The Mindful Way to Healthier Habits

Dan Harris
June 2, 2022

Here’s a little secret: almost everyone thinks they suck at meditation. 

It’s not that people don’t understand the instructions, which, after all, are extraordinarily simple.  It’s that meditation is hard to stick with, day in and day out – even breath in and breath out.  And then, when your mind wanders for a few minutes, or you miss a day or two, you feel bad. 

This is true not just for meditation, but for any healthy habit.  You want to exercise more, sleep better, or eat healthier, and you do, for a little while. But it’s hard to keep up a new habit, so you flake a little. And then, if you’re like me, you might resort to drill sergeant mode, operating on the assumption that the only route to success is white-knuckled willpower.

But that kind of willpower doesn’t work. Because it relies on a relatively new part of the brain, it usually evaporates in the face of older, deeper urges like hunger, anger, loneliness, or fatigue. And when it inevitably fails, in comes the shame-monger who's ready to help us wash down our failures with a nice hot cup of no one will ever love you.

Changing habits can be genuinely brutal.

That’s why, a few years ago, Ten Percent Happier developed a course on Building Healthy Habits with the renowned Stanford University psychologist and bestselling author, Kelly McGonigal.  People loved it, and so we’re putting the course into our tried-and-true Challenge format with bonus content and mindfulness-based, science-backed tools to help you make real change in a sustainable way.

Here's a little excerpt of my conversation with Kelly about a highly counterintuitive, yet scientifically proven way to build healthy habits: developing self-compassion.

— Dan

Dan Harris is the author of 10% Happier and host of a podcast by the same name. He wrote the #1 New York Times best-seller about how a panic attack, live on Good Morning America, led him to something he always assumed was ridiculous - meditation.

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