3 Sentence Summary: Dan Harris wrote the book, 10% Happier, to share his personal journey to living a more content life. The book is full of his own anecdotes and perspectives on how he found his way to a more fulfilling life. In it, he talks in-depth about meditation and mindfulness and how they benefitted him in many ways.
This book not only offers a practical way to approach mindfulness in the modern world, but it’s written in a way that is both entertaining and informative. It’s rare to find a book that makes you laugh and makes you think at the same time, but this book does both.
Chris believes that using logic and reason aren’t always the best methods to use during negotiations because they can be seen as more forceful and less understanding. Tactical empathy is a much better approach to use because it allows you to see where the other person is coming from and understand their needs. This book will help you learn how to control negotiations with people by using empathy so that you can get what you need while still taking care of the other person.
Summary Read Time: Less than 6 minutes
Actual Book Length: 256
First Published in: 2014
Below is the detailed yet quick summary of the book:
Chapter 1: Intro
This book is about a daytime talk show host who is struggling with many aspects of his life. He’s highly ambitious, addicted to drugs, and incredibly competitive. His life starts to unravel when he has an on-air anxiety attack. This prompts him to go to therapy and sober up. Eventually, he agrees to embark on a spiritually-themed journalism project imposed upon him by his boss, which helps him turn his life around.
Harris eventually found Mindfulness, which he thought might be the answer to his spiritual questions. He found that it helped him to tame the self-critical voice in his head.
Chapter 2: What is Mindfulness?
As the Buddhists say, mindfulness allows you to create space in your head so that you can respond to thoughts and feelings, rather than just react to them. You can’t control what comes up in your head, but you can control how you deal with it. This is an important distinction because it means that we can’t always help the thoughts and feelings we have, but we can always choose how to react to them.
How to Meditate:
- Sit down.
- Get comfortable
- Focus on your breath.
The essence of mindfulness is the ability to recognise what is going on in your mind right now—anger, jealousy, sadness, the pain of a paper cut, and so on—without becoming consumed by it.
Chapter 3: Be Present
Make the present moment your friend, not your foe. Because so many people live as if the present moment is an obstacle that must be overcome in order to reach the next moment. And imagine living your entire life in this manner, where this moment is never quite right, never good enough because you need to move on to the next. That is constant stress.
The Waterfall Method: Take a quick second to visualize a waterfall. The water represents your thoughts and emotions and mindfulness is the space behind the waterfall. By picturing this, it might help you better understand what mindfulness is and how it works. Thoughts and emotions can be like a waterfall, always rushing and moving forward but if we take a step back, we can create some space and have a better perspective overall.
Chapter 4: Obsessive worry of Past & Future prevents your Present
The ego is obsessed with the past and future, which causes it to miss out on the present.
The key to combating the ego and staying in the Now is always saying “yes” to the present moment. Of course, there will be times when you need to make a decision about what to do next, but try to stay as present as possible in the moment. Don’t be passive about things when you know you shouldn’t be.
Chapter 5: Make it R.A.I.N
Recognize, allow, investigate, non-identification. This acronym spells out “RAIN” and it’s a great method to help you put life back into perspective and make you feel better when you’re having a tough day or if you’re stressing over something in your life. By recognizing the situation for what it is, allowing yourself to investigate the root of the problem, and not identifying with the problem itself, you can help yourself see the situation more objectively and find a way to move past it.
Here’s how you can put it into action:
1) Recognize: Accept the truth/reality of a thought.
2) Allow: Now that we’ve acknowledged our emotions, it’s time to “let them be” or “let it/them go.”
3) Investigate: Next, we’ll look at how these feelings/thoughts affect our bodies (do the thoughts/feelings that arise in consciousness make your head throb? Are they itching your face? What do you think you’re feeling?)
4) Non-identification: The final step is to recognise that just because I was angry, jealous, or afraid did not make me a permanently angry or jealous person. These were just fleeting mental states.
Chapter 6: Respond rather than React
In order to take control of our lives, we need to learn how to respond rather than react to the different stimulus we come across. All too often, people let their thoughts dictate their actions and fail to live in the moment. This way of living leaves very little room for personal growth. If we can learn to hit the pause button between stimulus and response, we can then choose the most effective course of action rather than blindly reacting like we’ve been programmed to do.
When we respond, instead of instantly reacting, we’re giving ourselves a chance to pause, think about the situation, and then act based on what we believe is the best course of action.
Chapter 7: Enjoy the journey
If you’re anything like me, you’re always striving to achieve more and get things done. But sometimes, our focus falls into the “when I get X I’ll finally be happy” mode, which is actually what makes us unhappy.
So what’s the best way to deal with all the challenges and obstacles we face while chasing our dreams? The answer is actually quite simple: remember to enjoy the moment and have fun along the way. It’s important to savor the journey because it’s just as rewarding as reaching the final destination. Happiness is a by-product of pursuing a worthwhile goal, so as long as we’re thinking about happiness in the form of a clear goal, we’ll eventually achieve it.
Chapter 8: Enjoy the journey
You don’t need to lose your edge when you tame your ego, some people dread the Buddhist concept of “letting go,” because they perceive it as being submissive or weak. However, in actuality, taming your ego can make you a better leader and allow you to see things from a different perspective. It is important to remember that you don’t need to become a pushover in order to let go of your ego.
As Marc Epstein points out in his book, there are people who misunderstand the teachings of Buddhism and use them as an excuse to deny themselves of things they want or need. This not only goes against the point of Buddhism, which is to tame the ego, but it’s also harmful to the individual. It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your own happiness or needs in order to achieve enlightenment.