10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works

by Dan Harris

Your mind can be your best friend, but it can also be your biggest enemy. It is not easy to tame the negative voice inside your head that keeps you from being truly happy, but it is possible. 10% Happier is the true story of a man who discovered how to cross the barriers keeping him from achieving happiness. It also promises to help you become 10 percent happier—this may not seem like a lot, but it is.

We have analyzed the book and compiled a list of actionable items from it that will help you become 10 percent happier, as well as increase your level of success and productivity. Most of these actions revolve around the theme of “mindfulness,” which is a simple concept that describes the quality of being aware of both yourself and your surroundings in the present moment. By implementing even one or two of the actions below into your daily routine, you will notice a marked increase in your happiness.

Summary Notes

Genius or Lunatic?

Make the present moment your friend rather than your enemy.

It isn’t easy to keep yourself from experiencing and indulging in negative emotions such as anger, annoyance, irritation, sadness, etc. However, these emotions only prolong a negative emotional pattern and keep you from being happy. Furthermore, these emotions aren’t always grounded in reality.

Engage in the present moment and accept whatever life hands you. Then, you will focus less on what you cannot control, and act on what you can.

Actions to take

The Power of Negative Thinking

Picture the mind like a waterfall: the water is the torrent of thoughts and emotions; mindfulness is the space behind the waterfall.

Mindfulness is the ability to recognize what is happening in your mind right now - anger, jealousy, sadness, pain, etc - without judgment. Once you master mindfulness, you will be able to sap the negative emotional charge out of your thoughts.

Actions to take


Even if we were handed everything we wanted, would it really make us sustainably happy?

Most of us are just looking for the next pleasant hit of anything - the next meal, the next relationship, the next vacation, etc. We stress ourselves out over what we want but do not have yet. However, these thoughts are useless as they do not actually help us in any way, and they keep us from feeling happiness. Engaging only in useful thoughts will allow you to calm your anxious and worrisome mind, and give you a sense of peace and happiness.

Actions to take

The New Caffeine

It’s neuroscience that would say that our capacity to multitask is virtually nonexistent.

When you multitask and move from project to project, your mind can’t pick up where it left off and has to take a few steps back. This is where the productivity loss is. Instead, when you focus on one task at a time, you devote all your energy and brainpower to it, and you will do a much better job.

Research indicates that the best way to solve a problem is to work hard on it, and if a solution can’t be found, to just let it go for a while. Do something that relaxes and distracts you, and your unconscious mind will help you find the solution.

Actions to take

The Self Interested Case For Not Being A Dick

Practice of compassion is ultimately beneficial for you.

Research has found that practiced compassion meditation releases less cortisol, and can, therefore, allow you to handle stress in a better way. Even those who don’t meditate and simply extend compassion to others around them, tend to be happier, healthier, more popular, and more successful. Brain scans show that an act of charity stimulates the same pleasure centers in your brain that receiving a gift stimulates.

Actions to take

Hide The Zen

What I should have done when faced with this adversity was buckle down and work harder.

When you begin to focus on what you truly want, you eliminate unnecessary activities that do not lead you where you want to go.

Once you begin to work towards achieving those goals, you should aim to de-prioritize your ego and stay humble. Then, navigating tricky situations becomes much simpler. You will find that success isn’t so hard to achieve anymore!

Remember, focus your energy on self-improvement, rather than self-criticism. Your resilience will increase tremendously, and you will be much more likely to stay on track toward achieving what you want.

Actions to take

Don’t just read. Act.
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