When it comes to self help there are plenty of people who will sell you on their get happy or get rich quick programs. For only 5 easy payments of $29.95 you will have unlimited wealth, happiness, sex, fame and fortune.
“This is where the Buddhist diverged quite dramatically from self help: they had an actual, practical program. It wasn’t expensive gimcrackery. No spendy seminars, no credit cards required. It was totally free”
In his new book Dan Harris details his journey to mindfulness as a way to combat his panic attacks, drug addictions, cut-throat, highly competitive world of the network news to become a happier, less dickhead version of himself.
The book is basically broken down into 3 parts. Part 1, the circumstances in his life that led him to mindfulness. Part 2, how he found it and what happened then, followed by Part 3, how it has helped him while still keeping his edge. Something he notes he lost for a while which stalled his career, because being to nice and passive was not the best strategy for his line of work.
Being that Dan is a journalist he had the opportunity to meet and interview two very prominent members of the new age personal transformation, Deepak and Eckart. Something about people like Deepak and Eckart always left me suspicious, not to mention I felt all their teachings were somewhat vague and ethereal. Almost as if they were purposely vague. In a nutshell he concluded that Deepak is basically full of shit and is in it to make money and Eckart, well he has a lot of good things to say but the dude is to weird and in his head, so his stuff is not as accessible as it could be.
I love his quote about Buddhism and practicing meditation. “This wasn’t just the doctrine of one weird German dude(Eckart Tolle) but an ancient tradition that was given serious credence by smart people like Epstein*.”
What I liked most about his book was how practical it was. I could very easily related to Dan. He was realistic about what mindfulness has done for him and how fucking hard it is. As I read about his experience with mindfulness I can’t tell you how many times I said, “me to, Dan, me to”.
To many people spout off how there lives are completely transformed, they are 100% happier and the world is their fucking oyster. Dan made no such bold claim. As the title indicates, he is 10% happier and you know what, that is pretty dam good.
*Mark Epstein is graduated from Harvard Medical school and is in private practice as psychiatrist in New York city and is also a professor at NYU. He is a modern scholar if you will on mindfulness who Dan befriended.
The full title is, 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works.