Huffpost Entertainment
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Liz Smith Headshot

How to Be 10% Happier? Read Dan Harris's New Book

Posted: Updated:

"IF YOU want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." Says the Dalai Lama.

Dan Harris is in that small respected world where news correspondents and TV pundits ply their wares and give informed opinions and cover happening events all over TV and the Internet. Authentic newsmen and women seem to be a vanishing breed; at least they are vanishing from ABC, the network that the late Roone Arledge made into a real news machine.

I'm not here to pay compliments to the mighty Dan Harris but to a book he has written, 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.

Dan is a guy trained to question everything he sees and hears. He is rabidly ambitious, and competitive, a born-again agnostic of the first order, worshiping and influenced by his mentor, the late star anchor Peter Jennings.

Mr. Harris' book seems at first unreasonable, as if he of all people, couldn't have written it! But he did, against all odds, and he has made a dramatic tale out of it in the bargain. The book is both highly readable and yet, also it is a story of his conversion to the edges of religion and mystic beliefs.

What's more, he has a dashingly authoritarian style, embracing not only aspects of Buddhism, Daoism, Christian charity, Jewish and Muslim wisdom and, chiefly through meditation, making himself 10% happier in real life, he says.

This is the most intriguing self-help book I've ever read and I started out with Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People back in the Dark Ages. And Dan's story is told by a self-confessed pessimist, a skeptic, a cynic, a critical egotist with sharp elbows for nudging others and dumb thoughts aside. He is a master storyteller and finally gives it all up for attitudes he never thought he could believe in.

Maybe you saw Dan on TV with Diane Sawyer when he experienced a true panic attack on air. He realized then that neither his skeptical attitudes, or drugs, or a happy marriage, or success, could help him reshape his life.

He advanced then to the frontiers of meditation. This wasn't easy. But Dan seems to have found the rainbow and he advises how we can join him in search for it.

There is no wishy-washy, namby-pamby sentiment here. Just seeing what you really have become and need, the opposite of competition, stress and combative bad will. Dan goes on working, competing, telling it like it is, but giving others some slack nowadays and mainly giving himself some slack. Meditation and the changes that come with it, have made him happier.

"I tamed the horrible voice in my head that kept saying I wasn't doing it all right. I reduced stress without losing my edge and found self-help that actually works! Meditation has given me a helping hand where I never expected it."

Read 10% Happier from It Books under Harper Collins and decide if you want to make the effort to be happier!

•"There are no consolation prizes in the theater," said the great director George Abbott.

If your favorite TV show kills off a character, learn to be sanguine about these things. Josh Charles is gone suddenly from The Good Wife and even the rarely seen, Cristin Milioti, goes before we get used to her being "the mother" we briefly met on How I Met Your Mother.

But actors want to move on from a series eventually. They don't want to only be identified as Roseanne or even as Lucy. Actors know that a series can eat up a career and typecast them for life. And, if you're smart, make you very rich, which is some compensation.

Grow up! People die in real life all the time, just disappear. It's inconvenient. Do you think writing 13,000,000 internet complaints will bring them back? Even God doesn't respond to that.

• And last night on HBO, award champ Julia Louis-Dreyfus premiered another Veep at 10:30.

She wants to be President in this on-going comedy, just for a reasonable amount of time.

•WELL, according to Michael Riedel of the New York Post, the letters of the late playwright Arthur Laurents (Gypsy, West Side Story) are in the Library of Congress with "unrestricted access." This is making a lot of people nervous. Arthur wasn't one to mince words, feuding with the world; ever vindictive though supremely talented.

When I first met Arthur in the 1950s in Quogue, where I lived next door to him, he was gay but still exercising his right to sleep around with the opposite sex. He had affairs I know of with ballet star Nora Kaye...the talented singer Anita Ellis (she dubbed Rita Hayworth, most famously in Gilda) and the incomparable Lena Horne! Arthur got around.

So I can't wait to read his and Stephen Sondheim's mail. (However, I shudder to think what might exist of written exchanges between me and Laurents! )

But there are famous souls still out there that are worrying more than yours truly.