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What Would You Do To Be “10% Happier?”: A Review of the Book by Dan Harris

10 years ago, Dan Harris had a panic attack on TV. He was reporting for “Good Morning America“. If you were watching, he just looked like he had swallowed a gnat.

He blinked a couple of times.  Stumbled over his words just a little.  Appeared somewhat pale. Shot the story quickly back to the anchors.

He covered up well.




His recent book 10% Happier is his story of recovery from panic disorder through meditation.

I don’t read too many self-help books.  After talking all day about mental health, I don’t particularly want to read about it at night.  But I was drawn to this one for a couple of reasons.

First, the title was reassuring.  It wasn’t one of those, “DO THIS AND YOU WILL EXPERIENCE PERFECT INNER WELL-BEING!!!” kind of titles.  No… you will just be 10% happier than you are now.  Not a bad deal.

Second, I have panic disorder myself.  Mostly in performance situations.  But it crops up when I feel nervous about meeting new people.  Handling novel situations.  I am much better than I used to be.  But I am always looking for ideas.  Better coping techniques. Ways to help patients who have the same issue.

(My mother had a significant obsessive-compulsive disorder so I have always counted myself lucky.  Just a whiff of anxiety.)

I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Harris’ writing.  Funny, engaging, frank.  I don’t think you need to have an anxiety disorder to benefit from it.  He is describing the distinct problems that any driven, perfectionistic person might tend to have.  And what he did about them while maintaining his career path, his “edge” as he calls it.

The book turns out to be a primer for meditation as well.  I had learned to meditate years ago but had long since given up the practice.  Much to my dismay.  Since reading, I have tried to find a little time every now and then to practice.

I am awful, as most beginning meditators are.

Mr. Harris’ stance is that it only takes 5 minutes a day to alter your brain’s functioning and to alleviate anxiety.  The book provides excellent instruction and simple explanations of Buddhist concepts behind meditation.

One day, I tried it.  I was walking up the extremely steep hill right before you get to our house.  Usually I count my steps on this part as it helps me keep up the pace.  (Okay, maybe I did inherit a bit of OCD…) Instead, I focused on my breathing and let go of as much conscious thought as possible.  Much to my amazement, I forgot where I was on the hill.  I couldn’t tell if I had almost finished or had just started.

I was just there.

Pretty cool.

What the book is not.  He doesn’t try to talk you into being a Buddhist.  He doesn’t say that his ideas or techniques are the only way out of anxiety, or even the best way.  He doesn’t claim to be an expert.  He is simply telling his story.

I would highly recommend it.

As for me?

I am going to try to find that 5 minutes.

If you have any questions or comments, please write them below or send them privately to me at  I will answer!

Dr. Rutherford was not paid for this review.

Dr. Margaret Rutherford

Dr. Margaret Rutherford has been in practice in Fayetteville, Arkansas for over 20 years. She began blogging in 2012 with the website “NestAche”, and following with in April 2014. Her work can be found here on Midlife Boulevard, as well as the Huffington Post, Boomeon, WeWantMore, BetterAfter50 and Arkansas Women Bloggers.

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Suzanne Fluhr

Friday 25th of July 2014

I discovered Zentangle although I've never been trained in the official, trademarked method. I call my version "doodling on steroids" and I must say, I think I'm at least 10% happier because of less anxiety even though nothing else has changed in my life. I'm a "recovering" lawyer---one of those perfectionists always on edge and annoyed with themselves because they can't achieve perfection. :)

Dr.Margaret Rutherford

Sunday 27th of July 2014

Hi Suzanne. I just saw this comment and thank you for leaving it! I don't know what Zentagle is but am going to go look it up. Sounds like it has helped decrease anxiety so I am very curious... thanks for helping me and others learn about something else!

Pam (Grey is the New Black)

Wednesday 23rd of July 2014

I have been meditating for 20 minutes every day since I read that book. He convinced me! I have an iPhone app that I use.

Dr. Margaret Rutherford

Wednesday 23rd of July 2014

That's a great idea Pam. Am so glad to hear the book made an impact on someone else as well! Thanks for commenting!

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