If you want to know how the author became 10% happier without reading the book, I can tell you in one word: meditation. Wait! I can feel you wanting to click away, but hear me out. If you are a skeptic who thinks meditation is a bunch of hooey, like I did, you might find this book especially insightful. The author, Dan Harris, is a prolific journalist for ABC and also an agnostic who doesn’t have a strong belief in a higher power, which makes him an interesting case study for the benefits of meditation. During Harris’ professional career he has done in-person interviews with three superstars of self-help: Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and the Dalai Lama. Harris is candid about what these people are really like, but he’s even more candid about himself: what led him to discover meditation and how exactly it helped him.
Dan Harris’ journey began in 2004 when he had a panic attack on live TV. This moment represented rock-bottom of a downward spiral for a man whose profession requires nothing less than a flawless presentation. With the help of a therapist, Harris discovered that his “self-medicating” with cocaine and ecstasy, as well as the flulike symptoms and lethargy he’d been feeling since returning from reporting in Iraq, was all linked to depression. From there, Harris began a personal odyssey to reel in his emotions and silence the overly-critical voice in his head, eventually stumbling onto meditation for lasting results.
Like many personal journeys, Harris’ was full of ups and downs, dead ends and epiphanies. Even if you’re not interested in meditation, this book is a fascinating read nonetheless and very well-written. Harris talks openly about many of the most controversial events he’s reported on over the years from the Iraq War to disgraced pastor Ted Haggard, which makes this book a surprising page-turner. And if by the end Harris has convinced you to try meditating, there’s an appendix with everything you need to know to get started.