to make posters of these for my office.

Dan is personable and funny, but he looks at the world of self-help and meditation with the eyes of an investigative reporter, which I greatly appreciated. If you want to start your own journey of becoming at least 10% happier... well, this is a good place to start.
Profile Image for Diane.
1,081 reviews2,718 followers
May 14, 2015
When a book means a lot to me, I have a more difficult time reviewing it. I finished this memoir a week ago and have been pondering it ever since.

Dan Harris is a reporter and anchorman at ABC News. Back in 2004, he had a panic attack on air while trying to read the morning headlines. He admitted to a therapist he was very stressed about his career, and that he had previously used recreational drugs.

Harris decided he wanted to find some peace of mind, and being a reporter, he researched different ways to get there. Coincidentally, he was assigned to cover religion for the network, and he had the opportunity to interview spiritual leaders from a variety of different faiths. On the advice of a friend, he read Eckhart Tolle's bestselling book, A New Earth, which then led him to Deepak Chopra's books, and then Harris became interested in meditation. He started his own daily meditation practice, and even attended some retreats. In the end, Harris was able to reduce his stress and estimated he had increased his happiness by at least 10 percent (clever title, by the way).

This book worked for me on several levels. I spent 10 years working in news, and I enjoyed it as a memoir of the TV news industry. I understood the stress and anxiety Harris felt in his job, and how it can drain a person. The book also works as a primer to meditation, and Harris includes some good tips to anyone interested in trying to meditate. Additionally, I enjoyed the book as a spiritual journey, and was rooting for Harris to be successful in his quest to find some peace.

This book is well-written, humorous and insightful, and I would highly recommend it.

Favorite Quotes
"It finally hit me that I had been sleepwalking through much of my life — swept along on a tide of automatic, habitual behavior. All of the things I was most ashamed of in recent years could be explained through the ego: chasing the thrill of war without contemplating the consequences, replacing the combat high with coke and ecstasy, reflexively and unfairly judging people of faith, getting carried away with anxiety about work, neglecting Bianca to tryst with my Blackberry, obsessing about my stupid hair. It was a little embarrassing to be reading a self-help writer and thinking, This guy gets me. But it was in this moment, lying in bed late at night, that I first realized that the voice in my head — the running commentary that had dominated my field of consciousness since I could remember — was kind of an asshole."

"Meditation was radically altering my relationship to boredom, something I'd spent my whole life scrambling to avoid ... Now I started to see life's in-between moments — sitting at a red light, waiting for my crew to get set up for an interview — as a chance to focus on my breath, or just take in my surroundings. As soon as I began playing this game, I really noticed how much sleepwalking I did, how powerfully my mind propelled me forward or backward. Mostly, I saw the world through a scrim of skittering thoughts, which created a kind of buffer between me and reality. As one Buddhist author put it, the 'craving to be otherwise, to be elsewhere' permeated my whole life."

"It struck me that the voice in my head is still, in many ways, an asshole. However, mindfulness now does a pretty good job of tying up the voice and putting duct tape over its mouth. I'm still a maniacally hard worker; I make no apologies for that. I still believe firmly that the price of security is insecurity — that a healthy amount of neuroticism is good. But I also know that widening my circle of concern beyond my own crap has made me much happier. Paradoxically, looking inward has made me more outward-facing — and a much nicer colleague, friend, and husband."
Profile Image for Bharath.
643 reviews475 followers
February 11, 2019
This is the story of Dan Harris's self development. His need for thinking over how he was living his life was prompted by a few panic attacks on live television (he works with ABC Broadcasting). As he seeks medical help, he realizes what his habit of drug abuse and competitive lifestyle is doing to him. He next reads Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth" and also meets him for an interview. While interested in what Eckhart Tolle tells him, he regards his views as incomplete with no techniques for being “here and now” which Tolle advocates. He next meets Deepak Chopra and finds him unimpressive as well. He is even more forthright in condemning "The Secret" film as being simplistic, incorrect and of little value. He goes on to dismiss most of the “Self Help” industry as hardly worth even a mention – primarily cooking up incomplete and ineffective theories and dishing them out to a gullible and desperate people.

