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10% Happier

How would your life look if you were just 10% happier?

If the wind rustled through the trees just a little louder and those experiences with your loved ones were just a little more clear and memorable….

Well that’s a journey that Dan Harris went on. 

Dan was the anchor for ABC World news tonight and Good morning America and then in 2004 he has a panic attack right there live on air. You can watch the video on Youtube (I think he actually handled it quite well).

After having this experience Dan read A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle (I’ve read this book and I recommend it to anyone, it will make you look at yourself and all of your friends completely differently). This book made him more curious about meditation and how exactly it worked. But Dan’s bullshit filter is pretty strong, so a lot of the things people said were just not acceptable to him.

He then used his career as a new reporter to interview people who knew about meditation. He had interviews with Deepak Shopra, the Dalai Lama and Eckhart Tolle himself.

After all of this Harris came up with what he calls “The Way of the Warrior”, these are 10 rules that he lives by. They are:

1 . Don’t Be a Jerk

2 . ( And / But . . . ) When Necessary , Hide the Zen

3 . Meditate

4 . The Price of Security Is Insecurity — Until It’s Not Useful

5 . Equanimity Is Not the Enemy of Creativity

6 . Don’t Force It

7 . Humility Prevents Humiliation

8 . Go Easy with the Internal Cattle Prod

9 . Non attachment to Results

10 . What Matters Most ?

The following is a short excerpt of each point from his book:

1.Don’t be a Jerk

“The virtuous cycle that Joseph described ( more metta , better decisions , more happiness , and so on ) is real . To boot , compassion has the strategic benefit of winning you allies . And then there’s the small matter of the fact that it makes you a vastly more fulfilled person.”

 

  1. When necessary, hide the Zen

“Be nice , but don’t be a palooka . Even though I’d achieved a degree of freedom from the ego , I still had to operate in a tough professional context . Sometimes you need to compete aggressively , plead your own case , or even have a sharp word with someone . It’s not easy , but it’s possible to do this calmly and without making the whole thing overly personal.”

 

  1. Meditate

“The practice has countless benefits—from better health to increased focus to a deeper sense of calm—but the biggie is the ability to respond instead of react to your impulses and urges. We live our life propelled by desire and aversion. In meditation, instead of succumbing to these deeply rooted habits of mind, you are simply watching what comes up in your head nonjudgmentally.”

 

  1. The price of security is insecurity – until its not useful

“Mindfulness proved a great mental thresher for separating wheat from chaff , for figuring out when my worrying was worthwhile and when it was pointless . Vigilance , diligence , the setting of audacious goals — these are all the good parts of “ insecurity . ”

 

“Hunger and perfectionism are powerful energies to harness . Even the much – maligned “ comparing mind ” can be useful . I compared myself to Joseph , Mark , and Sharon , and it made me happier . I compared myself to Bianca and it made me nicer . I compared myself to Bill Weir , David Muir , Chris Cuomo , David Wright , et al . , and it upped my game . In my view , Buddhists underplay the utility of constructive anguish . In one of his dharma talks , I heard Joseph quote a monk who said something like , “ There’s no point in being unhappy about things you can’t change , and no point being unhappy about things you can . ” To me , this gave short shrift to the broad gray area where it pays to wring your hands at least a little bit .”

 

  1. Equanimity is not the enemy of creativity

“Being happier did not , as many fear , make me a blissed – out zombie .”

“I found that rather than rendering me boringly problem-free, mindfulness made me, as an eminent spiritual teacher once said, “a connoisseur of my neuroses.” One of the most interesting discoveries of this whole journey was that I didn’t need my demons to fuel my drive—and that taming them was a more satisfying exercise than indulging them.”

 

  1. Don’t Force it

“A slight relaxation served me well on the set of GMA, in interpersonal interactions, and when I was writing scripts. I came to see the benefits of purposeful pauses, and the embracing of ambiguity. It didn’t work every time, mind you, but it was better than my old technique of bulldozing my way to an answer.”

 

  1. Humility prevents humiliation

“For me humility was a relief , the opposite of humiliation . It sanded the edges off of the comparing mind . Of course , striking the right balance is delicate ; it is possible to take this too far and become a pushover .”

 

  1. Go easy with the internal cattle prod

“However , research shows that “ firm but kind ” is the smarter play . People trained in self – compassion meditation are more likely to quit smoking and stick to a diet . They are better able to bounce back from missteps . All successful people fail . If you can create an inner environment where your mistakes are forgiven and flaws are candidly confronted , your resilience expands exponentially .”

 

  1. Non attachment to results

“Nonattachment to results + self compassion = a supple relentlessness that is hard to match . Push hard , play to win , but don’t assume the fetal position if things don’t go your way . This , I came to believe , is what T . S . Eliot meant when he talked about learning “ to care and not to care . ”

 

  1. What matters most

“A useful mantra in those moments is ‘ What matters most ? ’ ” At first , this struck me as somewhat generic , but as I sat with the idea for a while , it eventually emerged as the bottom – line , gut – check precept . When worrying about the future , I learned to ask myself : What do I really want ? While I still loved the idea of success , I realized there was only so much suffering I was willing to endure . What I really wanted was aptly summed up during an interview I once did with Robert Schneider , the self – described “ spastic ” lead singer for the psych – pop group , Apples in Stereo . He was one of the happiest – seeming people I’d ever met : constantly chatting , perpetually in motion — he just radiated curiosity and enthusiasm . Toward the end of our interview , he said , “ The most important thing to me is probably , like , being kind and also trying to do something awesome . ”

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is curious about meditation. Harris writes in a very light and easy to read style and pokes fun at himself a lot.

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