30. 10% Happier – Chapter 6 Part 2

First of all, pretty crazy that I have made it to 30 blog posts – gold star for me.

From www.amazon.com
From http://www.amazon.com

The rest of Chapter Six was more of Harris educating himself on meditation and mindfulness.

  • Two job opportunities came up, and the first thing he did was come up with all of the worst case scenarios.
    • As I have said before, this is my go-to response to uncertainty. But I am learning the need to combat that.
  • He had a job interview for these two new roles, but was given no certainty about the outcome. Harris saw this uncertainty as a good chance to practice mindfulness. He was still struggling with the idea of not focusing fully on his uncertainties, because he still had a belief that looking at a problem from every angle could give him some kind of edge. At the same time, he also realised that continued worrying could give him a mental breakdown
  • Harris Booked himself into a 3 day Buddhist conference
    • Mark Epstein was one of the speakers
    • Talked about the power of negative thinking, that examining the negative thoughts and being mindful of them could be liberating
    • Another of the speakers Tara Brach spoke about a technique of Mindfulness with the acronym RAIN:
      • R: Recognise
      • A: Allow
      • I: Investigate
      • N: Non-identification
    • So for Harris’ job offer situation, recognize meant to acknowledge his feelings and allow meant to let it be, or let it go. Investigate was to think about how the feelings are affecting the body e.g. hot face, fast beating heart, sweat. Lastly, non-identification meant realising that the feelings of fear or worry were passing states of mind, not forever parts of personality.
  • He met again with Mark Epstein and he talked about the idea of responding (after being mindful), not reacting (mindlessness) to situations and people.
  • Epstein suggested that he went on a ten-day silent retreat to practice meditation, because mindfulness was a skill that could improve with time. He recommended that he went to a retreat with a teacher called Joseph Goldstein (this retreat was so popular that they had a lottery system).
  • Around the same time he found out he hadn’t got one of the two jobs, and that it was uncertain when he would find out about the second job.

So this chapter finishes with the scenario where Harris has got into the 10 day retreat, and is in a state of uncertainty with his future job prospects (he calls it purgatory).

I am really enjoying reading this book because I find that certain things I am thinking and discovering are very similar to the journey that Harris is on. My blog post 29 fits in really well with the ideas that Harris is grappling with at this part of the book. Sometimes it is just refreshing and calming to know that someone else out there is going through similar things as you.

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25. 10% Recap – Chapter Six- Meditation

From www.amazon.com
From http://www.amazon.com

In this chapter, Harris explores meditation.

Epstein was a proponent of meditation for taming the mind but Harris had no intention of doing that:

  • He had experience with kids yoga, forced upon him by parents
  • He pretty much imagined meditation to be every cliché of eastern philosophy rolled into one – bells, ‘ommmm’ hum noises, cross-legged positions and so on
  • He considered himself to have a low attention span

His therapist suggested he read book about the medical benefits of meditation. He found that it:

  • Decrease stress
  • Lower blood pressure

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23. 10% Recap + other random thoughts about life

From www.amazon.com
From http://www.amazon.com

So Chapter Five… (if anyone is actually reading this, bear in mind these are just my random thoughts/questions/ideas as I read this chapter)

  • Harris now began reading a book by a guy called Dr. Mark Epstein, a buddhist and psychiatrist.
  • According to this author, a lot of the ideas of these other self-help gurus actually came from the teaching of Buddha and ancient buddhist principles.

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20. 10% Recap – Chapter Four

From www.amazon.com
From http://www.amazon.com

In this chapter, Harris interviewed Deepak Chopra, who he described as “another self-help superstar.”

  • He didn’t find him particularly helpful and was sceptical of the genuine-ness of a lot of his claims.
  • He also met two of the people involved in “The Secret.” I remember hearing about this book from seeing it on Oprah at some point, and to be honest, it sounded like a load of rubbish to me – “Put out into the world what you want and you will get it…” – Um… no.
  • Harris was equally sceptical of “The Secret” authors and found, through meeting them, that he had real reasons to be. During the time he interviewed them, one of them was arrested for manslaughter.
  • He also got to meet some of the people who were “followers” of this way of thinking – poor people who were trying these philosophies and actually just getting into huge debt without any of “The Secret” success.

I am enjoying reading the journey that Harris is going through to find out how to tame the voices in his head. BUT I would like him to get to the part where he actually finds the solution sometime soon! Four Chapters down and he has crossed a lot of things off his list, but I don’t feel like he is much closer to finding any answers.

18. 10% Recap and Goals Update

From www.amazon.com
From http://www.amazon.com

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):

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13. 10% Happier – Chapter One

From www.amazon.com
From http://www.amazon.com

As I am reading the book: 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice In My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, And Found Self-Help That Actually Works – A True Story I thought it would be a useful exercise to take some notes about what I am learning from it, or what I want to remember. You can buy this book here.

Chapter One: 

  • It is refreshing to read a book where it is clear the author has left their ego at the door. Harris is honest about his intentions, his embarrassments, his flaws
    • I admire someone who can be that honest. It is how I am trying to be these days. 
  • He talks about how he had a head full of mindlessness – packed full with worry, fear, ambition, drive, regret, embarrassment, and a lot more.
    • I can relate to this. I may not be a TV reporter/anchor, but I have worked in industries where I felt the pressure (from myself and others) to always be “on”, to be busy, and pushing forward, and looking for the next promotion and the next advancement. My mind was full but I was not being mindful. 

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