Dan Harris released his book, “10% Happier,” seven years ago. But on January 1, the “Good Morning America” weekend anchor received an endorsement for which he wasn’t prepared.
“Wolverine” actor Hugh Jackman said, in a video tweet, that he read the book with his family and it was a great way to start the year.
“Deb and I will try to read something in the morning that sparks conversation,” Jackman said in his tweet. “We have not read a book that makes us laugh as much as this. It’s helpful, useful and practical.”
A former “Nightline” anchor, Harris says he hasn’t quite accepted the unsolicited celebrity endorsements.
“Sometimes I struggle to take it in,” says Harris, who is writing a sequel. “It’s something I’m actually working on.”
He should. The book has become a movement. Harris has since launched an app and, because of COVID-19, he upped the frequency of his related podcast.
In his quest to be happier and less stressed, he found meditation. Previously, he didn’t “get” it. The No. 1 New York Times best-selling book tells the story of the skeptical news anchor who stumbled upon meditation.
The newsman admits he’s made a lot of mistakes in his life, but they led to inner peace and his devout belief in meditation.
“What made me interested in it was being a big dummy, personally,” Harris says. “I had a panic attack on the air in 2004, which was the result of towering dumb behavior in my personal life. I spent a lot of time in warzones as an ambitious young reporter and I was self-medicating.”
The app was specifically designed to teach meditation to doubters and busy people. This ancient practice has been shown by modern science to boost resilience, focus, creativity, emotional intelligence and overall mental and physical health. With meditation and mindfulness now being embraced by executives, athletes, educators and entertainers, Harris has become a leading voice for pushing for the practice into the mainstream, using plain English and dry humor.
When the book was released, Harris says he was scared to share the backstory to his on-air panic attack more than 11 years ago.
“I had not admitted that publicly,” Harris says. “I was worried people would hate me or judge me as a consequence. To have the opposite happen was amazing. I was on the beach with my son, checking Twitter, and I had people come up and say I’ve had a positive impact on their lives. It’s hard to describe. It’s awesome in the full sense of the word. It produces such awe.”
At a time when the United States is divided and the COVID-19 pandemic has overrun the world, meditation and attention to mental health are incredibly important, Harris says.
“There are lots of ways to look after mental health — getting enough sleep; movement if your body can handle it; eating well; making sure you have significant doses of social interaction, even if it’s just online.
“These are all incredibly important. I think meditation, for far too long, was overlooked. Depression, addiction, anxiety, drug abuse and suicide were all spiking before the pandemic. It’s incredibly important to take care of our minds and bodies. Meditation can rewrite key parts of your brain that have to do with stress and compassion. It is a no-brainer.”
It took Harris awhile to subscribe to meditation and well-being after his panic attack. Through his therapist and advice from his then-boss, Peter Jennings, he was able to improve his life.
He shares his insights and interviews meditation pioneers, celebrities, scientists and health experts about training minds. With the “10% App,” users will discover guided meditations and practical teachings.
For 21 days in January, he flipped the script on the “New Year New You” concept and encouraged people to ditch self-loathing and embrace self-love. Through the app, expert meditation teachers guided listeners through a series of daily meditations demonstrating the benefits of developing self-love, compassion and acceptance. The challenge provided a renewable resource for taking action and developing the resilience that is so critical when it comes to making sustained, healthy change.
“Building the app for a larger audience and having better and better content is a huge focus. I just want to help people.”
Dan Harris, tenpercent.com