Forget Becoming an Enlightened Being. How Does 10%...

Forget Becoming an Enlightened Being. How Does 10% Happier Sound?

There’s this book I came across and I loved it so much, I wanted to share it with you. It’s called 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.

I actually listened to the audiobook version which is read by the author, Dan Harris himself and found it to be highly entertaining. The author alternates between making self-deprecating comments to speaking his mind in a no holds barred kind of way.

But besides the entertainment value, why did I like it enough to want to share it? Harris provides a refreshing voice on why he meditates. Once a sceptic, after embarking on his own journey down the rabbit hole of the self-help / spirituality scene, he came to the conclusion that meditation helps him become a little bit happier. Like 10% happier, which if you would get that as a return on your investment is pretty good.

Now I have known for a while that there’s plenty of benefits to meditation and I have had almost like a Yo-Yo relationship with it. At times, I would be able to maintain it for weeks on end and then would allow myself to get swept up in the commotion of life that I just couldn’t justify taking time to sit still.

And perhaps, unconsciously there was another reason for my bailing out on meditation, and that was the lingering thought that people who meditated were more ‘enlightened’ beings. They should be slow to temper, have wise insights and generally not let the day-to-day pressures get to them. And this is where it gets messy. I could never resonate with that identity. I still felt very much human after my meditation sessions. Maybe there was the occasional insight (which makes sense if you pause to reflect on stuff) but it was nowhere the feeling that I was now free from any type of worry or busy mind.

That’s why reading Dan Harris’ book felt so refreshing. Because it’s not about setting the bar so high that you don’t want to try at all. It’s about setting the bar low. Even if you just take a minute where you take a step back from overly identifying with your thoughts and become the observer of your thoughts instead. That’s really what meditation is to me. A moment to recognise that while my thoughts serve a purpose, I often loop those thoughts far more than necessary.

And despite knowing that, I still can get caught up in it all. I can still take something someone said personally, rather than see that they might be battling their own struggles. Or to become reactive to the seemingly urgent things of the day rather than focus on what actually matters.

The only difference is that now I know that all I need sometimes is to take a small step back from the fast pace of my everyday life and its never-ending ebb of thoughts. It’s then when I realise that I’m so much more than the never-ending voice inside my head. And it’s that perspective that allows me to connect with a lightness to it all.

To be able to have a laugh at myself and in so doing go through my day a little bit happier.