A couple days ago I completed reading Dan Harris’s book 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story. The title is a bit overbearing and silly sounding but the contents within the book I found to be extremely useful.
I know this will likely sound controversial coming from an atheist and skeptic but I think meditation can be beneficial. If we remove all the pseudoscience and analyze what the core benefits are, we can find the actual value to it. Studies have been done over the past 70 years but much of the early work wasn’t useful or valid. New studies now are being done to use modern tools to measure what short-term and long-term benefits might be gained from meditation.
I’m not suggesting that meditation is any sort of panacea but, from what I’ve gathered, it can be great to tame that running negative inner dialogue, reduce the effects of depression and anxiety, and help with task focus. In our hectic lives these benefits can be incredibly useful.
Mr. Harris points out in his book that we are driven to want that next promotion, the next item, whatever it may be. That whatever we get next will finally satiate us, make us content. It never lasts. Once that goal is obtained it becomes the new baseline for our lives. We seek again and again to achieve that elusive happiness through career success, material goods, or achievements. This book gives a practical guide for skeptics and atheists on how to balance between the benefits of meditation and how to continue to live in the real world.
I cannot recommend this book enough for anyone who wants to be happier and get out of the endless cycle of consumption and frustration.