Hardened spirituality skeptic Dan Harris set out on a quest to tame his mind, stumbling upon meditation to find to his shock he actually felt more calm and in control. He decided to share his discovery with the world, starting with better understanding the science of meditation so he could convince fellow skeptics to join the meditation band wagon. Readers are taken on a journey through self help and science through interviews with self help experts, the military and the scientific community to better understand why meditation is so effective and how they can also reap the benefits.
My key Takeaways from “10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found a Self-Help That Actually Works" by Dan Harris
Takeaway #1 Manage Your Ego To Manage Your Life
For most people, the ego is a source of self-serving behavior that is unconcerned with the welfare of others. It's the place of pride, conceit, and supposedly self love. It balances our morality and our base desires. It's the voice in our head that comments on our actions. It thrives on negative emotions and is never perfectly happy or content, always wanting more, always assessing, always dwelling on past events or dreaming of the future. It must be tamed so that a happier, healthier life can be enjoyed.
Takeaway #2 Use Meditation to Achieve Mindfulness and Manage Your Ego
Mindfulness can be found through meditation, the simple act of sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing, drawing your mind back to your breathing when it wanders off. It gives us a chance to lower the blood pressure, lower our stress levels, leave the panic and worry behind and can be very beneficial for people battling depression, addiction, and many other health issues.
Being mindful allows you to be non-judgmental, to respond rather than react to surroundings, loved ones, and impulses by remaining in the present moment. It allows you to ask how you can improve your behavior rather than lashing out in anger because you feel attacked or threatened. Being more mindful improves decision making, improves compassion toward others, makes you more creative and productive and actually changes your biology.
Takeaway #3 Accepting Your Negative Emotions Will Tame Your Ego
You might think that you need to avoid negative thoughts and emotions at all costs if you want to tame your ego but the opposite is true. Acknowledge the feelings and simply let them be – Admit that you're feeling them, don't try to hide or run away from feeling angry or sad and don't judge yourself for feeling that way. The fastest way to let go of these negative emotions is to ride them out. First, you must recognize the feeling for what it is – Get specific and allow yourself to feel it, it's natural to feel worried or sorrowful sometimes. Then identify how this feeling is manifesting in your body, is it a tightness, a feeling in your stomach or chest, has your breathing become faster? Notice what the feeling feels like, and then practice non-identification with the feeling. Know that it will pass, that you won't feel this way forever.