10% Happier by Dan Harris Book Summary
A Short Summary of the 10% Happier Book
Meditation and mindfulness practice will make you at least 10% happier. Being mindful doesn’t change the problems in your life, but mindfulness does help you respond to your concerns rather than react to them. Mindfulness enables you to see that it’s okay to try to be successful as long as you accept that you can’t control how things turn out.
10% Happier Summary
“My preconceptions about meditation were misconceptions.”
“In my experience, meditation makes you 10% happier.”
- Some traits we think are fixed, like a quick temper, moodiness, or compassion, are learned skills, not fixed characteristics.
- Many assume they must be paranoid and worry if they want to stay at the top of their game.
- People care a lot about the bio on an author’s page.
“The best parts of Eckhart Tolle were a form of Buddhism.”
- Most improvements in life make very little difference, and that’s fine. We spend so much time searching for transformational change in one easy step, but can we all just admit that we were looking for the easy way out here? Just because you can’t change everything at once doesn’t mean you can’t get better. You will see a minimal increase from each action in many cases. One workout builds a minimal amount of muscle. That is what is to be expected. You’re not doing it wrong if you get minimal results. Most strategies deliver tiny results and require consistency over a long period. Harris comments on therapy only working a little bit in the book: “The limit isn’t your therapist. The limit is therapy itself. ” It makes a slight difference, but it still makes a difference. The key is to embrace these daily marginal gains rather than dismiss them because they are small.
- Meditation is like doing focused reps for your mind. Focus on the breath, lose your focus, bring it back to the breath, and repeat. This is the whole game. Keep bringing your mind back to your breath.
- How to meditate: sit somewhere comfortable, keep a straight spine, focus on a spot, and bring your focus back to your breath whenever you lose it.
- Meditation helps you shut down your monkey mind for a moment.
We have three habitual responses to everything we experience:
1) We desire it.
2) We reject it.
3) We zone out.
Mindfulness is the fourth response.
Seeing what happens in the world without an emotional response to it.
“Mindfulness represents an alternative to living reactively.”
- Many people fear meditating will cause them to lose their edge and become less competitive or driven.
- When you squelch something, you give it power. Ignorance is not bliss. ” You should not run from your problems and pain. You should acknowledge them.
The R.A.I.N. technique for meditation: Recognize. Allow. Investigate. Non-identification.
(1) Recognize: Acknowledge your feelings.
(2) Allow: the place where you lean into discomfort. Let the pain be.
(3) Research: Look into how the situation affects your body. Is my face hot? Is my back tight? Etc.
(4) Non-identification: Realize that just because you feel pain, frustration, guilt, or anger right now does not mean you are angry or broken. It is simply a phase happening now, not your identity as a person.
- Mindfulness seems to be about awareness of the self. You recognize and acknowledge the things going on around you and the emotions you are feeling. Rather than letting emotion drive everything, you step outside and see it from afar.
- Being mindful doesn’t change the problems in your life. You still need to take action, but the key is that mindfulness allows you to respond rather than react to the issues in your life.
- Hedonic adaptation is how people tend to quickly get back to a relatively stable level of happiness after significant changes in their lives, whether good or bad.
A simple question to ask yourself when you’re worrying: “Is this useful?”
“I do meditation because it makes me 10 percent happier.”
“Everything we experience in this world goes through one filter—our minds—and we spend very little time bothering to see how it works.”
- Meditation will make you more resilient, but it is not a “cure-all” that fixes all your problems or relieves all the stress in your life.
- One Harvard study shows that gray matter grows in meditators. This is known as neuroplasticity.
- Continuous partial attention is what scientists call what happens when we try to do too many things at once.
- The Dalai Lama has a theory on selfishness: we should strive to be wise and selfish rather than foolish and selfish. Selfishness is when you focus on self-centered and shallow activities. Smart selfish is when you show compassion and help others because it benefits you and makes you feel good. Compassion is in our own self-interest.
- Make eye contact and smile at people. This simple habit will make you feel more connected and much better each day.
- When police officers or first responders are interviewed about how and why they acted in a particular way during an emergency, they often say, “My training kicked in.” I like this idea of training yourself to be mindful, aware, compassionate, and so on. These are skills you can learn and, if you’ve practiced enough, will show up on their own when you need them to.
- Don’t confuse letting go with going soft. Just because you’re aware of what is going on and being mindful of it does not mean you just let things go when you have the ability to take action on them and improve. The way to respond to adversity is often to work through it, not to avoid it altogether in acting Zen.
- Striving for success is fine as long as you realize that the outcome is not under your control. Be as ambitious as possible, but let go of the result. This makes it easier for you to be resilient and bounce back if the result is poor.
- Buddhism is “advanced common sense.” It requires you to analyze simple fundamentals until a deeper understanding is achieved.
10 Buddhist Principles for the Modern Worker:
(1) Don’t be a jerk.
(2) When necessary, hide the Zen.
(4) The security price is insecurity until it’s not helpful.
(5) Calmness does not stifle creativity.
(6) Don’t push it.
(7) Humility safeguards against humiliation.
(8) Use the internal cattle prod with care.
(9) Independence from outcomes.
(10) Ask, “What matters most?”
“Meditation is the superpower that makes all the other precepts possible.”