He next reads the work of Dr Mark Epstein based on advice from his wife on Buddhist practices with focus on meditation which interests him. He meets Mark and over time their families become good friends. He goes on to a retreat which changes his outlook to life. He builds on the gains from the retreat incrementally – all the time reading more and introducing more aspects in his meditation practice. His meeting with the Dalai Lama is one such turning point where the Dalai Lama explains the concept of compassion for others – even on a purely selfish note you need to do good for others since it is very good for you ultimately!

As he makes significant progress in turning around his life, he still has many questions for which he often turns to Mark. One of these is the concern that turning to meditation might make him less competitive as it conjures up images of monks and robed people who seem to be removed from the real world. Over time he realizes that none of this is a call to give up right and appropriate action. As he brings in the principles of compassion with meditation in his life, he finds his relationships as well his work situation getting a lot better.

Associated with ABC, he takes the lead in researching and broadcasting stories on Mindfulness. During the course of his research, he finds that a large number of leading corporates have already incorporated Mindfulness training as part of their employee development initiatives. While they have branded their programs separately with a secularized program without the need for religious chanting, the basic principles remain the same. There is now a large body of research indicating that such practices actually rewire the brain with major benefits.

This is a book which is unpretentious and very conversational. I loved reading it and can relate to it based on personal experiences as well. However, his being dismissive of Tolle and Deepak Chopra does not feel right especially based on his limited interaction. In fact while he read Tolle's book, he reads nothing of Deepak Chopra, instead basing his opinion on his reading of his personality and commercial success. As he points out in the book, he is wrong on numerous occasions on his analysis of people. There is also inadequate material on alternative meditation techniques and experiences of others besides himself though he alludes to it in the afterword (including practices derived from Hinduism). That said, his overall conclusions ring true and he is certainly right about most of the literature we regard as “Self Help”.

In today's age, this is an excellent book to read. It brings to the mainstream questions and issues most working people have – the search for purpose, stress, and relationships. It also brings to the fore another important point – the wisdom of the ages dismissed by the waves of modernity, and deserving another look. You may just find that the secret to a right life was known long ago – hidden away in classics and practices which nobody bothers to look at any more. 

He discusses the problems in making such practices mainstream. In fact when he first tells people he has taken up meditation they look at him strangely. This is because such practices with origins in Eastern philosophies are associated with either robed monks or hippies. He decides a better way is to say that he has started a practice which has made him 10% happier. 

Overall, a book I strongly recommend you read. If it helps you seek a practice of your own, you might just find that it could certainly make you more than 10% happier.
Profile Image for Max.
535 reviews69 followers
April 5, 2014
A fun read, albeit one that gets bogged down in too many internal monologues to make it a truly great book.

Harris is a fun writer, yet I found this entire book to be strangely narcissistic. Which is ironic, as 'ego' is why he first started meditating in the first place.

His interactions with Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra are, however, hilarious - and I sincerely enjoyed how skeptically he approached the entire topic. Perhaps a bit too skeptically at times - his distrust of the entire subject had more to do with his own discomfort, instead of true skepticism of the science behind mindfulness.

There was a bit too much name dropping for me, and I found the discussions on mindfulness, mediation and Buddhism a bit cursory. Yet, an enjoyable and easy read on a very timely topic.
Profile Image for Michael Palkowski.
Author 2 books39 followers
January 24, 2015
A news anchor memoir spliced with banal ruminations about discovering meditation and the author's experiences with the self help industry. His insights are trite, boring and at times obnoxious. He marketed the book around a standard life trope, which was an unexpected meltdown (this time on live television) which resulted in self seeking discovery. This isn't how the book is structured at all and his "meltdown" seems to have had no clear effects on him at all, especially since his "discovery" comes mainly because he is assigned to cover religion as part of his job as a news anchor. Who has a meltdown, has a "self discovery" and yet retains the same life structures as before. This is called stretching the truth for marketing purposes.

He rightly critiques the absurd claims made by a variety of self help gurus but seems entirely unaware that he is selling a memoir under the guise of a self help book for again marketing reasons, effectively using their tactics. Look at the subtitle!

His shtick and writing style becomes tedious, especially when he pontificates on insights he has gained on religion. Despite his uprooted lifestyle as a war corespondent, he has nothing constructive or interesting to say about those experiences other than tenuously conveying his distanciation with emotion by focusing on his drug use. Is this the decent into the underworld? Or a privileged interpretation of what a difficult time would consist of?

