10% Happier Notes

How to be 10 percent happier - The Boston Globe

Link (Amazon)

A well-written autobiographical account of Dan’s journey with meditation. The author’s job (newscaster) gave him the ability to talk directly to many high profile individuals – like the Dalai Lama, Paris Hilton, Eckert Tolle, Deepak Chopra, and Mark Epstein… among many others. The stories are worth the price of admission. Would recommend this to anyone who “doesn’t have time to meditate” or is skeptical of the practice in general. These notes won’t do the book justice.

  • When you’re cut off from your emotions, they often manifest in your body (in the form of illness)
  • Easy to be judgemental of religion if you’re not brought up in it – for example, I had sweeping, uninformed generalizations about religious people
  • Buddhism = more of a philosophy than a religion
  • The Buddha embraced the concept: “nothing lasts – including us. We and everyone we love will die. Fame fizzles, beauty fades, continents shift… We suffer because we get attached to people and possessions that ultimately evaporate.”
  • We have three habitual responses to everything we experience: we want it, reject it, or zone out.
  • Tara Brach method for applying mindfulness: RAIN. R = Recognize. A = Allow. I = Investigate. N = Non-identification
  • “How often are we waiting for the next pleasant hit of… whatever? The next meal or the next relationship or the next latte or the next vacation, I don’t know. We just live in anticipation of the next enjoyable thing that we’ll experience. I mean, we’ve been, most of us, incredibly blessed with the number of pleasant experiences we’ve had in our lives. Yet when we look back, where are they now?” –Joseph Goldstein
  • Hedonic adaptation – when we get accustomed to good things, we have a new baseline for normal (the rockstar who gets accustomed to the crazy life, the rich person who gets accustomed to the mansion, etc)
  • Planning is helpful, but if you find yourself ruminating about a problem for the seventeenth time, ask… “Is this useful?”
  • Until we look directly at our minds, we don’t really know “what our lives are about.”
  • Benefits of meditation:
    • Reduced level of stress hormones
    • Boosted immune system
    • More awareness and compassion
  • “Most of one’s own troubles, worries, and sadness come from self-cherishing, self-centeredness.” –Dalai Lama
  • Practicing compassion appears to help your body handle stress in a better way.
  • The same pleasure centers light up in the brain when we receive a gift as when we donate to charity.
  • Nonattachment is the key to balancing ambition and equanimity. Striving is fine as long as you understand the final outcome is out of your control. If you don’t focus on variables you can’t control, you can focus on the ones you do.
  • “The most important thing to me is probably, like, being kind and also trying to do something awesome.” –Robert Schneider

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