email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
"Are You There Alone?""How Come Boys Get to Keep Their Noses?""My Madness Saved Me"10% Happier365 Days49 Up56 UpA Beautiful MindA Beautiful MindA Beautiful MindA Book of ReasonsA Can of MadnessA Child's Life and Other StoriesA Dangerous LiaisonA Fight to BeA First-Rate MadnessA Good Enough DaughterA Heartbreaking Work of Staggering GeniusA Lethal InheritanceA Lethal InheritanceA Life ShakenA Life Worth LivingA Little PregnantA Message from JakieA Million Little PiecesA Numerate LifeA Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth CenturyA Slant of SunA Special EducationA Tribe ApartAbout FaceAddicted Like MeADHD & MeAEIOUAgainst Medical AdviceAgents in My BrainAileen - Life and Death of a Serial KillerAlgernon, Charlie and IAll Out!All Seasons PassAlphavilleAlways Too Much And Never EnoughAlzheimer'sAn Anthropologist on MarsAn EducationAn Unquiet MindAngela's AshesAngelheadAnna Freud: A BiographyAnnie's GhostsAnother Bullshit Night in Suck CityAnthology of a Crazy LadyApples and OrangesApproaching NeverlandAre You There, Vodka? It's Me, ChelseaAs I Live and BreatheAs Nature Made HimAt Home in the Heart of AppalachiaAt the End of WordsAvalancheBad BoyBad GirlBeautiful BodiesBeautiful BoyBeautiful WreckBecause We Are BadBecoming AnnaBecoming MyselfBen Behind His VoicesBequest and BetrayalBereftBertrand RussellBlackoutBlanketsBloodlettingBodies in Motion and at RestBoneBorn on a Blue DayBoyBoy AloneBoyleBrain on FireBreaking ApartBreaking the SilenceBrokenBulimics on BulimiaBuzzCamus and SartreCharles DarwinChasing the HighCheeverCherryCity of OneCluesClumsyComfortComplications Compulsive ActsConfessions of a Cereal EaterConfessions of a Former ChildConfessions of a Grieving ChristianConfessions of the Other MotherConfidingConquering the Beast WithinContesting ChildhoodCrackedCrazyCry Depression, Celebrate RecoveryDamned to EternityDancing at the Shame PromDante's CureDaughter of the Queen of ShebaDavid Sedaris Live at Carnegie HallDays With My FatherDefeating the VoicesDementia Caregivers Share Their StoriesDepression and NarrativeDescartesDetourDevil in the DetailsDiagnosis: SchizophreniaDirty DetailsDirty SecretDivided MindsDivine MadnessDon't Get Too ComfortableDown Came the RainDress Your Family in Corduroy and DenimDrinkingDriving My FatherDrunkardDryEarly Embraces IIIEarly ExposuresEinsteinEinstein and OppenheimerElectroboyElegy for IrisElijah's CupElliott Smith and the Big NothingElsewhereEnough About YouEpilepticEvery Girl Tells a StoryEverything In Its PlaceExamined LivesExiting NirvanaFaces of Huntington'sFamily BoundFast GirlFearless ConfessionsFind MeFinding Iris ChangFirst Person Accounts of Mental Illness and RecoveryFirst Person PluralFixing My GazeFlanneryFolie a DeuxFor the Love of ItFortress of My YouthFrank Ramsey (1903-1930)Franz KafkaFraudFree RefillsFreudFreudFreudFriedrich NietzscheFrom Joy Division to New OrderFumblingFun HomeFuriously HappyGalileo Get Me Out of HereGetting OffGirl in Need of a TourniquetGirl Walking BackwardsGirl, InterruptedGirl, InterruptedGirls on the VergeGoing BlindGoing Through Hell Without Help From AboveGraysonGrowing Up JungGuttedHalf a Brain Is EnoughHardcore from the HeartHead CasesHeal & ForgiveHeal & Forgive IIHeavier than HeavenHeinz KohutHeinz KohutHello from Heaven!Hello to All ThatHer HusbandHer Last DeathHigh PriceHole in My LifeHolidays On IceHolidays on IceHope's BoyHouse of Happy EndingsHouse of Happy EndingsHow I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill MeHow to Lose Friends & Alienate PeopleHow to Make Love Like a Porn Starhow to stop timeHumeHunger Makes Me a Modern GirlHurry Down