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Book Review: 10% Happier by Dan Harris

When Dan Harris of ABC News suffered an on-air panic attack while reading the news on Good Morning America (preserved courtesy of YouTube), the experience set in motion a journey of introspection that led to a fascination with meditation derived from Buddhist teachings. It also led to this wonderful book. The title of 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 gives away a lot of what this book is about. It is the author's story of his transition from a relentlessly driven Type A in the very competitive demanding field of network news into a balanced emotionally healthy and happier human being.



Harris's spiritual journey takes some interesting and freaky twists and turns. His assignment as ABC's religion and spirituality correspondent has him crossing paths with some fascinating persons, including disgraced evangelist Ted Haggard, self-help authors Eckhardt Tolle and Deepak Chopra, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, meditating Marines, a group of practitioners of Buddhist meditation that Harris dubs "the Jew-bus", and even Paris Hilton. In the process he attends a 10 day meditation retreat, while getting married and going through a roller-coaster ride in his professional career. It is the sharing of the author's personal journey, as well as how he learns and evolves in his knowledge and understanding of the concept of mindfulness that make this such a compelling story.

If Harris had written a how-to book about meditation, it would not have been as effective as his explanation of how he incorporated the practice in his own life and how he learned from his mentors how to balance the principles of compassion and non-attachment without losing his edge in a position requiring creativity and competition. Harris does also give the reader a basic course in how to meditate, but it is the sharing of his own story that make this such a terrific book. Harris isn't selling anything. He offers the reader an explanation of how he transitioned from neurosis to quiet competence and 10% more happiness. Yet in reading his journey, it is hard not to be enticed into spending 5 minutes a day joining the millions of meditators on the journey to mindfulness.
Tags: author: h, genre: non-fiction, review
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