In short the book doesn't accomplish any of its set goals and anyone with a working knowledge of meditation or Buddhism will be thoroughly disappointed at his school boy appropriation and analysis of its concepts and philosophy.

Profile Image for Justin.
284 reviews2,301 followers
October 25, 2017
Well, I watched that ol’ Minimalists documentary on Netflix, and there’s ol’ Dan Harris talking about having a panic attack on live TV. He mentions this book he wrote about being 10 percent happier, and I thought “Hell, I’d love to be 10 percent happier. Please, Dan, by all means, enlighten me.” See what I did there? Maybe not.

Anyway, Danny Boy starts his book sharing insights from his career, jobs he’s held, and stories he’s covered. In fact, some of the most interesting stuff found within these pages is Harris pulling back the curtain on what it’s like being on TV and reporting the news. He jumps pretty quickly into how his panic attack came about and the rough roads he went down to try and put himself back together.

It was nice to follow along with him on the journey toward meditation. Harris talks about some of the new age thinkers and writers he comes into contact with, people I’ve heard of, but this crash course was really helpful. I also loved his sense of humor throughout the whole thing as well as his skepticism. He approaches new ideas and techniques, but hits the brakes when he feels people are crazy or take things too far.

What I took away from this was that meditation really helped the guy out, and he didn’t buy into everything fully and go off the deep end into a new religion. He just talked to a lot of different people and tried some very interesting, weird stuff to lead him to a place where he’s happier. He’s nicer to be around. He lives in the moment and doesn’t stress about what’s happening next. He takes care of his mind and his body. He’s landed in a good spot.

I appreciate Harris not ending the book with some sort of three-step process for how to be happy. A lot of times these books can turn into some new system to try to rake in more cash, but this is more like reading his blog. There’s more than just meditation stuff here. The behind the scenes look at the news and some of his experiences were pretty fascinating. His quick synopsis of these new age thinkers is helpful as an introduction to other ways of thinking or seeing the world. All in all, this was not necessarily helpful, but it was a good story to read, and exposed me to new ideas and philosophies out there.

That’s 10 percent of my thoughts on this book. See ya.
Profile Image for Ginger.
788 reviews373 followers
October 27, 2021

10% Happier is a good balance of Dan Harris talking about his life as an anchor, his past cocaine addition, panic attacks he was having from war correspondence, and his journey of religion and spirituality.

He’s a good writer, and I was not bored while reading this.
It was informative, it doesn’t slam your head over and over with trying to be a yogi, and it’s got decent information that I think anyone can implement into their own lives.

After finishing 10% Happier, this is exactly the book that I was hoping for.

I went into reading Dan Harris’s 10% Happier looking to try some meditation and deal with work stress in a more productive way.

I’ve noticed that I’m not as happy with my career like I was years ago.
It could be the new promotion and more responsibilities, or it could be that I’m burned out.
I have gotten pretty crispy around the edges! I've also noticed that I’m reacting instead of responding to situations with projects and coworkers.

Who knows? But that’s one of the reasons why I picked this up. If I can be just 10% happier with my life, I would be okay with that.

Have you ever thought this?

"Wow, I have a good life. I’ve got a good job, health insurance, a loving spouse, a good support system of friends and family. I’ve got a roof over my head, drinking water, food in my kitchen, and my health is good.
What the fuck is my problem? Why can’t I be happier?"

Trust me, I know I sound like a wanker with these thoughts, but it’s the truth. I’m putting it out there and I know it’s ridiculous so you don't have to tell me this in the comments. 😉😂🤣

Yeah, it could be covid fatigue. It could be not seeing family more. It could be not traveling much in the last two years which is one of my hobbies.

But here’s the thing.

I should be happy in my life when things are relatively going well. Buddhists always look happy, content and satisfied with their simple lives. What gives?!

After reading this, I'm going to try a few things:

✔️ Try to meditate again but actually be consistent with the practice. It is called a "practice" after all.
✔️ Respond instead of reacting.
✔️ Go easy with the internal cattle prod, meaning lay off the harsh self-criticism of my missteps.
✔️ Being more authentic.

