Written by : How Dan Harris Became 10% Happier 

How Dan Harris Became 10% Happier

On our podcast, Live Happy Now, we bring you ideas and research on how to live a happier and more meaningful life. You’ll find dozens of interviews with positive psychology and well-being thought leaders as well as media personalities like veteran newsman and bestselling author Dan Harris, whose talk we’ve excerpted below.

How do you ­find the time to meditate?

I prioritize a few things. I make sure I get enough sleep, enough exercise, that I get to spend time with my family, and I make sure to meditate. I try to not get overly worked up over any one thing at any one moment. I do my best to get it all done, and sometimes things fall by the wayside and I try to pick it up tomorrow. This is where meditation is very helpful. I think in some ways, counterintuitively, making a little bit of time to do mental hygiene actually makes you more effective because you spend less time engaged in useless rumination and worry. We spend a lot of time working on our home décor, our stock portfolios, our hair, our bodies, but most of us spend no time working on the one ­filter we experience everything through and that’s our mind. And it’s just common sense to tune the thing up.

What advice do you have for people who are hesitant to get inside their own heads?

First of all, you’re not alone. It’s not a strange concern to have. A lot of people are worried that if they look into their own mind they might not like what they see. It’s there anyway and it is having an impact on you whether you choose to see it or not. So your options are whether to be yanked around by it unconsciously or to deal with it forthrightly.

What is a good starting practice to jump into meditation?

I’m a Type A person and when I do things I expect a certain result. I expect a win, but you don’t really win at meditation. It’s not that kind of endeavor. You have to go in expecting that you’re going to be distracted. In most forms of meditation you’re focusing on your breath and you’re going to get lost a million times. People think that if you’re getting lost you’re doing it wrong, but in fact the act of meditation is simply to notice when you’ve become distracted and to start over again. And that act of failure is success. It’s like a bicep curl for your brain. Every time you notice you’re worrying and you start again that is a bicep curl. It changes your brain. It may feel like failure, but it isn’t.
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