So excited to kick off my Book Club posts, where I’ll be writing reviews of some of the books I’ve been reading this year. I’ve been going through a list of a self-help & meditation books recently, but I have to say that this one is that first one so far to actually resonate with me. Truthfully, my life has changed after reading this book.
Disclaimer: Do not read these reviews until after you have read the book! Spoilers ahead.
The author, Dan Harris, is a TV news anchor from New York City who has been on Good Morning America and Nightline. In this debut novel, he walks us through his discovery of meditation and mindfulness. As a reporter, he was given the role of reporting on faith segments around the world. Through this role he got the chance to meet and interview influential leaders like Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and the current Dalai Lama.
Harris, like me, was very skeptical about meditation. We all have that voice in our head and frankly it is hard to turn it off, even for a minute. Below I’d like to share some of my favorite quotes from the book.
It was a rigorous brain excercise: rep after rep of trying to tame the runaway train of the mind. The repeated attempt to bring the compulsive thought machine to heel was like holding a live fish in your hands. Wrestling your mind to the ground, repeatedly hauling your attention back to the breath in the face of the inner onslaught required genuine grit. This was a badass endeavor.(page 101)
I feel the same way about meditation. It sounds great in theory, but man it’s difficult to actually do. Plus on top of that, we are all busy individuals. Fitting it into our day along with work, social life, exercise, etc seems almost impossible.
According to Buddha, we have three habitual responses to everything we experience. We want it, we reject it, or we zone out. Mindfulness is a fourth option, a way to view the contents of our mind with a nonjudgemental remove. I found this theory elegant, but utterly unfeasible. (page 104)
The reason I resonated most with this book is because the author is so refreshingly honest. He never preaches, instead he walks us through his thought process while approaching these difficult to understand topics. It was also really neat to be able to read his behind-the-scenes explanations of events that the world simply saw on TV, like when Paris Hilton walked out of an interview with him and also when he had the panic attack live on Good Morning America.
My favorite “lesson” from the book was the one about non-attachment. This is because many times when people start meditating, letting go of external stresses, other people assume that the Zen-ness will cause the said individual to be less ambitious or craving of success. Harris explains how this isn’t the case, with a line from the book saying something like, “I said be simple, not a simpleton.”
Non-attachment to results + self compassion = a supple relentlessness that is hard to match. Push hard, play to win, but don’t assume the fetal position if things don’t go your way. (page 212)
The best example of this to me right now in my life would be applying for a job. Prepare well, use your resources, present your best self…and then let it go when it comes to the results. We cannot control the external factors. Whatever the outcome may be, it’s important to know we gave it our all. On to the next one!
10% Happier was published in 2014, turns out he published a sequel, a how-to guide, last year! I look forward to reading it soon and learning more about his journey.
Thank you for reading this brief review! Message me to chat further if you’ve read the book or are planning to, would love to continue this discussion!