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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

Dan Harris


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Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (3/10/2014)
Hardcover (3/11/2014)
Compact Disc (3/11/2014)
Compact Disc (3/11/2014)


#1 New York Times Bestseller

"An enormously smart, clear-eyed, brave-hearted, and quite personal look at the benefits of meditation." —Elizabeth Gilbert

Nightline anchor Dan Harris embarks on an unexpected, hilarious, and deeply skeptical odyssey through the strange worlds of spirituality and self-help, and discovers a way to get happier that is truly achievable.

After having a nationally televised panic attack, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists. Eventually, Harris realized that the source of his problems was the very thing he always thought was his greatest asset: the incessant, insatiable voice in his head, which had propelled him through the ranks of a hypercompetitive business, but had also led him to make the profoundly stupid decisions that provoked his on-air freak-out.

Finally, Harris stumbled upon an effective way to rein in that voice, something he always assumed to be either impossible or useless: meditation, a tool that research suggests can do everything from lower your blood pressure to essentially rewire your brain. 10% Happier takes readers on a ride from the outer reaches of neuroscience to the inner sanctum of network news to the bizarre fringes of America’s spiritual scene, and leaves them with a takeaway that could actually change their lives.

This paperback edition is revised with new material. 

Praise For 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

Startling, provocative, and often very funny . . . [10% HAPPIER] will convince even the most skeptical reader of meditation’s potential. — Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project

10% HAPPIER is hands down the best book on meditation for the uninitiated, the skeptical, or the merely curious. . . . an insightful, engaging, and hilarious tour of the mind’s darker corners and what we can do to find a bit of peace. — Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence and Focus

The science supporting the health benefits of meditation continues to grow as does the number of Americans who count themselves as practitioners but, it took reading 10% HAPPIER to make me actually want to give it a try. — Richard E. Besser, M.D., Chief Health and Medical Editor, ABC News

An enormously smart, clear-eyed, brave-hearted, and quite personal look at the benefits of meditation that offers new insights as to how this ancient practice can help modern lives while avoiding the pitfall of cliché. This is a book that will help people, simply put. — Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

This brilliant, humble, funny story shows how one man found a way to navigate the non-stop stresses and demands of modern life and back to humanity by finally learning to sit around doing nothing. — Colin Beavan, author of No Impact Man

“In 10% Happier, Dan Harris describes in fascinating detail the stresses of working as a news correspondent and the relief he has found through the practice of meditation. This is an extremely brave, funny, and insightful book. Every ambitious person should read it.” — Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith

A compellingly honest, delightfully interesting, and at times heart-warming story of one highly intelligent man’s life-changing journey towards a deeper understanding of what makes us our very best selves. As Dan’s meditation practice deepens, I look forward to him being at least 11% happier, or more. — Chade-Meng Tan, author of Search Inside Yourself

10% Happier is a spiritual adventure from a master storyteller. Mindfulness can make you happier. Read this to find out how. — George Stephanopoulos

Part-science, part-memoir, and part self-help, Harris outlines specific ways he learned to, well, chill the f#%k out. — GQ

“A self-help guide even skeptics will embrace . . . Harris crushes stereotypes about meditation and recounts how it slashed his stress and quieted his anxious mind.” — Parade

Revealing . . . I’d recommend this to anyone. — USA Today, Pop Candy

Harris never loses his sense of humor as he affably spotlights one man’s quest for internal serenity while concurrently navigating the slings and arrows of a hard-won career in the contemporary media spotlight. Friendly, practical advocacy for the power of mindfulness and enlightenment. — Kirkus Reviews

Harris’s journey of discovery brought back lessons for all of us about our lives, too. — Diane Sawyer

“Lively . . . part reporting, part personal experience . . . By letting us hear the voice in his head - before and after he starts meditating—Harris makes a convincing case that if he can do it, we can, too.” — Richmond Times-Dispatch

Nightline co-anchor Dan Harris is an unlikely ambassador for mindfulness, but his new book . . . might be just the thing that gets people to unplug and recognize that all this multitasking is making us miserable and unhealthy. — xoJane

Dey Street Books, 9780062265432, 256pp.

