Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday: “Ten Percent Happier” by Dan Harris

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Meditation isn’t just for the woo-woo crowd. Written by agnostic journalist Dan Harris, Ten Percent 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 is a well-written memoir about an everyday workaholic who takes up meditation.

Read it to convince your skeptical self to try this evidence-based strategy for improving mental health.

Key Takeaways

  • Studies have shown the transformative effects of meditation, including evidence for the existence of enlightenment.
  • The purpose of meditation is not to feel something, but to simply try and build your meditation muscle, similar to practicing a sport or a musical instrument.
  • Meditation can help you improve your work relationships, as evidenced by the author’s own transformation from being a difficult colleague to being seen as “easy”.
  • To meditate, first choose a focal point for your breath, such as your mouth, chest, or belly. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath. You can silently repeat “in-out” to help you focus.
  • After grounding yourself in your breath, practice “noting”–noticing and labeling thoughts or dominant feelings without judgment. This is called “choiceless awareness” and can lead to a real breakthrough in meditation.
  • Don’t worry too much about how you feel while meditating. The goal is to redirect your attention back to your breath whenever it wanders. That’s the whole game.
  • During a long meditation, it’s normal to experience both bliss and misery within the same hour. As you advance in your practice, the ups and downs will become less pronounced.
  • If focusing on your breath doesn’t work for you, try a body scan meditation, a compassion meditation, or a choiceless awareness meditation instead.

About the Author

Dan Harris is an American journalist and author, best known for his book 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. The book was published in 2014 and describes Harris’ journey from skepticism towards self-help and spirituality to a more balanced and mindful life. In it, he explains how he found inner peace through meditation, and how this practice helped him to be more productive, less stressed, and happier in his personal and professional life. The book was a New York Times bestseller and has been praised for its accessibility and practical approach to mindfulness and meditation. Harris is also a co-anchor of ABC News’ “Nightline” and the co-founder of the 10% Happier movement and app.


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