Anybody that knows me can attest to the fact that I am a dedicated skeptic. I suffer no fools lecturing me about politics, religion, spirituality, the supernatural, conspiracies, medical wankery, and all the above cornucopia of silliness. When people start talking about any of the above I have to use every shred of willpower not to say something rude, offensive, or condescending.
I hold the most contempt for New Age wishy washy hippy nonsense mixed in a toilet bowl of Namaste and incense. Hinduism, Buddhism, Nirvana, reincarnation, the Dali Lama, Tibet, Karma and all of the above tend to give me hives, or at least a visible nervous eye twitch.
My work is stressful, I’m about to begin a move across the world, day to day life in the city is stressful, on and on. Sometimes I have a hard time relaxing, turning off my mind, not worrying about everything that needs to be done, tomorrow, next week, and next month. I am a hardcore believer in self education. If I don’t know something I find a book about it, watch an instructional video, research and practice until I am somewhat competent. So my realization that I no longer handle stress well and my belief in learning led me to seeking out books about meditation, stress, etc.
By biggest fear was that I would come across every stupid “zen” magic, scam artist, woo medicine, Oprah bookclub, snake oil salesman, bullshit peddler crystal healing nonsense. I didn’t want to “tap into the spiritual outworld matrix vortex of self sufficiency,” Dr Ozz Dropaa style. Luckily for me the first book I came across and decided to read was Dan Harris’ 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.
Dan Harris is a reporter and news anchor for ABC’s Nightline. He’s had a long career in the reporting world doing everything from 9/11 coverage, Iraq, Afghanistan, politics, and everything in between for over a decade. His book, a nice blend of memoir and self help manual goes into detail about his journey with meditation and mindfulness.
Just like me Harris is a skeptic. He finds almost all of the self help gurus, spiritual supernatural stuff pure nonsense. Yet in all the nonsense he identifies and puts to use a lot of techniques that are backed by scientific studies to use. The best part about his book is that there is no bullshit claim or program stating that you will be 100% happier or you will open your mind to the riches of the universe. The only claim he makes is that after years of trying everything out, meditation and mindfulness has made him 10% happier.
Like I said at the beginning I am a skeptic and I predict I will remain so well into my old age. Yet, I will not deny the practical truths preached by some religions. I think that if you look deep enough and shed the supernatural nonsense you can find fantastic advice on life.
So in closing I highly recommend this book and hope you guys read it so we can talk about it. I’m also going to give a honest try to the whole daily meditation idea and see if I can manage at least a 5% increase in my own happiness.