10% Happier by Dan Harris

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

Harris Cover ShotI stumbled upon this book while in the middle of a bathroom renovation (more on that next week). I needed an audiobook to help pass the time, and this was advertised on the home page of Audible. I had no idea at the time it was becoming such a sensation. I liked the idea of a first person narrative about someone else’s dabbling in self-help and self-improvement. In our house, we’re not shy about books on self-improvement. I listened to preview, and liked this Dan Harris character. I don’t watch evening news or morning shows, so I have to say I wasn’t familiar with him. (Which made listening to the book maybe more entertaining? I had no idea what the narrator looked like.)

To the nuts and bolts – this isn’t a self-help book, so you won’t really find that here. But what you will find is a candid, wry, humorous take on one man’s journey to find something to keep him afloat. It’s entertaining and insightful, not a combination you find very often.  Harris seems pretty normal, aside from his anxiety and depression being accelerated by wartime reporting for primetime television. His experiences could be those of anyone. Being in the journalism world, Harris had unique access to interview some quite notable figures, everyone from Christian evangelicals to Eckhart Tolle. But what struck me as endearing, is that even after his conversations with these up-and-coming, famous, or infamous people, he still just buys the books and does the homework, like the rest of us do it. And in 10% Happier, he didn’t let the notoriety of any of these folks cloud the way he distilled their message. It either worked or didn’t. I won’t get into specifics over the different avenues that Harris explores, those are part of the value of the story. But what he arrives at in the end makes very good sense.

I can’t recall if it’s in the book, or if it was in an interview I read, but something that made me appreciate Harris, and his book, even more was that he said he originally wanted the title to be “The Voice in My Head is an Asshole.”  And that’s something I can relate to.

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