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10% Happier

How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress without Losing My Edge and Found Self-Help That Actually Works

By Dan Harris
  • Read in 13 minutes
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  • Contains 8 key ideas
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10% Happier by Dan Harris

10% Happier demystifies the ancient art of meditation by explaining recent, cutting-edge scientific research into how meditation affects your body and mind. Importantly, it shows you just how valuable meditation can be in coping with the chaos and stress of modern life.

Key idea 1 of 8

The ego is your inner narrator, or your sense of “I.” It’s the voice that tells you what to do.

We hear the word “ego” quite often. Your spouse might call you egotistical; your best friend is egocentric; and armchair philosophers invoke Freudian buzzwords, blaming personal shortcomings on the ego.

But the ego is far more nuanced than we give it credit for. In our everyday interactions, we often refer to the ego as the source of pride, conceit and amour propre, or self-love.

To most, the ego is the source of behavior that is self-serving or unconcerned with the well-being of others. To Freud, the ego represents a psychological mechanism that mediates between our morality and our base desires.

But these definitions of ego still don’t get to the heart of the matter. We can talk about deep desire or fiery pride, but we still can’t explain what’s going on in our heads when we do strange things like open the fridge without actually being hungry.

A better way to think of your ego – and certainly one that offers you the most insight into your behavior – is as the voice in your head.

Your ego comments on your actions and behavior from the moment you open your eyes in the morning until you drift off to sleep at night, telling you what to do and what not to do.

This isn’t the kind of “voice in your head” that is attributed to psychosis. Rather, you can think of it as a voice that manifests through your thoughts.

For example, your ego is the voice that tells you “I’m way too tired for the gym” even when you know that you could really stand to break a sweat. It’s what makes you obsessively check your emails a thousand times per day, or gaze into the refrigerator even when you aren’t hungry.

As you’ll see, the ego is responsible for a great deal of what you do. Luckily, taking steps to rein your ego in can make us happier and healthier.

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