28 Sep A conversation with Dan Harris about focus, happiness, and what we get wrong about meditation.
via Thrive Global by Jen Fisher
In 2004, Dan Harris was giving a news update on “Good Morning America” when he had a panic attack. Or, as he memorably put it in his account of the event, “I freaked out in front of five million people.” His search for what caused the episode, and for solutions to it, led him to meditation. And that led to writing his number one New York Times best seller, 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works—A True Story. He’s also the host of the podcast “Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris.”
Meditation is one of my favorite topics, so I was excited to have Harris as my guest on a recent episode of Deloitte’s “WorkWell” podcast. These are anxious times, and as someone who has struggled with anxiety since long before COVID, I’ve found meditation to be an incredibly valuable tool for managing stress and anxiety. If you suffer from anxiety, or you just want to manage your life more effectively and be — as Dan has now famously put it — 10% happier, this conversation is for you.
One of the things I love about Harris’s work is how he makes meditation so accessible. As he told me, that’s one of the reasons he wrote the book — to correct the myth that meditation is about making you “a unicorn barfing rainbows all the time.” In fact, before he started researching meditation, he thought it was “hippie nonsense.” But as he looked into the science of what meditation actually does — including lowering blood pressure, decreasing stress, and boosting our immune system — he became a convert.
I, too, am a reluctant meditator — though it’s an essential part of my well-being routine, it doesn’t come easily to me. I find myself constantly being distracted. And I think that’s what scares a lot of people off — they try it once, get distracted, and think they’ve failed. And that’s why I was particularly taken with the way Harris explained the process — as he put it, “noticing the distraction is proof that you’re a success.” So it’s not about not being distracted, it’s about the course-correction. “Every time you get distracted, you notice it, blow it a kiss, and start again and again and again, and you have to do this a million times,” he told me. “It’s like a bicep curl for your brain.”
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