10% Happier – Dan Harris

“I knew this wouldn’t last and I was wringing every bit of pleasure out of it while I could,” said Dan Harris.

Do you ever think about what is more exciting to you? Reality or memory? I wish I could say reality, but it’s probably a memory for me.

Staying in the present is the main message I learned from Harris’s 10% Happier. The habit of worrying, which Harris characterized as a useless process of projecting fearfully into an imaginary future. He said there is no way you can cope with such a situation because it doesn’t exist. It’s a mental phantom.

I have always been skeptical about meditation due to personal reasons but I do like the way Harris has portrayed it in this book. He says that meditation makes him 10% happier. But like anything else, meditation takes practice and time. To be honest, I think we all have a voice in our heads – the one that has us losing our temper unnecessarily, checking our phone compulsively, eating when we’re not hungry, or fixating on the past or the future at the expense of the present. Harris writes about how most of us would assume we’re stuck with this voice – that there’s nothing we can do to rein it in – but that’s not true.

After learning that meditation can do everything from lowering your blood pressure to essentially rewiring your brain, Harris took a deep dive into the underreported world of CEOs, scientists, and even marines who are now using it for increased calm, focus, and happiness. Like I said though, it takes practice and I’m not a 100% believer yet but for the chance to feel 10% happier and to learn how to be in the present, maybe?

Highlights

  1. Wherever you go, there you are.
  2. I can’t be free of thinking, which is more thinking. How do you break out of that? You simply observe that it’s another thought. By knowing that it’s another thought, you’re not totally identified with the thought.
  3. Make the present moment your friend rather than your enemy. Because many people live habitually as if the present moment were an obstacle that they need to overcome in order to get to the next moment. And imagine living your life like that, where always this moment is never quite right, not good enough because you need to get to the next one. That is continuous stress.
  4. What made this different was that I was able to see my thoughts for what they were: just thoughts, with no concrete reality.
  5. It is entirely possible to be depressed without being conscious of it. When you’re cut off from your emotions, he said, they often manifest in your body.
  6. Soul of a junkie.
  7. The ego is constantly comparing itself to others. It has us measuring our self-worth against the looks, wealth, and social status of everyone else.
  8. When you have one foot in the future and the other in the past, you piss on the present.
  9. I first realized that the voice in my head was kind of an asshole.
  10. It’s not that my worry ceased, I just wasn’t as taken in by it. I recognized the truth of this situation.
  11. The habit of worrying, which he characterized as a useless process of projecting fearfully into an imaginary future. There is no way you can cope with such a situation because it doesn’t exist. It’s a mental phantom.
  12. If I didn’t think through every permutation of every potential problem, how the hell would I survive in a competitive industry?
  13. My chattering mind was not entirely working in my favor.
  14. Because I’m thinking all the time, I can’t be in touch with the Now, so now I’m feeling guilty about not being in touch with the Now.
  15. I accept what is. And that’s why life has become so simple.
  16. The most powerful change comes actually out of that different state of consciousness.
  17. When you’re totally present, whatever the situation is, good or bad, it’s gonna pass. The only thing that remains is the moment.
  18. If you stay in the moment, you’ll have what is called spontaneous right action, which is intuitive, which is creative, which is visionary, which eavesdrops on the mind of the universe.
  19. Even Freud himself had conceded that the best therapy could do was bring us from “hysteric misery” to “common unhappiness.”
  20. The route to true happiness was to achieve a visceral understanding of impermanence, which would take you off the emotional roller coaster and allow you to see your dramas and desires through a wider lens.
  21. If there was no such thing as security, then why bother with the insecurity?
  22. Our minds are like furry little gibbons: always agitated, never at rest.
  23. I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.
  24. I knew this wouldn’t last and I was wringing every bit of pleasure out of it while I could.
  25. Despite its difficulties, though, meditation did offer something huge: an actual method for shutting down the monkey mind, if only for a moment.
  26. Mindfulness is the ability to recognize what is happening in your mind right now – anger, jealously, sadness, the pain of a stubbed love, whatever – without getting carried away by it.
  27. We have three habitual responses to everything we experience. We want it, reject it, or we zone out.
  28. He worried that if he became too happy, it would defang his angst and disable his ability to write music.
  29. Nothing is wrong with me.
  30. People come to me a lot feeling like they ought to be loving themselves, and I actually counsel against it.
  31. Mindfulness gives us a way to examine our self-hatred without trying to make it go away, without trying to love it particularly.
  32. The only way out is through.
  33. When you squelch something, you give it power. Ignorance is not bliss.
  34. RAIN: Recognize (simple to acknowledge my feelings), Allow (lean into it, let it be, offer the inner whisper of yes), Investigate (how my feelings are affecting my body), Non-Identification (just because I was feeling angry /jealous/fearful, that does not render me as an angry/jealous/fearful person; it’s just passing states of mind).
  35. The voice in my head, which I’d always taken so seriously, suddenly lost much of its authority.
  36. Seeing a problem clearly does not prevent you from taking action. Acceptance is not passivity. Sometimes we are justifiably displeased. What mindfulness does is create some space in your head so you can, “respond” rather than simply “react.”
  37. We spend a lot of time judging ourselves harshly for feelings we had no role in summoning. The only thing you can control is how you handle it.
  38. Sitting with your feelings won’t always solve your problems or make your feelings go away. But, it can make you stop acting blindly.
  39. When asked why he’s doing it, he said, because it feels so good when I stop.
  40. Everything in the world is ultimately unsatisfying and unreliable because it won’t last.
  41. How often are we waiting for the next pleasant hit of… whatever? The next meal or the next relationship or the next latte or the next vacation, I don’t know. We just live in anticipation of the next enjoyable thing that we’ll experience.
  42. It’s okay to worry, plot, and plan, but only until it’s not useful anymore. I’ve spent the better part of my life trying to balance my penchant for maniacal overthinking with the desire for peace of mind.
  43. We live so much of our lives pushed forward by these “if only” thoughts, and yet the itch remains. The pursuit of happiness becomes the source of our unhappiness.
  44. Pausing could be a key ingredient in creativity and innovation.
  45. Let your unconscious mind go to work, making connections from disparate parts of the brain.
  46. In the 1950s, if you had told people you were going running, they would have asked who was chasing you.
  47. Practice for the development of concern for the well-being of others actually is an immense benefit to oneself.
  48. Be wise selfish rather than foolish selfish.
  49. It’s not that I never got annoyed anymore. In fact, when you’re mindful, you actually feel irritation more keenly. However, once you unburden yourself from the delusion that people are deliberately trying to screw you, it’s easier to stop getting carried away.
  50. Everyone wants the same thing – happiness – but we all go about it with varying levels of skill.
  51. Don’t confuse letting go with going soft.
  52. People will take advantage of you if they’re reading you as too Zen.
  53. You can do your best and then, if things don’t go your way, still become constructively upset, in a way that hinders your ability to bounce back. Dropping the attachment is the real trick.
  54. There’s no point in being unhappy about things you can’t change, and no point being unhappy about things you can.
  55. Mindfulness now does a pretty good job of tying up the voice and putting duct tape over its mouth.
  56. Learning to care and not to care, at least 10% of the time, has freed me up to focus more on the parts of the job that matter most.
  57. My happiness is much more self-generated.
There's no point in being unhappy about things you can't change, and no point being unhappy about things you can.
*I take no credit for any of these points.

Recommend me a book

No horror books, please!!