And one last thing and this is a quote in the book:

Nonattachment to results + self compassion = a supple relentlessness that is hard to match.
Push hard, play to win, but don’t assume the fetal position if things don’t go your way.
This, I came to believe, is what T.S. Eliot meant when he talked about learning 'to care and not to care.'
Profile Image for Michael.
72 reviews7 followers
March 21, 2014
Dan Harris wanted to title this book "The voice in my head is an asshole." When I heard that line I knew I was in good hands. Harris, whose celebrity has escaped me since I don't watch much television, is the perfect blend of smart-ass skeptic and spiritual seeker. The great thing about this book (essentially a memoir) is that Harris is in perfect alignment with my own cynical view and utter fascination with the world of self-help and Buddhism. His writing is sometimes overly mocking in tone but overall he really opens up about some remarkably personal stuff. To sum it up...I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone who wants to quiet their "monkey mind" and learn from sincere and unaffected teachers.
Profile Image for Caitlin Da Silva.
38 reviews2,566 followers
January 17, 2021
I’m no newbie to the concept of meditating—it’s a practise I’ve explored over the last few years—but 10% Happier by Dan Harris was a refreshing reminder that this journey doesn’t have to be perfect. Daily meditation doesn’t make you immune to hardship/stress/etc., but it does give you the tools to navigate those situations with more awareness.

In addition to finding Dan Harris’ investigation into this world fascinating (between learning about his career as an anchor and his attempts to endure lengthy meditation retreats, there was lot to unpack here haha), I also found myself laughing a lot. When you’re reading self help books, there can be times when you’re reading something and thinking to yourself: “woah, this is a little out there.” I appreciated that Dan leaned into those moments with wit...it made for a book filled with “mic drop moments” that still felt approachable.

Although this isn’t a guide to mediating, I do think there’s a lot to learn and takeaway from it. All that to say, this was a great book to start 2021 off with. There have been numerous examples in my life lately that keep reminding me how important the breathe is, so this was a perfect time to dive into this story. Highly recommend— especially if you’re a beginner to mediating and feeling skeptical 🙌✨
Profile Image for da AL.
370 reviews372 followers
March 28, 2017
He does a great job of demystifying meditation. In an enjoyable way he recounts his own experiences, from skepticism to belief in, & explains what he's learned from others along the way.
68 reviews10 followers
April 15, 2014
Very disappointing! All fluff, no substance!

First I have to admit, I am not a US citizen and I had never heard of Dan Harris before. I realized reading some of the reviews here, he is somewhat of a celebrity in the states, which may explain why so many people found his anecdotes fun and interesting. In my opinion they were largely boring. I read it because I was hoping for some more insights on the topic of happiness and meditation, but this was certainly one of the most shallow books on this topic. If you see me reading list so far, you may agree that Dan Harris' book adds nothing new.
Profile Image for David Rubenstein.
816 reviews2,583 followers
October 15, 2016
Dan Harris is a television journalist and news-anchor for the ABC network. He currently is the co-anchor of the Nightline show and the weekend edition of Good Morning America. He has gone into numerous war zones around the world, bringing back incredible stories from the front. He found this type of reporting to be thrilling, and often brought on an emotional "high". When he came back home, however, he found the need to self-medicate, with cocaine or other drugs. At one point in his career he experienced a panic attack while on national television. which triggered his quest for reducing his stress.

Harris was given the assignment to cover stories related to religion and faith. So, he used these opportunities to look for techniques that could help himself. He realized that he needed to reduce his stress, without, as he says, "losing my edge." He found some use for the things he learned from Eckhart Tolle and from Deepak Chopra. But it wasn't until he found meditation, that he realized that this was the magic technique that worked for him. Harris even went to a ten-day silent meditation retreat. Most of his time there was pure torture. But for a day or two, he experience the highest high of his life.

This isn't really a self-help book. The book describes Harris' journey through his journalist and television news career, and the enlightenment that he gradually attained. It was fascinating, fun, entertaining, and I recommend it to everyone.

I didn't read this book; I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Dan Harris. While his narration is excellent, the audio quality is not. It is obvious that the volume level was saturated, giving rise to distorted sound. Harper Audio should be ashamed of its audio engineering department. If it weren't for this audio defect, I would have rated the book 5 stars.
Profile Image for Ken.
Author 3 books969 followers
November 25, 2022
Self-helpful but not really self-help. Philosophical but not really philosophy. Autobiography but the auto only pulls into a few years' parking space.

