Interesting Reads – 10% Happier By Dan Harris

Today we are starting a new feature on Hot Off The Mat entitled Interesting Reads. In Interesting Reads, I will periodically share my thoughts on recent books in the yoga and meditation realms. If you have any suggested books, please let me know in the comments. I am looking forward to sharing this with all of you. 

I just finished an interesting book on meditation entitled 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works. It was written by Dan Harris, an ABC newsman, who details his transformation from meditation skeptic to author of a book on the subject. It is a fun and quick read as he shared interesting anecdotes from his life and how they led to his inquiry into and eventual adoption of meditation as a daily practice. Thank you to Souzapalooza for suggesting the book to me!

As someone new to meditation, I found the author’s skeptical approach very helpful, because he asked a lot of the questions that I am asking in my own mind. The good news is that he was able to provide logical and reasonable answers to these questions through his own research and through personal experience.

  • Can this really make a difference for me?
  • How will I find the time?
  • Will my family and friends think I have taken this yoga thing a bit too far?
  • Will I become so relaxed that I become a pushover?
  • Will I be able to let things go more easily rather than dwell on them and hold grudges?

I came away from the book with a few favorite quotes and an increased motivation to meditate. In fact, I made my whole family meditate together this weekend. My kids caught the giggles at the start, but when I kept resetting the timer back to 10 minutes each time someone laughed, they stopped. I’m not sure they loved it, but wouldn’t it be great if I could get them started on this early in life. Imagine how much stress they might avoid as they grow up.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

  1.  “The pursuit of happiness becomes the source of our unhappiness.” Doesn’t that sound familiar! If only I can get into such and such school, then I will be happy. But once you do, this turns into, if only I can get such and such job, then I will be happy. And so on down the line. Finding happiness in the current state of affairs is hard, but if you don’t enjoy the ride, you will never enjoy much at all.
  2. “You can still worry, but only so much as it is useful.”  I am a worrier, and I am ok with that because I think that worrying is a good way to brainstorm solutions to potential or existing problems. BUT, once the worrying hits a point of diminishing returns, being able to nip it in the bud is a very helpful skill. I hadn’t considered the usefulness point to my worrying, but am now trying to ask myself if the worrying I am doing is useful, and if not, try to move on.
  3. “Respond, not react.” There is a huge distinction here that I had not considered. Meditation will not make you ignore problems, but it will help you to respond to problems more calmly, rather than just reacting in the moment. There are many times I wish I had counted to 10 before speaking or firing off that angry email. If meditation could help me take those ten seconds, that would be a huge improvement!
  4. “Make the present moment your friend rather than your enemy. Because many people live habitually as if the present moment were an obstacle that they need to overcome in order to get to the next moment. And imagine living your whole life like that, where always this moment is never quite right, not good enough because you need to get to the next one. That is continuous stress.”  Yup. Enough said on that one.

If you have the time, check out the book. It is a quick read and I found it to be very relatable. And just to be clear, nobody asked me or paid me to review this book. I just liked it and wanted to share.

Fellow yogis, do you have any books on yoga or meditation to recommend?

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