ABC anchor Dan Harris ’93 discusses meditation and book

On Wednesday, April 1, Colby alumnus Dan Harris ’93 visited the campus to talk about his new memoir, 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.

Harris was originally supposed to present to the community on February 16, but due to a conflict, the Goldfarb Center rescheduled the speech for the April date. Though Harris had planned to host a writing workshop with Colby students, his new schedule was more pressed to time, resulting in the workshop getting cancelled in favor of more time for a dinner and reception before the speech.

The students who had signed up for the original workshop were granted a private “meet and greet” session with Harris. He arrived in the Schair-Swenson-Watson Alumni Center early in order to have a chance to chat with a small group of people from various campus publications and writing backgrounds.

Director of the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement and Professor of Government Dan Shea welcomed Harris and introduced him to the small group, then asked him to talk about how his work at Colby and writing projects translate into writing a book and working at a large news station.

Harris discussed his time on the Hill, mentioning his participation in the WMHB radio club in addition to his work in the Government department, then made quips about the light work load he said students often face.

After giving his audience a few tips about writing and the revision process, he signed copies of his book, and students and faculty were able to take pictures with him and thank him for coming to campus.

The main event of Harris’s visit, his all-campus speech, took place at 7 p.m. that night. He greeted the Colby community and joked about the parts of the campus he remembered before getting into the core topic of meditation.

Harris showed a YouTube clip of his panic attack, which happened on air in front of millions of viewers, to illustrate the struggle he faced in regards to his mental health at that time in his life. He identified this time as being his rock bottom, wherein he was self-medicating and fighting to find stability and clarity.

Harris found a solution to these issues: meditation. He discussed the stigma often associated with the word “meditation”: he admitted that he used to see it as a hippie practice, but that this misinterpretation can be dangerous because it drives people away from something he believes is positive.

Harris made two points that were central to his speech: that everyone has a voice in their head that they need to change, and that meditation offers a level of mindulness and tranquility. He believes that these benefits will soon lead to meditation being a common practice.

Regarding his first point, Harris talked about how the original title for his book was “The Voice in My Head is an Asshole,” and his first cover featured a picture of a man throwing a chair at his own brain. He said that one’s inner voice must be trained in order to create positivity.

The second portion of his talk focused more about the practice of meditation, which he said everyone should do on a regular basis. “It’s going to become so much a part of our daily life that you will feel bad if you forget about it, like how you feel guilty for skipping the gym,” Harris said.

Harris reiterated that while his idea is not a cure-all, it is still something positive. Ultimately, he left the audience with a strong defense of the practice of meditation and with the idea that this practice is going to become common in America.

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