A different animal, in other words, as Dan Harris comes at us from the heights of ABC television journalism -- an unusual vantage point for a half-Jewish morning news anchor who caught the Buddhism bug. And man, does he struggle. He's intrigued by Buddhism, but also skeptical as hell. It's the skepticism part that appeals because, except for a few woo-woo cases, who ISN'T both intrigued by and left sputtering over Buddhism?

Harris' journey takes him through many "gurus" and writers in the trade, but it takes time to reach the "realistic" Buddhists he craves -- gurus who can help him practice mindfulness without turning into the type of person who gets chewed up and spit out by the dog eat dog world of broadcast journalism.

Two that most definitely don't do it for him are Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra. Two that ultimately resonate with him are Mark Epstein and Joseph Goldstein (part of a group Harris, half Jewish himself, calls the "Jew-Bu" crowd -- Jews who have taken deep dives into Buddhism and become mentors for many others).

In the end, after going on an arduous 10-day retreat, Harris comes out both ambivalent and determined (if that's possible) about mindfulness. He creates his own list (noting how Buddhism has this thing about lists, starting with the Four Noble Truths) he calls "The Way of the Worrier" (get it?):

1. Don't Be a Jerk
2. (And/But...) When Necessary, Hide the Zen
3. Meditate
4. The Price of Security Is Insecurity -- Until It's Not Useful
5. Equanimity Is Not the Enemy of Creativity
6. Don't Force It
7. Humility Prevents Humiliation
8. Go Easy with the Internal Cattle Prod
9. Nonattachment to Results
10. What Matters Most?

Each is fleshed out to the reader's somewhat satisfaction (the reader being as skeptical as our skeptical hero). The end of the book also features a helpful Q & A appendix with answers to head scratchers like so:

1. Remind me, what's the point of this?
2. My mind keeps wandering. Am I a failure?
3. How come I don't feel relaxed? This really sucks.
4. You keep talking about this notion that "you can't help what we feel, only how you respond," but I want to feel different things. Won't meditation do that for me?
5. If I'm in physical pain, should I change position?
6. I keep falling asleep.
7. This is so unbelievably boring.
8. I keep trying to feel the breath as it naturally occurs, but every time I focus on it, I involuntarily start to control it, so it feels artificial.
9. What if I feel panicky and hyperventilate every time I try to watch my breath?
10. Isn't noting just a form of thinking?
11. Is being mindful the same thing as being in the moment?
12. Is meditation good for everyone?
13. You're not a teacher. What business do you have providing meditation instructions?
14. Can I meditate if I'm a believing Christian (or Jew or Muslim, etc.)? Will it erode my faith?
15. What is the least amount of time I can sit and still get the benefits the scientists are always talking about?

Is the book eloquently written? Nah. But the writing's far better than average, too, a tribute to Harris's background in journalism. Breezy reading, then, but with the occasional turn of phrase you might enjoy while learning.

Bottom line: "Hey, Mikey. I liked it!"
Profile Image for Perry.
632 reviews532 followers
September 1, 2018
Don't You Know You've Gotta Shock the Monkey!

Step Back, Then Move Forward with More Focus

I need to re-commit to the concepts of meditation and mindfulness. My "monkey mind" has returned. "Monkey mind" is the term Dan Harris and some others in the field use to describe in himself and his fellow Type A's (as I am), the crazy internal dialogue that no one but you could ever follow, in which your mind swings from one unrelated branch of thought to another, preventing you from fully honing in on any one thing and taking enjoyment out of present moments as each comes, since your thoughts always roam in the past or travel to the future.

The author Dan Harris is the anchor for the U.S. network ABC's Nightline and an ABC News correspondent. He has a good personality and personable writing style.

Now, what was I saying?

O yeah. If you've never used meditation and the principles behind it for self-awareness, I really recommend this book to you and to me. Doing a few simple things during a day, as suggested herein, can make a significant change in your thought processing and lead to better focus on key decisions and in that way positively impact your future.