SunshineI Am Dynamite!I Am I Am I AmI Feel Bad About My NeckI Never Promised You a Rose GardenI Remain in DarknessI'd Rather Eat ChocolateI'd Rather LaughIf I Die Before I WakeImagining RobertIn Search of FatimaIn the Realms of the UnrealIn the Wake of SuicideInside TherapyInternInvisible No MoreIt Happened to NancyIt Takes a Worried ManJack Cole and Plastic ManJean-Paul SartreJohn Stuart MillJourneys with the Black DogJust CheckingKafkaKantLa SierraLab GirlLast Flight OutLearning to FallLet Me Make It GoodLife As We Know ItLife InterruptedLife ReimaginedLimboLincoln's MelancholyListening in the Silence, Seeing in the DarkLittle PeopleLive For Your Listening PleasureLive Through ThisLiving in the Shadow of the Freud FamilyLiving With SchizophreniaLiving with SchizophreniaLockeLonelyLong ShotLook Me in the EyeLooking for The StrangerLoose GirlLosing Mum and PupLosing My MindLove Is a Mix TapeLove SickLove Times ThreeLove Works Like ThisLove You, Mean ItLuckyLudwig WittgensteinLyingMad HouseMad PrideMadame ProustMadnessMagical ThinkingMalignant SadnessManicMarcel ProustMarcus AureliusMary BarnesMaverick MindMaybe You Should Talk to SomeoneMe Talk Pretty One DayMeaningMelanie KleinMemoirMemoirs of an Addicted BrainMemoirs of My Nervous IllnessMen-ipulationMisconceptionsMiss American PieMockingbird YearsMomma and the Meaning of LifeMommies Who DrinkMonkey MindMore, Now, AgainMortificationMy Age of AnxietyMy Body PoliticMy Brain Tumour AdventuresMy DepressionMy Father's HeartMy First Cousin Once RemovedMy Flesh and BloodMy Horizontal LifeMy Life Among the Serial KillersMy Sister LifeMy Stroke of InsightName All the AnimalsNeural MisfireNietzscheNietzsche: The Man and His PhilosophyNinety DaysNo Apparent DistressNo Hurry to Get HomeNo Impact ManNo More ShavesNo One Cares About Crazy PeopleNolaNotebooks 1951-1959NothingOdd Girl Speaks OutOedipus WreckedOf Spirits & MadnessOn Being RapedOn the Edge of DarknessOn the MoveOne Hour in ParisOne Hundred DaysOphelia SpeaksPagan TimePassing for NormalPeople Who Eat DarknessPerfect ChaosPerfect ExamplePermanent Present TensePersepolisPlanet of the BlindPlaying with FirePlease Don't Kill the FreshmanPoisoned LovePollockPOPismPortraits of Huntington'sPoster ChildProzac DiaryPsychiatrist on the RoadPsychosis in the FamilyPuppy Chow Is Better Than ProzacQuitting the Nairobi TrioRaising BlazeReasons to Stay AliveRebuiltRecovered, Not CuredRelative StrangerRescuing JeffreyRestricted AccessRevengeRewind, Replay, RepeatRichard RortyRiding the Bus With My SisterRobert Lowell, Setting the River on FireRoom For JRosemaryRough MagicRunning After AntelopeRunning with ScissorsRXScattershotSchizophreniaSchopenhauerSecond OpinionsSectionedSeeing EzraSeeing the CrabServing the ServantSet the Boy FreeSex & Single GirlsSex ObjectShakespeareShe Bets Her LifeShe Got Up Off the CouchShut the DoorSickenedSilencing the VoicesSimone de BeauvoirSinging in the FireSkin GameSlackjawSlut!SmashedSome Assembly RequiredSome Kind of GeniusSometimes Amazing Things HappenSometimes Madness Is WisdomSongs from the Black ChairSongs of the Gorilla NationSoren KierkegaardSpeak to MeSpeaking Our Minds: Revised EditionSpecial SiblingsSpentStandbyStick FigureStill LivesStretchSunset StorySurviving OpheliaSwing LowTales from Both Sides of the BrainTales of PsychotherapyTalk to HerTell Me Everything You Don't RememberTellingTelling Tales About DementiaThe Accidental BillionairesThe AddictThe Anatomy of HopeThe Anti-Romantic ChildThe Art of MisdiagnosisThe Bastard on the Couch CDThe BeastThe Bell JarThe Best Seat in the HouseThe Big FixThe Body SilentThe Boy on the Green BicycleThe Boy Who Loved Too MuchThe Boy Who Loved WindowsThe Bright HourThe