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Training My Mind to Be 10% Happier

15 August 2017

Janie read 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, by Dan Harris, and was excited to read a book about meditation that was written for meditation skeptics.

Tags: happiness, janie read, mindfulness

Meditation is a practice that I have read about for many years, but it took me a long time to give it a try myself. I’d heard of all the benefits, and I even knew people who used meditation as a regular tool to reduce stress, but I didn’t believe it would work for me. One day, mostly out of curiosity, I picked up a copy of 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 didn’t expect that I would want to read the whole book; let alone that I would finish reading it in only a few days. This is not the first meditation book I’ve picked up, but typically, I lose interest and never finish reading. That was not the case this time. Harris’ tone grabbed me from the first page, and I found myself laughing aloud numerous times while I read. Harris has said that he wrote 10% Happier because when he was getting started he couldn’t find many introductory books that were geared towards skeptics, so he decided to write one. I’m so glad he did, because this book is what convinced me to finally try meditation.

For me, meditation helps me to silence my inner critic. When I’m feeling anxious or stressed, the inner dialogue that runs through my mind can be quite vicious. Most (if not all) of these thoughts are not based on truth, but when I’m feeling anxious, it’s not always easy for me to recognize that the voice in my head is wrong. Over time, I’ve recognized that my inner critic tends to yell at me the loudest when I’m feeling really overwhelmed, or when I haven’t slept well for a few days. I’ve learned that forcing myself to take slow, deep breaths during these times can have an almost immediate calming effect.

Harris shares that “…if you do the right amount of reps, certain things will happen, reliably and predictably. One of those things, according to the research, is that your brain will change in positive ways. You will get better at not being carried away by your passing emotional squalls; you will learn—maybe 10% of the time, maybe more—to respond, not react.” It has been my experience that Harris is correct. The more I practice, the easier it is for me to quiet my inner critic. She’s still there, but that doesn’t mean I have to listen to her.

Have you tried meditation? If, like me, you’ve been interested in the concept, but are skeptical that it could help, I encourage you to read 10% Happier. Giving meditation a try has made a huge difference in my life.


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