Overall, I agree with Harris' assessment: when I've used meditation and its principles, I could quantify it as feeling generally 10% happier, definitely less stressed. The problem for me, as usual, is keeping with the gameplan. I'm glad this popped up again on my radar so I can re-commit myself to mindfulness.
Profile Image for Paul O’Neill.
Author 3 books185 followers
May 30, 2018
Surprisingly good read and not what I was expecting.

Recommended for anyone curious about meditation and mindfulness. Harris does a great job of breaking down all the fluffy and ‘hippy’ terminology that usually get associated with meditation. He also brings the benefits to life by showing how it helped him.

A very honest account and nicely told.
Profile Image for Numidica.
386 reviews8 followers
January 24, 2019
I was prompted to read this book by Michael Pollan's descriptions of meditation in his book, How to Change Your Mind; in Pollan's book, mindfulness was a somewhat peripheral subject, but it was interesting to me to learn that brain scans of seasoned meditators revealed the same kinds of changes as those found in people on psychedelic drugs like psilocybin. So I did a search for "most accessible book about meditation" (because trust me, a lot of them are nearly impenetrable), and I found 10% Happier. In my opinion it is a good book for someone who wants to learn the nuts and bolts of meditation: how people use it, what it does to one's outlook on life, and how to start if you're so inclined. But Dan Harris also has produced an entertaining autobiography that culminates in his embrace of meditation as a way to find a new mode for living his life.

Harris was apparently a classic Type A, competitive, impatient, young man in a hurry on his way up the ladder as a newscaster and as a war correspondent, and his take-no-prisoners approach to life began to catch up with him in various ways in his thirties. After a near-catastrophic melt down caused by drug use, he went into therapy, and he discovered mindfulness, or at least he began reporting on it and having an interest in it. Through several chance encounters, including an interview with the Dalai Lama, he became friends with several people whose backgrounds were similar to his, and who had taken up meditation as a way to improve their respective approaches to life.

Harris' story is interesting and worth reading, but if your real goal is to find simple instructions on how to begin meditation and make it a part of your life, he offers a step by step guide in an appendix, and his instructions were vetted by people with credentials in the mindfulness community. But even if you are really just interested in getting on with learning meditation, I would not skip the first part of the book just to get to the appendix. The book is highly readable; while it is not great literature, the story it tells is interesting, and it provides a great deal of context for the instructions in the appendix. Harris also helped created the 10% Happier app for guided meditations. If you have an interest in the subject of how our minds work (mysterious things they are indeed), I would also highly recommend Michael Pollan's book, even though meditation is not covered in great depth there. See my review of How to Change Your Mind at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3...
Profile Image for Donna.
3,975 reviews54 followers
September 15, 2017
I liked the title and combined with the positive GR ratings, I picked this one up. As one of my GR friends said, this came across more like an autobiography than self-help, which I really liked. During the first part when he is talking about his journalistic travels in the Middle East, I wondered what that had to do with being 10% happier. But he tied it all together.

I liked his humor. He had a nice balance of honesty and self-deprecating humor. I really felt happy for him when he got a girlfriend. It also would have been easy for him to hide his drug addictions and even his depression, but I liked that he told his story without making it all sound highly dramatized.

I read a lot of autobiographies and what stood out with this one, is that the events he chose to include were just that...it wasn't a story about them, but about him. Sometimes that is a fine line that gets lost in this genre, but I didn't feel that for this one.
Profile Image for BergerGames.
65 reviews13 followers
February 10, 2015
A Meditation Book Designed For A True Skeptic.

This is the first book that I've read on meditation that approached meditation through a severely skeptical eye. Dan Harris has asked all the questions you would have thought to ask and gets all the answers for you. This is also the first book that I've read on meditation that was approached from a journalists point of view. Using Dan's connections he has managed to interview and talk to most of the meditation community you wish you could talk to.

For these two reasons I strongly recommended reading this book if you are considering Meditation or if you are an experienced veteran and anyone in between!

If Dan Harris ends up writing another book I will definitely be interested in reading it. He has a very fluid, humorous and honest writing style. Dan gets bonus points for originally wanting to name the book: "The Voice In My Head Is An Asshole."

Thank you for reading my review!

As a bonus here are a few status updates I wrote while reading the book:

"Dan Harris takes a big dump on self help gurus for a couple chapters. I went through the same process as Dan, being suckered into buying those books only to realize they were based on no real substance other then made up words and empty promises. Then when it doesn't work the explanation you get is that it's your own fault because you don't believe hard enough in whatever confusing theory they're selling you."

