Self-Reflection

Happier Pauses in 2018 by Lauren Barnett

A week ago today I returned home from my parents home and realized that I had forgotten this ridiculously old copy of a hardcover book I had been reading forever and was hoping to finish before the end of the new year. Returning from vacation for a staycation happens albeit once a year in my stationary New York life, so with an ideal that included spending my days being Pinterest-cozy with a book, I picked up 10% Happier by Dan Harris.

Dan Harris

Dan Harris

10% Happier is the story of Dan Harris, a reporter turned on-air TV news talent with an ego to match, as he attempts to calm his on-the-go mind with a meditation practice. A lot of it is eye-roll worthy. Dan Harris doesn’t have a name or face that I recognize and he strikes me a bit of a media equivalent of a ‘tech bro.’ He seems to know that he’ll have a wildly skeptical audience and reluctantly admits that he meditates because it’s helpful to him. A lot of his story is removed from everyday reality since he’s connected to the household names of Peter Jennings and Diane Sawyer and attends fancy restaurant rendezvous with renowned meditation experts. This self-aware conflict with the meditation journey kept me entertained, but like all holiday binges, I wanted to know what happens and move on to the next thing. The books is a quick read and all the annoyances aside, his basic point to me: even if you’re the biggest jerk in the world, you may be a little less so if you stop and smell some roses.

With the added value of free time to attend yoga classes and wander winter time parks, this slowing down felt easy peasy and then life starts again and you’re pulled from a dream state of Shavasana tranquility to realize that 10% happiness improvement is sufficient for this cynic. And I didn’t even need a friend to pull some strings to get me into a fancy ass retreat in Marin County to realize that — but I also don’t have a book, yet.

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This time of year, it’s incredibly easy to become self-reflective as the world sleeps longer in darkness and seemingly slows down (or you’re locked inside during snow days). Grandiose plans work their way into a sedated holiday mind and everything is anew. Little magic moments of that capture dull light, a striking early sunset, snow freeze time where I’m much more nostalgic and appreciative of the present.

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During a speech to a crowd of strangers, I mentioned that I used to look up at the sky and point out the winter sunrise’s pink and oranges to her stoic sleepless face. I did not mention that 10-years later, in college, I would despise when my hippie friends pointed to ridiculous sunsets with these same painterly colors and rejoiced in the scene’s beauty (their proclamations really did sound ridiculous in my head). Obviously, I want to be happier, nicer, pleasant, but I don’t want to be stomped on like a trendy wimpy flower and taken advantage of — which is what “let’s meditate” says to me. It’s a trend that everywhere in (not) subtle packages for purchase, but the idea to chill out and breath, I’m digging it and not taking myself too seriously.