10% Happier by Dan Harris: Summary and Notes

10 percent happier“When you have one foot in the future and the other in the past, you piss on the present.”

Rating: 6/10

Related Books: Meditation for Fidgety SkepticsGoing To Pieces Without Falling Apart, Atomic Habits, Essentialism

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10% Happier by Dan Harris: Short Summary

In 10% Happier, Dan Harris shares his journey to live a more fulfilling life. The book is filled with personal anecdotes and insights from someone looking to find their way. Dan talks extensively about meditation and mindfulness and how they improved his life.

Don’t Be A Jerk

You don’t have to be nasty in the workplace. If you are, it will lead to reduced clarity and effectiveness and this will lead to rash decisions.

At the end of the day, compassion wins. It will bring you allies and make you a more fulfilled person.

Where Necessary, Hide The Zen

While being compassionate is great, the workplace can still be competitive. So, it doesn’t mean that you should give up on your ideas, personal space, or criticism of others and their results.

It is possible to do them calmly and in a dignified way and without being overly personal.

“Striving is fine, as long as it’s tempered by the realization that, in an entropic universe, the final outcome is out of your control.”


There are many scientific findings showing how beneficial meditation can be.

It has health benefits, it is a form of therapy and will help you develop a deeper sense of calmness. But its biggest advantage is that it will help you respond instead of reacting to your impulses and urges.

According to the Buddha, we have three habitual responses to everything we experience:

  • We want it. “I want that million-dollar home”
  • We reject it. “I don’t want to work there anymore”
  • We zone out. Zoning out when the news anchor starts to talk about agricultural policy

But there is a fourth option: Mindfulness.

“Mindfulness is a fourth option, a way to view the contents of our mind with nonjudgmental remove.”

Mindfulness is the ability to recognize what is happening in your mind—anger, jealousy, sadness, the pain of a stubbed toe, whatever—without getting carried away by it.

With meditation, you can observe what happens in your mind non-judgmentally and learn how to shut down the ego.

The Price Of Security Is Insecurity — Until It’s Not Useful

Great achievements and the security they bring come as a result of years of insecurity.

For example:

Job security changes throughout your career. In the beginning, you are subjected to internships and short-term contracts to have a chance to prove yourself and earn security.

Being mindful will help you figure out when your worrying is worthwhile and when it is pointless.

Being vigilant, practicing diligence, and setting audacious goals are all good parts of ‘insecurity’.

‘Comparing mind’ or seeing yourself in others can also make you happier. It helps in understanding your situation and that of others.

Equanimity Is Not The Enemy of Creativity

Being happier does not mean never having urges, desires, temptations, or even being in an endless moment of bliss. This is a great misconception dating as far as the time of Aristotle.

What it means is that it is more satisfying to face your demons rather than to indulge them.

“I found that rather than rendering me boringly problem-free, mindfulness made me, as an eminent spiritual teacher once said, “a connoisseur of my neuroses.”

Don’t Force It

Embrace purposeful pauses and even ambiguity in your work.

One of the marvels of meditation is that it can be practiced almost everywhere.

For example:

While moving from one charged meeting to another, you can practice meditation by focusing on how your feet feel.

Purposeful pauses can also improve the quality of your relationships.

Humility Prevents Humiliation

When you don’t react with your ego every time, you can navigate tricky situations in a more agile way.

“We’re all the stars of our own movies, but cutting back on the number of Do you know who I am? thoughts made my life infinitely smoother.”

While it is important to be humble, you must strike the right balance otherwise, you will be a pushover.

“The ego is never satisfied. No matter how much stuff we buy, no matter how many arguments we win or delicious meals we consume, the ego never feels complete.”

Go Easy with the Internal Cattle Prod

When you practice self-compassion, you are more likely to form habits that stick and are able to bounce back from missteps. In other words, don’t be too harsh on yourself.

“All successful people fail. If you can create an inner environment where your mistakes are forgiven and flaws are candidly confronted, your resilience expands exponentially.

Nonattachment to results + self-compassion = a supple relentlessness that is hard to match

You may need to push hard, play to win but don’t despair when things don’t go your way.

What Matters Most

Ultimately, you’ve got to decide what matters in your life.

The answer is different for everybody but it is what makes you happy. Universally compassion, kindness, and being present in your own life are known to increase the level of happiness.