An Audible book review — 10% Happier, by Dan Harris
Stories have a way of capturing us. Given that the author is in the story-making business, he creatively loops several facets of meditation, vis-a-vis a series of real-life tales, into a mainstream mindset. Overall, I found 10% Happier entertaining and well worth the listen.
Admittedly, I didn’t know who the author was when I came across this book. Being part of a major news network contributed a degree of credibility to the narrative, especially since he had the ability, and apparently, the desire, to interview a broad cross-section of leaders on the ‘spiritual’ side of the self-help business. He, therefore, brings an objective, albeit at times somewhat inelastic, perspective to the concept of meditation.
It was slightly off-putting, for example, that he needed to dis Eckhart Tolle right out of the gate, even though Tolle’s book, A New Earth, which he admittedly read three times before he started his journey, opened the door into a life-changing, philosophical shift in his thinking. His curious derision for Tolle seemed to be affected not only by concepts he evidently couldn’t grasp but also by his wardrobe. Thankfully, Harris somewhat redeemed himself in the epilogue, reluctantly giving Tolle (some) credit.
At times, it seemed like he was writing the book for his colleagues at ABC, perhaps to explain spats of conduct as well as elucidate the logic for his path into the quasi-spiritual world. Still, the book was highly engaging, with humorous bouts of self-deprecation and a partial inside view of the high-stress world of network news.
Apart from his highly skeptical nature — if there is no proof, and it’s not mainstream, then it borders fringe or beyond unless someone he respects provides scientific and logical evidence — Harris comes across relatively open, honest, with hefty doses of witty tongue-in-cheek, which adds to his likability.
For anyone wanting to increase their English vocabulary, I’d recommend the written book. Because I listened to the narrated version, I was (slightly) better able to understand, if only in context, the abundance of unfamiliar flowery words and phrases peppered throughout. Reading such a bounty of unusual words would have stopped me in my tracks more often than I would have liked (but that may be a good thing).
What I particularly liked about the book, besides the evocative anecdotes, is his method of spreading the value of meditation, which, because of his unique media role and presentation style, takes some of the mysteriousness out of an opaque topic. I’ve been on the cusp of starting this lifestyle practice for too long. After listening to the book, I’m a convert. Meditation, as it’s evidently been scientifically proven, is an exercise with only constructive upside benefits.
Even though I was slightly annoyed about the Tolle dissing, (it was useful mindfulness practice anyhow), I found myself wanting more when it ended. Hence, I’ve already pre-ordered his new guidelines coming out in Dec 2017. I’m at least 10% more motivated.
Suggestion: Harris closed the book with a self-developed list of ten useful “precepts.” I’d recommend changing #1 from “don’t be a jerk” to “be kind.” It’s easier to be something than not being something. Besides, jerk is relative, and kindness precludes jerkness.