Publication Date: December 30, 2014

About the Author

Dan Harris is the coanchor of Nightline and the weekend editions of Good Morning America. He regularly reports for 20/20, World News with Diane Sawyer, and the weekday editions of Good Morning America. Before joining ABC News fourteen years ago, he worked for local news outlets in Boston and Maine. He lives with his wife, Bianca, in New York City. This is his first book.

Conversation Starters from

Dan Harris opens 10% Happier by talking about the destructive chatter of the voice in his head. What is your internal narrator like? Describe your inner voice. How does the voice influence your day and how you react to events?

Dan admits that he initially thought mediation was silly, new-agey nonsense. What factors and events change his opinion? Why does he finally attempt meditation, and what led him to fully embrace it? Trace his arc, from before his panic attacks to where he is today. How did meditation help him tame his inner voice?

Throughout the book, Harris talks about the ego. “The ego is constantly comparing itself to others.” What is ego? How does ego contribute to our success and our unhappiness?

“The pursuit of happiness becomes the source of our unhappiness.” What message is Harris conveying with this sentence? Do you agree? How do you define happiness? Are we a culture that places too much emphasis on being happy? Or are we just going about it the wrong way? What made Dan unhappy in his life? How did meditation help him achieve “10% more happiness”? How could it help you?

Meditation is about becoming more mindful. Describe mindfulness and how can it be beneficial. Dan writes that mindfulness is “an alternative to living reactively.” Expand on this statement. How does one live reactively? Were you surprised by the number of mainstream organizations Dan mentions that have adopted meditation?

A big part of mindfulness is about being present. Dan admits, “I was a pro at avoiding the present.” Why is it difficult for so many people to be present — to be in the moment? Take a few minutes with your group to focus on the moment. Share what you are all feeling—the sensations you experience in your body, the noises you may hear around you, what you notice about the space and the people around you. Dan calls mindfulness a “superpower.” Do you think that it is? Do you believe that mindfulness can change the world?

Midway through the book, Dan describes his first retreat. Discuss that experience and what he learned from it. Have you ever been on a retreat, and if not, would you be interested in attending one? Could you go with little conversation and no outside stimulants—books, television, the Internet—for a week or two?

Dan also discusses compassion and the practice of metta—loving-kindness meditation. Why is metta initially difficult for him? Consider our society today. Do you think we are lacking in compassion? If so why? Why is the notion of caring sometimes sneered at or dismissed? Have you ever been accused of “caring too much?” Are Americans too cynical today? How do we overcome cynicism? How can we encourage people to become more compassionate? Think about your day. Did you experience any acts of compassion or kindness—either an act you precipitated or one you received?

Dan often talks about being skeptical. Is skepticism a good thing? What is the difference between skepticism and cynicism? When is skepticism productive and when is it negative? How does Dan overcome his skepticism throughout the book, whether to meditation, metta, or the idea of enlightenment itself? What is enlightenment? Think about Buddhism and the period of western history know as the Enlightenment. Are they connected?

Were you skeptical about meditation before you read 10% Happier? How did you feel after finishing the book? What influenced your opinion? Dan uses an unscientific but intriguingly doable estimate—meditation makes his life 10% happier—to help spread his message about the benefits of meditation to unbelievers. If his message resonates with you, how would you address skeptics to read his book?

Throughout the book, Harris mentions various authors he has read, met, and interviewed, including Eckharte Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and Joseph Goldstein. Before reading 10% Happier, had you heard of these other authors or read their books? If not, are you interested in exploring their works now?

In the preface, Harris writes, “What I’m attempting to do in this book is demystify meditation, and show that if it can work for me, it can probably work for you, too.” Does he succeed? While reading the book—or having finished it—have to you tried to meditate? If so, talk about your experiences. If not, discuss what is holding you back.

What did you take away from reading 10% Happier?

Coverage from NPR