March 26th – 27th
Second in my little grouping of non-fiction was 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduce Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works, which I think wins the title for the longest title I’ll be reading all year.
I’m luckily enough to work for a company which provides the Ten Percent app, owned by Dan Harris, for their employees. Meditation was something that I found beneficial when extremely stressed, and let’s face it, we’ve all been extremely stressed out the past few months. Scribd had the audiobook, narrated by Dan Harris, so I decided to redownload the Ten Percent app, and give this book a listen.
I was expecting the book to be a lot more “preachy” about meditation, but it felt very grounded. It read more like a memoir about Dan Harris’s life, his struggle with mental health and addiction even at the peak of his career, and how meditation helped him with that.
I really liked how candid he was in a lot of the book: how he valued science and the medical benefits of meditation. One of the people he specifically mentions in the book, Sam Harris, is a fairly prominent atheist, and one who also practices meditation. It was interesting to see the separation of spirituality or religion from meditation, and focus more on the psychological and medical benefits.
Some of my favorite parts of the book were his descriptions of a ten day meditation retreat he went on, something I don’t think I could ever do. He describes his struggle, his euphoria, and then back to his struggle with trying to bring his brain back to focusing on just his body over and over again. I can barely get my brain to do that for ten minutes, let alone ten days.
The title itself, and the description of where it came from was one of my other favorite parts of the book. The idea that meditation, for Dan Harris, and also for me, isn’t about being one with yourself or expelling thoughts to think about nothing. At first it’s about forgiveness, and being kind to yourself. Not berating yourself for slipping up or having your mind wander, but instead guiding it back to focus on the breath, or what you’re trying to focus on. Meditation doesn’t solve your problems. It doesn’t get you a promotion, or more money, or a new life overnight, but it can give you the tools to be a little bit happier.
I will say that this book did convince me to give meditation a more serious attempt, and to try and incorporate even 10 minutes a day into my routine. So far I’ve found that the days that I don’t want to meditate at all are the days I need to the most, and we’ll see if it makes me 10% happier.