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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9. Giving meditation a go

I will be honest. When it was first suggested to me that I give meditation a go, I thought of this:

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After doing a bit of research, and giving it a go, I have found that it is actually a lot less “loopy” than I first thought, and that I just needed to be a bit more open minded.

I have found that through meditating, I am able to have some “me” time, where I can relax and centre myself. Even typing the phrase “centre myself” makes me laugh, because if someone had said that in the past to me, I would have rolled my eyes and called them a hippie.

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7. My Own Man

As I have been thinking more about a couple of old boxes of mine – stuff to do with my Dad, and the idea of being a people pleaser/approval addiction/my identity, I came across a documentary with similar themes.

It has just been released on Netflix and is called, “My Own Man.”

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4. My dad

I don’t think much about my dad. I guess he has been in a box in my head. But since I am trying to open those boxes and getting things out, I should start with him.

In the past, when I have thought about my dad, I have felt sadness over him dying, anger at some of his actions, hurt over his bond with my brother and disappointment over how he would feel if he saw me now. So I have just kept him in a box and not thought about him.

My dad was a good man, but definitely not a perfect man. Having a dad with bipolar as interesting growing up, because it was hard to know what dad you were going to get – high as a kite dad, depressed dad, angry dad or quiet, reserved dad.

I can’t remember a heck of a lot do with growing up with my dad, but I do remember he coached my rugby team. I respect that because it took time and I was always proud that it was my dad who was our coach. The other boys in the team liked him and he was a good coach.

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3. How I learnt about boxes

Thinking back, I think I learnt the “benefit” of compartmentalising my life into boxes in my mind from an early age. I grew up in a family which from the outside looking in would be considered a model family. We were well off, relatively happy and I knew my parents loved me.

My dad was never very open with his emotions, and never really spoke them out – like a lot of guys really – so it’s not like I grew up with him saying “I love you son” all the time or anything. But implicitly I knew that he loved me. I guess my issue was that I saw the way he bonded with my brother over similar interests – sport and music – while I was into different things: computers, academia, reading and the arts. My dad never made me feel bad or ashamed about what I was interested in, but I craved the kind of bonding that he had with my brother.

But of course, I never said anything.

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1. Boxes

I have always been good at putting things in boxes – be it the stress or anger I am feeling, some kind of guilt or shame, or even grief. I have developed an excellent ability to put my feelings into a metaphorical box in my head, and soldier on. I think I learnt how to do this from a young age and I will most likely write about that another day, but what I learnt was, on the surface, it can work really well.

I appeared to be unflappable, dependable, together – but actually I was just the guy who didn’t really deal with things AT ALL. The problem with that is, after a while, those boxes get pretty jam packed with all the crap you are shoving in there, and they explode. And when that happens, you best not be standing anywhere near, because shit gets crazy.

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