I hadn’t intended on blogging about the book I finished most recently, but given it’s been on my mind ever since I finished reading it three days ago, I figured it couldn’t hurt.
Last weekend I picked up 10% Happier in the same manner I’d picked up my previous book (it wasn’t until after I posted that I realized I forgot to give you the title — 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess). In other words, I thought I would skim a few pages or read a chapter or two before calling it good, allowing me to move on to the next book on my to-read stack. Instead, I got hooked.
I’ll be honest that I didn’t read the portions about his journalism career as closely. But it was his journalism background and training, if you will, that made me appreciate the book. As many of the goodreads reviewers noted, it was nice to have that objective look at self-help theories, programs, etc. He was able to talk about, through interviews and research, which self-help concepts seemed legit and which ones are primarily (pardon my French) bullshit.
Like others, I was also surprised by his genuine interest in meditation and personal growth throughout the memoir. It’s something I’ve toyed with over the years, and I think the author got me back on board for trying it again in the near future. His insights made me see it in a new light in that it’s not all about that zen feeling.
“It’s not that I never got annoyed anymore. In fact, when you’re mindful, you actually feel irritation more keenly. However, once you unburden yourself from the delusion that people are deliberately trying to screw you, it’s easier to stop getting carried away. As the Buddhists liked to point out, everyone wants the same thing – happiness – but we all go about it with varying levels of skill.”
And isn’t that what navigating the good life is really about? At least for me, anyway. And how many times have I talked about finding (and perhaps more importantly keeping) balance in my life?
“In the midst of these intense work sprints, when I had less time to sleep, exercise, and meditate, I could feel my inner monologue getting testier, too – and I didn’t have the wherewithal to not take the voice in my head so seriously. I looked tired in my live shot this morning. I need a haircut. I can’t believe that Facebook commenter called me a ‘major clown.’ The ego, that slippery son of a bitch, would use fatigue as an opportunity to sneak past my weakened defenses.” (pg. 204)
Not that I think about it in terms of the ego, but it’s something I can absolutely relate to (though minus the meditation aspect). When I’m not getting enough sleep (which sadly happens more often than not, despite the at times staggering numbers on my FitBit) or when I’m not working out consistently, my attitude and mental state is less than stellar.
Mostly I think this book was a good reminder to find a way, whether it’s through meditation or journaling or physical activity, to stay balanced and in the present. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the to-do list and worries and insecurities. But as one of my favorite quotes found on pinterest goes, you can feel those emotions without unpacking and living in them. Life doesn’t necessarily have to be as hard as I make it out to be. Sometimes you just need to breathe, using whatever skills brings you happiness. Perhaps meditation will be mine someday after all.