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
Book Author: Dan Harris
Review by Leo
It's REALLY hard to find information about mindfulness and meditation that isn't filled with pseudo-advice such as ‘align your spiritual energies', ‘respect for the perpetual sacredness' or some other hyper-spiritual nonsense. I'm not of the school of ‘yoga pants' meditation, or reaching some kind of mystical, godly spiritual enlightenment.
Even after reading Eckhart Tolle's ‘Power of Now' and ‘New Earth', you can end up with more confusion, than actual answers. ‘Denying the now when you are in alignment with the pain-body' can be a confusing and overwhelmingly magical and mystical if you don't have a clear translation of what those terms mean.
‘Life After Death' by Deepak Chopra was some next-level (not in a good way) sensationalistic nonsense relating hinduism, monotheism and pseudo-science. No, we don't know what happens after death, and no, Deepak Chopra isn't credible. But he's a great marketer, story-teller, and sells a lot of books.
I was recently recommended ‘Work, Sex, and Money' by Chogyam Trungpa. This recommendation came from an individual whom I found extremely enlightened, when communicating of mixing of energies, and the wheels of the present moment, vs the events that happen around you (you are present to the moment when you are the center of the wheel, as opposed to been on the outside, and being moved by the moment). Anyways, the book (Work, Sex, Money) itself was WAY too convoluted (too dense with mind-over-matter information), and difficult to comprehend.
I even sat down to listen to an introduction from an ‘Ayurvedic' mantra Yogi in Chiang Mai, Thailand. This dude made absolutely no sense whatsoever. He told us of the 7 food taste of Asian culture, vs the 5 tastes within european culture, and the water and the earth energies etc etc. Even another listener found his information, objectively, nonsensical.
My goal was to find a – no bullshit, non-mystical, non-ghostly, no crazy ancient hindu/buddhist-words – way to explain the purpose of attaining ‘spiritual enlightenment', and why I should be doing ‘mindfulness and meditation' practices. I'm talking about something supported with science, practicality, and rational reason.
10% Happier was the answer, and a REALLY well written book at that.
The level of critical analysis, and objective rationality coming from the author was, energizing, to say the least. In a non-scientific way, he simply wanted to cut through all the bullshit.
No, Eckhart Tolle doesn't make sense 50% of the time when he says something. And yes, Deepak Chopra is just a salesman who sells you the idea of spirituality through his dozens and dozens of books. Yes, there are people who just take advantage of you to sell you the idea of enlightenment, and this is what the author sought to cut right through.
And while, Buddhism can be considered the great grandfather of psychology, it still contains sensationalized references to magical things like re-incarnation, 7-levels of hell, and other mystical properties (that only made sense pre-science.)
This is a story about the author and his life. Fom being a hard-hitting news reporter who cut through the bullshit of religious ideologies, to delving deep into the world of spirituality and their self-proclaimed gurus.
The author even digs deep into the present culture of adding meditation into the business culture (Google uses it), sports psychology (the NBA uses it), and general every day living (you've probably tried it).
But the author does make a point that we also need ‘compassionate' meditation, rather than just calming our minds of stress. Compassion meditation involves thinking about people around you in a positive, loving way, as opposed to becoming a ‘centered, objectifying, emotionless' individual.
If meditation and mindfulness are topics that interest you, then this is a MUST read. If you are an objective person (like to look at facts, and critical analysis), then this is an EVEN MORE must read.
While sometimes the book can be bogged down with the authors own personal story, I would rate this as among the top 5 books on meditation, mindfulness, and reaching peak mental performance (other books: Rise of Superman, Mindful Athlete, Power of Now)
Quote of the Day:
I mentioned that my efforts to stay in the Now had been frustrating, adding another layer of guilt on top of the normal churn of my mind. “Because I’m thinking all the time,” I said, “I can’t be in touch with the Now, so now I’m feeling guilty about not being in touch with the Now.” “Yes, as you rightly put it, that’s another layer of thinking—and that layer of thinking says, ‘You see, it doesn’t work. I can’t be free of thinking.’ Which is more thinking,” he said, laughing gently. ~ 10% Happier, Dan Harris