Buddha & The BorderlineThe Burn JournalsThe Camera My Mother Gave MeThe Cancer Monologue ProjectThe Center Cannot HoldThe Chelsea WhistleThe Churkendoose AnthologyThe Day the Voices StoppedThe Devil WithinThe DisappearanceThe Discomfort ZoneThe Doctor Is InThe Eden ExpressThe Family GeneThe Family SilverThe Farm Colonies: Caring for New York City's Mentally Ill In Long Island's State HospitalsThe Fasting GirlThe First Man-Made ManThe First TimeThe Geography of BlissThe Glass CastleThe Good DoctorsThe Hillside Diary and Other WritingsThe Incantations of Daniel JohnstonThe Infidel and the ProfessorThe Last AsylumThe Last Good FreudianThe Last Time I Wore a DressThe Liars' ClubThe Lives and Loves of Daisy and Violet HiltonThe Lives They Left BehindThe LobotomistThe Long GoodbyeThe Looked After Kid: Memoirs from a Children's HomeThe Loony-Bin TripThe Madness of Our LivesThe Making of a PhilosopherThe Making of Friedrich NietzscheThe Man Who Couldn't EatThe Man Who Shocked the WorldThe Man Who Tasted ShapesThe Marvelous Hairy GirlsThe Maximum Security Book ClubThe Me in the MirrorThe Memory PalaceThe Mercy PapersThe Mistress's DaughterThe Mother of Black HollywoodThe Naked Bird WatcherThe Naked Lady Who Stood on Her HeadThe Neuroscientist Who Lost Her MindThe Night of the GunThe Noonday DemonThe Notebook GirlsThe NursesThe Only Girl in the CarThe Only Girl in the WorldThe Orchid ThiefThe Other HollywoodThe OutsiderThe Philosopher's Autobiography The Philosophical Breakfast ClubThe Philosophical IThe Pits and the PendulumThe Pornographer's GriefThe Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner The Professor and the MadmanThe Psychopath TestThe Quiet RoomThe RecoveringThe Red DevilThe Rescue of Belle and SundanceThe Ride TogetherThe Rules of the TunnelThe Secret of LifeThe Shaking Woman or A History of My NervesThe Shared HeartThe Shiniest JewelThe Siren's DanceThe Statistical Life of MeThe Story of My FatherThe Strange Case of Hellish NellThe Summer of a DormouseThe SurrenderThe Talking CureThe Thought that CountsThe Three of UsThe Undoing ProjectThe Vagina MonologuesThe Velveteen FatherThe Winter of Our DisconnectThe Woman Who Walked into the SeaThe Years of Silence are PastThe Yellow HouseThe Yipping TigerThick As ThievesThinThis Close to HappyThomas S. SzaszTiger, TigerTits, Ass, and Real EstateTo Redeem One Person Is to Redeem the WorldTo Walk on EggshellsTransforming MadnessTrue CompassTruth & BeautyTruth Comes in BlowsTuesdays with MorrieTweakTwitch and ShoutUltimate JudgementUndercurrentsUnholy GhostUnlikelyVoices of AlcoholismVoices Of Alzheimer'sVoices of CaregivingVoices of RecoveryVoluntary MadnessWaiting for DaisyWar FareWashing My Life AwayWastedWaveWe're Going to Need More WineWe're Not MonstersWeather Reports from the Autism FrontWeekends at BellevueWhat Did I Do Last Night?What Goes UpWhat I Learned in Medical SchoolWhat's Normal?When a Crocodile Eats the SunWhen Breath Becomes AirWhen Do I Get My Shoelaces Back?.....When It Gets DarkWhen the Piano StopsWhen You Are Engulfed in FlamesWhere Did It All Go Right?Where is the Mango Princess?Where the Roots Reach for WaterWhile the City SleptWhile They SleptWho Was Jacques Derrida?Why I Left, Why I StayedWhy I'm Like ThisWildWill's ChoiceWinnicottWinnieWish I Could Be ThereWith Their EyesWomen Living with Self-InjuryWomen, Body, IllnessWrestling with the AngelYou Must Be DreamingYour Voice in My HeadZeldaZor
10% Happier is the true story of how the author, Dan Harris, tamed the voice in his head, reduced stress without losing his edge, and found self-help that actually works. Harris is the co-anchor of Nightline and the weekend editions of Good Morning America.
