Friday, April 25, 2014

10% Happier by Dan Harris

This is Harris' memoir intertwined with his investigation into Buddhist meditation.

He related how he got into broadcasting, his drug use, the televised panic attack, going off drugs cold turkey, psychotherapy, his beat as religion reporter, learning from Ted Haggard, Eckhart Tolle, and Mark Epstein and Buddhism. Epstein recommended meditation. Harris tried it, found it difficult, but kept at it. He practiced mindfulness, went on a Goldstein retreat and was finally able to meditate. He writes about brain studies done on those meditating, interviewing the Dalai Lama, experiencing compassion in his meditation, accepting the validity of karma, and finding a balance between Buddhist principles and ambition. Through all of this he has remained agnostic.

He has added an Appendix, including bad reasons not to meditate, a description of basic mindfulness meditation, tips, recommended readings, FAQs, and more.

Harris begins his book by saying that if you can get past all the guru stuff, you'll find that meditation is just an exercise for the brain. “It's a proven technique for preventing the voice in your head from leading you around by the nose.” In his experience, meditation is not a cure all but will make you 10% happier. In Harris' telling of his exploration of meditation, it does remain very much within the Buddhist tradition and includes guru training.

As a Christian, I know there is controversy over meditation. As Harris presents it in this book, it is certainly couched in Buddhism. He does have a note in the Appendix that Christians have felt more comfortable with the MBSR technique, a stress reduction program using a combination of mindfulness meditation and yoga. As a Christian, I have also read a great deal on meditation and mindfulness in literature not associated with Buddhism. I think there is something we can learn from those practices.

Much of this book is about Harris' life. If you want to be privy to the ins and outs of broadcast, including news people at ABC, you'll like this book. If you want to understand how a career driven individual comes to the point of practicing meditation and mindfulness, you'll like this book. If you want to know how to be 100% happier, you'll need to go elsewhere. As a Christian, I know where that elsewhere is.

Note: there is crude language in this book that some might find offensive.

I am taking part in a blog tour of this book and you can read other reviews here.

Dan Harris is the co-anchor of Nightline and the weekend edition of Good Morning America on ABC News. He was previously the anchor of the Sunday edition of World News. He regularly contributes stories for other shows and has reported from all over the world. He spent many years covering America's faith scene. He has been with ABC News for fourteen years. Before that he was in local news in Boston and Maine. This is his first book. He and his wife live in New York City.

IT Books (an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers), 256 pages.

I received a complimentary digital galley of this book through Litfuse for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

No comments: