I have been continuing reading the book 10% Happier and I am really enjoying it. He is coming at the ideas of Mindfulness and Meditation from the same kind of viewpoint as me – skepticism – and it is interesting to see his journey unfold. Plus I appreciate how brutally honest he is.
Just briefly, in Chapter 2 he talked about meeting a Christian minister in the USA and building a good rapport with him, and then seeing his spectacular fall from grace. What he found interesting in talking with the minister after the fall from grace was that he kept his faith in God. I am a Christian and you could say I have had my own fall from grace, and I have also found that having a faith to hold onto has been helpful. As Dan Harris was saying, he always looked at Christians as lesser people, especially in terms of their intelligence, but he was able to see how faith could be of real benefit, especially during hard times.
In Chapter 3, Harris hears about an author called Eckhart Tolle, who has written book and spirituality and inner transformation. He is very skeptical of everything to do with this, but manages to get an interview with Tolle, where he finds that a lot of what Tolle has to say makes sense. Some of the things I found interesting were (some of these are direct quotes from the book):
- Tolle explained that our entire lives are governed by a voice in our head – a ceaseless stream of thinking – most of it negative, repetitive and self-referential, from the moment we wake up in the morning until we fall asleep.
- Even though that internal voice is such a big part of our mind, most people take it for granted and blindly act on our thoughts. I can definitely relate to this. How many times, if I spent a bit of time thinking about a thought pattern, or an action, would I have decided not to follow through with it? How many times if I thought to myself, “What would I suggest if someone else was having this thought pattern?” would I/could I have taken control of my negativity?
- One thing I found VERY interesting is Tolle explained that our inner voice is obsessed with the past and the future, at the expense of the present. Instead we are living life through memory and anticipation.
- Tolle explained that the present moment is all we’ve got. We experienced the past through the present moment and we will experience everything in the future in the same way. Harris admits that he was an expert at avoiding the present – and admission I can make as well. I don’t think I have avoided the present on purpose as such, but I have let the past and future dictate my life so much that I have constantly looked backwards or forwards instead of being in the here and now.
- Worrying about the future isn’t irrational, but the worries you have aren’t necessarily true. They are just thoughts with no concrete reality. Reflexively believing the worst about future situations isn’t going to help.
Harris didn’t think that everything Tolle said was perfect – in fact there were still lots of things that Tolle said that he thought could go into the “weirdo” category.
- What Harris thought was missing was any practical solution for how to combat the inner mind. He wanted to know how to do a better job of staying in the now.
From the sounds of it, these questions will be explored further in chapter four.
I really do recommend checking this book out. You can get it on Amazon here.
I am really please with how my goals are doing. I am three days down since my new goals, and I have managed to have success with all of them. I am getting outside to do exercise, I am managing to find time for meditation and yoga, and I am making better food choices and enjoying my time with my family. My journalling, through this blog, is going well and I am finding it a useful way to process life. The aim is that, no matter what life throws at me, I will keep these goals up – and not be a quitter.