In a "Preface", Harris comments, with the forthrightness that pervades the book in its entirety, that the inner chatter of the voice in a person's head may potentially be a malevolent puppeteer. But Harris asserts that meditation is a proven technique to avoid being led around by the nose by the voice in one's head. Harris claims that, in his experience, meditation makes one 10% happier. Harris adds that, what he is attempting to do in the book is demystify meditation; and show that if meditation can work for him, it may work also for others.
Readers are informed, in an "Author's Note", that most of the events described in the book were recorded; and that quotes from unrecorded conversations were reproduced from memory.
A vast multitude of very substantively enlivening quotes populate the text densely.
The substantive composition is profusely strewn, anecdotally, with fascinating details of particular newsworthy persons and events, as sighted by the very sharp eye of Harris.
Many sharp sighted, biographical details of Harris's life likewise contribute materially to the forming of the book's substance.
The soup of Harris's delectable discourse is made of eclectic ingredients, including: blunt candor, humor, thoughtfulness, and criticisms (of himself, and others).
A further delectable ingredient, added delectably to the eclectic mix, is Harris's very considerable insightfulness, regarding his own emotions and feelings, as well as the body language, emotions, and feelings of others.
It must be said, as well, that Harris is a particularly skilled wordsmith.
Harris recounts biographically, in Chapter 1, how he became a network news correspondent, with Peter Jennings (who Harris idolized) as his mentor (and sometimes tormentor). As Harris adds flesh to the bones of his biography, readers learn that Harris loved being a war correspondent: Harris enjoyed the rush; and also felt a sense of purpose. Readers learn further that, in Harris's view, life's biggest riddle is the balance between stress and contentment; and once Harris was at ABC, any attempts at balance went out the window. Indeed, Harris claims that an on-air "meltdown" he suffered on the set of GOOD MORNING AMERICA resulted directly from an extended run of mindlessness, beginning his first day at ABC News.
For several years, as readers learn in Chapter 2, Harris reported on every twitch, every spasm of national issues impinging on gay marriage, abortion, and faith's role in public life. In attention absorbing manner, Harris puts pen to paper in describing Pastor Ted Haggard. Exhibiting his customary bluntness, Harris tells readers that he was thunderstruck upon learning that Pastor Haggard (a spiritual shepherd to thousands) had been leading a double life.
Someone named Eckhart Tolle especially attracts the rapt attention of Harris, in Chapter 3. As explained by Harris, Tolle argued (in a book entitled: A NEW EARTH) that one's entire life is governed by a voice in one's head; and this voice is engaged in a ceaseless (and mostly negative, repetitive, and self referential) stream of thinking. Harris confesses to readers that Tolle was forcing him to confront the fact that his internal cattle prod (which Harris had always thought was his greatest asset) might also perhaps be his greatest liability. But, as Harris puts it candidly, he honestly could not figure out if Tolle was a genius or a lunatic. Harris describes interviewing Tolle. From Harris's perspective, the pressing question of how to tame the voice in one's head was unanswered by Tolle.
