Book Report: 10% Happier by Dan Harris
In this episode 009, we check in to see how our meditation challenge is going and then we dig right into this month’s book related to mindfulness and meditation by discussing Dan Harris’s book 10% Happier in our Book Report!
Tune in and Listen Below
What You’ll Hear (and don’t want to miss!)
1:11: We update how the monthly challenge is going and Peggy describes a meditation setback and Jennie lets us know about her fantastic meditation streak and that this habit isn’t always easy….but it’s worth it.
6:36: We start discussing our book for this month which is 10% Happier by Dan Harris. We used some book club questions to help stimulate conversation about the book.
7:40: Question 1: 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? Peggy describes some of her self talk that gives her calm in busy, overwhelming times. Jenny gives an overview of what many people may resonate with as their internal narrator or voice.
15:46: Question 2: 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? We basically recap what happened in the book here. Jenny then describes how her experience learning to meditate was, in some ways, similar to Dan’s.
21:01: Question 3: 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? We talk about what Tolle means when he describes the ego.
24:59: Question 4: “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?
30:29: Question 5: 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?
32:44: Question 6: 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?
35:15: Question 7. 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? We discuss whether or not we could do this kind of retreat.
37:47: Question 8. 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? Peggy shares a great quote from Dan Harris about his skeptical first take on meditation. We also discuss the difference between skepticism and cynicism.
41:38: Question 9: 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. If you tried meditation for the first time after reading this book or listening to our podcast, we want to hear about it. Let us know!!
43:08: Question 10: What did you take away from reading 10% HAPPIER? Jenny and I wrap up our final thoughts on the book.
44:34: We wrap it up for this week and remind you to keep it up with your meditation, not only for the last few days of this month and challenge but hopefully….forever!!. Also, we are thinking about what’s coming up for our next challenge in September.
Resources + Links Mentioned in This Episode:
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Book: 10 % Happier by Dan Harris
Book: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
Movie: The Wizard of Oz
Song: Soak Up The Sun by Sheryl Crow
Podcast: The Minimalists
Book: Meditation for Fidegty Skeptics by Dan Harris
“Our entire lives are governed by a voice in our heads. This voice is engaged in a ceaseless stream of thinking- most of it negative, repetitive and self referential. It squawks away at us from the minute we open our eyes in the morning until the minute we fall asleep at night, if it allows us to sleep at all. Talk, talk, talk: The voice is constantly judging and labeling everything in its field of vision. Its targets aren’t just external: it often viciously taunts us too” – Peggy quoting Eckhart Tolle
The ego, according to Tolle, is the inner narrator; the sense of ‘I’. When we are unaware of this voice, we blindly act out our thoughts and often the results are not pretty. The ego is never satisfied. No matter what we buy, consume or have, the ego never feels complete. It has us measuring ourselves against others’ looks, wealth social status and success. The ego thrives on drama. The ego is obsessed with the past and the future at the expense of the present. We live almost exclusively through memory and anticipation. But…that doesn’t work to find happiness because it is, quite literally, always NOW. The present moment is all we have.-Peggy relaying Tolle’s definition of the ego
“When you’re totally present, whatever the situation is, good or bad, it’s gonna pass. The only thing that remains is the moment. It’s the transformational vortex to the infinite.” -Peggy quoting Deepak Chopra
“Ego is anytime we feel like more or less. Anything that makes us feel better than or less than….that is the ego. If you are feeling superior to someone and you are kind of, high on yourself, that is your ego. If you are feeling down on yourself and less than…that is your ego” –Jenny discussing her thoughts on the ego.
“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 whole 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”– Peggy quoting Tolle’s answer to Dan Harris’ question about staying in the present.
“Meditation struck me as the distillation of everything that sucked hardest about the granola lifestyle. I pictured myself seated in an unbearable cross-legged position in a room that smelled like feet, with a group of smug ‘practitioners’ ringing bells, ogling crystals, intoning om and attempting to float off into some sort of cosmic goo.’” –Peggy quoting Dan Harris’ initial skeptical take on meditation.
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What was your biggest takeaway or insight from this episode? Have you been joining us and meditating along this month? We want to know if you played along and we are also super curious to know if you are a first time meditator and what your experience was. Leave us a comment or just come and say ‘Hi’ on the socials. I’m on Instagram and Twitter and Jenny is on Twitter. You can always get our attention by using the hashtag #TheImprovementProject
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The Improvement Project podcast is hosted by Dr. Peggy Malone and Jenny Couse. Peggy is a health care provider who encourages her patients every day to create better habits associated with their health and wellness. She is wife to John and mom to fur baby Calvin the fat orange cat. Dr. Peggy is also a human being on a mission to create better habits for herself and by doing so, she hopes to inspire others to take up the challenge with her! Jenny is a marketing professional in the international trade sector. She and her husband Jeff are parents to hilarious 5 year old Ethan. Her year of monthly habit resolutions in 2015 piqued her interests in how habits are created and best kept.
Join them weekly to explore how to create healthy habits that stick on the journey to becoming better humans!
Until next time,
Let’s get to work on improving your most important project. That’s YOU! Stay focused and get after it!
Thank you so much for listening.
Peggy and Jenny