"Dan Harris is just as big a skeptic as I am about religion and self help gurus apparently. Unless at some point in this book he's going to tell me he became enlightened. Haha."

"Wow! Who knew Dan Harris partied so hard? I wouldn't have guessed."
August 13, 2014
Ive read countless books on anxiety looking for some new takes on self help and reassurance that I'm not alone with this illness. I couldn't get past the first 3 pages of this book. When I realized this was a famous news anchor I immediately looked up his infamous panic attack on YouTube and felt insulted. If that what is considered a panic attack then what is happening to me? He hardly misses a beat on the air and was admittedly doing a lot of drugs at the time. I may try to pick it up again but felt deeply disappointed after reading such strong reviews.
Profile Image for Furrawn.
585 reviews44 followers
January 10, 2018
Surprisingly awesome. My friend Susan told me to read this. I was a bit shocked as she seemed the last person to suggest meditation. Since it happened a week after my attendance of the OUAT con where Lana Parrilla mentioned how meditation was important to her happiness which surprised me at the time, I felt like the universe was smacking me with a WAKE UP AND MEDITATE call.

This book is awesome sauce on multiple levels. It was fun reading about the experience of a a news person writing stories, exploring the world, and rising the ranks.
Dan was resistant to the idea of mediation etc which made me feel better. I'm NOT resistant to the idea of mediation but some of the language seems deliberately off-putting. Harris made me willing to take a step back.
I do still maintain the insistence on wincing at phrases like "transformation vortex of the infinite."

I'm curious. I was impressed by Dan's honesty. He does seem a bit of an @sshole sometimes which makes the whole book more refreshing and funny. He's a good guy. He's real.

I'll be reading the Epstein book next.... after the 5th Louise Penny book for some joy.
3 reviews8 followers
March 18, 2014
Great, down-to-earth "regular guy's" introduction to meditation. Also, a quick, fun read. For me, the book came into my life at a unique time. I'm a Stage IV melanoma patient. I've been meaning to enroll myself in a MBSR program (ala Kabat-Zinn) as I know meditation is an important tool. Reading Dan's book sealed it for me. I've enrolled in a program and, in preparation, have been practicing for 10 minutes/day using one of Kabat-Zinn's CD programs. Thanks Dan.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
185 reviews15 followers
June 28, 2016
Do you want a how-to guide for practicing mindfulness and meditation? This book is not for you. It's a story about Dan. Dan doesn't tell you how to mediate. Unless you want to learn about it by reading about Dan describing Dan meditating.

Do you want to be entertained by a thrilling memoir? This book is not for you, either. Dan's story is not particularly engaging, unless you are already interested in mindfulness.

Do you want to read a book by a famous person, and you don't care what it's about? This book is for you!

I am of course being too harsh. This book is all about Dan's personal journey from believing that mindfulness and meditation is all a bunch of nonsense to embracing much of it. It's good reading if you are interested in knowing whether meditation can be successfully separated from all of its religious Buddhist trappings (spoiler: IT CAN), whether it is difficult for everyone to focus their thoughts (spoiler: IT IS), whether it makes you into a limp noodle (spoiler: IT DOES NOT), and whether you can convince Diane Sawyer to do it (spoiler: IT IS ALMOST TOO EASY). But in the end it's just a personal story about one man's experience with the practice, and felt like it had only marginal value as either education or entertainment.

Profile Image for Tania.
1,234 reviews286 followers
January 6, 2015
4.5 stars. I loved everything about this. I'm not into self-help at all, so Dan's critical and questioning attitude worked really well in convincing a sceptic like me. I have even started meditating on a daily basis. His sense of humour is brilliant, and I can't remember when last I laughed so much while reading. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys A.J. Jacobs writing.

The Story: After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. A lifelong non-believer, he found himself on a bizarre adventure, involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists.
Profile Image for Tom Quinn.
552 reviews167 followers
July 28, 2018
Condescending privileged man discovers mindfulness meditation and is surprised to find it works.

Content is self-adulating. Tone is insufferable. Would probably be a good primer for busy folks skeptical of meditation themselves and in need of an introduction they can relate to.

3 stars out of 5. Not for me.
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