Six weeks after interviewing Tolle, Harris met guru Deepak Chopra, interviewing Chopra in connection with a NIGHTLINE "Face-Off". The encounter is described in Chapter 4. Harris also describes a later interview of Chopra. Harris found Chopra, as with Tolle, to be a baffling mixtape of the interesting and the incomprehensible.Harris couldn't tell if Tolle was sane; regarding Chopra, Harris couldn't tell if he was sincere.
In Chapter 5, Harris introduces readers to psychiatrist and practicing Buddhist Dr. Mark Epstein. Harris explains to readers that , after reading a thunderously satisfying book by Epstein, Harris immersed himself in learning about Buddhism. As best as Harris could understand, the Buddha's main thesis was that, in a world in which everything is changing constantly, people suffer because they cling to things that won't last. The route to true happiness, according to the Buddha, is achieving a visceral understanding of impermanence.
Buddhism's secret sauce, as Harris informs readers in Chapter 6, is "mindfulness". Harris describes mindfulness, in a nutshell, as the ability to recognize what is happening in one's mind with nonjudgmental remove. After trying a technique for applying mindfulness, Harris's candid evaluation was that: the voice in his head suddenly lost much of its authority; but mindfulness did not erase Harris's real world problems. Harris decided to go on a retreat (led by Joseph Goldstein), to meditate at a Buddhist retreat center.
Harris's ten day, retreat experience is described, in very considerable, day to day detail, in Chapter 7. As recollected by Harris, Goldstein explained that the key is not to get carried away by desire; instead, desire must be managed with wisdom and mindfulness. Goldstein further gave a dharma talk, discoursing that, according to the Buddha, everything in the world is ultimately unreliable and unsatisfying because it won't last. As understood by Harris, Goldstein discoursed as well that meditation's real superpower is not just managing one's ego more mindfully but seeing that the ego itself has no actual substance.
Back at the office, Harris applied what he had learned on retreat to very practical challenges he was facing; and, as Harris tells readers (in Chapter 8), he found mindfulness to be extremely useful. According to Harris, meditation made him 10% happier. Harris writes further that, while meditation made him more resilient, it certainly was not a cure all.
Scientific research, pertinent to meditation, garners Harris's scrutiny, in Chapter 9. According to Harris, meditation, once part of the counterculture, had flowed into the scientific mainstream. The meditation research boom, Harris adds, got its start with an MIT-trained microbiologist named Jon Kabat-Zinn. Harris informs readers that the marines became interested initially in mindfulness in connection with PTSD; and there was also hope that meditation might produce more effective warriors. Readers learn additionally that the long arm of meditation has reached corporate America (reaching to General Mills, Aetna, Procter & Gamble, and Target). Harris describes having a vision, sighting a world where meditation would be universally socially acceptable; and where significant numbers of people were 10% happier.
At the top of Chapter 10, Harris describes interviewing the Dalai Lama. As the chapter unfolds, Harris focuses readers' attention on compassion meditation. As Harris explains it, at a personal level, the great blessing of becoming more mindful and compassionate was that Harris was infinitely more sensitive to the mental ramifications of even the smallest transgressions. But, as readers learn, Harris's new compassion policy encountered a major challenge, when Harris interviewed Paris Hilton.
Notably, in last Chapter 11, Harris presents for readers an annotated list (entitled "The Way of the Worrier") of wise suggestions and insights.
In an "Epilogue", Harris's intellectual flashlight illumines the research of a Yale researcher named Jud Brewer, in the area of enlightenment.
Finally, in an "Appendix", Harris: examines critically some bad reasons not to meditate; proffers some advice and tips, appertaining to basic mindfulness meditation; identifies some books Harris likes, relating to meditation and Buddhism; and gives succinctly thoughtful answers to some FAQS, pertaining to meditation.
Cautious readers may admonish that Harris's anecdotally composed discourse is not moored securely by the anchor of scientific rigor.
But Harris, showing great writing skill, has surely penned a fascinating book.
And by penning the book in a stylistically plain English manner, Harris has expanded its vast reading appeal to reach potentially a universal audience.
© 2014 Leo Yzych
Leo Uzych (based in Wallingford, PA) earned a law degree, from Temple University; and a master of public health degree, from Columbia University. His area of special professional interest is healthcare. Twitter @LeoUzych