Book Review: 10% Happier by Dan Harris

It is a bit unorthodox for us to write book review about meditation.  But spring is in the air and we’re all ready to break out of our usual routines up here in Minnesota!  So here goes…

Dan Harris is an ABC newscaster who got his start under Peter Jennings and has had some very stressful reporting assignments including 9/11 and the war in Iraq.  He is a very smart, talented individual and newscasters are known for being very “just the facts,” data-driven people.  So I was intrigued to learn Dan Harris had written a book on the benefits of meditation.

The practice of meditation can still hold connotations of being “woo-woo,” as Dan puts it.  In fact, the reason he came up with the title “10% Happier” for his book is because he got tired of the quizzical looks people gave him when he started talking about meditation.  When he stated that he meditated because “it made him 10% happier,” he seemed to gain more credibility with his audience.

So how did Dan discover meditation?  Peter Jennings assigned him to cover the general topic of religion which led him to interview individuals like Eckhart Tolle and Deepak Chopra who advocated living in the present – mindfulness – rather than worrying about the past or future.  Dan’s wife recommended he meet a respected psychiatrist named Mark Epstein who used mindfulness in his work with clients.  Gradually Dan started to meditate on a daily basis and found that he became less reactive in emotionally charged stressful situations.  His path eventually led to a meditation retreat which was very transformational for him.

In winding down his book, Harris gives instructions on how to start a mindfulness meditation practice.  He discusses how medical research now supports meditation as helpful for a number of major health issues such as high blood pressure. CEO’s, scientists and a number of celebrities now meditate to increase their levels of calm, happiness and focus.   A recent Minneapolis Star Tribune article states General Mills is a pioneer in bringing “mindfulness,” or meditation, to the workplace.  Other large Minnesota companies including Target, the Mayo Clinic and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans have some sort of meditation offering for employees.

Additional Resources:

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn is the Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  Here is his brief YouTube video on the health benefits of meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjXXvtGEZQQ

For free guided mindfulness meditations, check this website: http://www.freemindfulness.org/download

We know our students lead very busy lives filled with school and career demands.  Meditation can be a great stress-reduction strategy so I hope you find this information helpful.

Written by Senior Director of Career Services Lisa Cook

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