ABC News Anchor Dan Harris
Jim Brickman chats with the incredible Dan Harris about meditation, mindfulness, and his new book in honor of National Audiobook Month!
Listen to part one of Jim’s interview with Dan Harris here!
JB: Well, I think a lot of us have a hard time staying soothed and collected, especially under pressure. How do you get better at that? Meditation is one way, so I am so excited to talk with ABC News anchor, Dan Harris, he is the author of 10% Happier, and the 10% Happier podcast which is so popular, AND the book Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. I absolutely love your story– how are you doing today, Dan?
DH: I’m doing great! Thanks for having me on, I appreciate it.
JB: If your’e not familiar with Dan’s story, tell us a little bita bout meditation and what happened to you that sent you on that path.
DH: Yeah, I had a panic attack on live television, which was inconvenient, to say the least. This is back in 2004, I was on Good Morning America, you know, just a little show we do called Good Morning America, and I basically freaked out– my mind was racing, my heart was racing, my lungs seied up, I lost the ability to speak, and I had to quit in the middle of my wrap of the morning headlines and toss it back to the main hosts of the show, Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson. That incident set me off on a weird and windy journey that ultimately landed me on something that I always thought was ridiculous, which is meditation.
JB: And so many of us has seen that footage, and I mean… it really could have been worse, almost, you didn’t completely shut down, but I think, you know, we could tell that you were having a rough time.
DH: Anybody who wants to can see the video, if you just google “panic attack on national television” it comes right up…which is great for me, uh…I get one of two responses. One response is, if you’ve ever had a taste of panic, then you know exactly what you’re looking at and all of your empathy neurotransmitters start firing. If, however, you’re blessed enough to have never had a panic attack, or anything close, then those people often say to me “it didn’t look that bad.” And that’s true, I’m a trained TV personality, so I was able to hold myself together reasonably well, the other thing is, I had a luxury in that moment which is that I had other people that I could hand the verbal baton off to.
Listen to part two of Jim’s interview with Dan Harris here!
JB: So Dan, how can audiobooks and meditation work together? DH: I think it’s a wonderful combination. Just to set the groundwork here, a couple years ago I wrote a book called 10% Happier, and a few motnhs ago I wrote a follow-up book, a much more how-to book called Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics. This is due to national audiobook month, so I’m out specifically to talk about the audiobook, but you can get it in print if you want! Anyway, the book is designed, as the title would suggest, to help people who may feel that they can’t meditate or that it would never work for them, that actually, you can do it. Audio is a great format, and I, as a broadcaster– and you know this, as a broadcaster yourself…I have a leaning toward the spoken word. Everything I write is really designed to be spoken aloud. So my co-author and I, Jeff Warren…we each read our sections of the book and we really had a good time doing it. JB: So I would consider myself a fidgety skeptic…so when you went to write this book, tell me the approach you took with your co-writer. DH: I didn’t want a dry meditation manual, so we decided to dream up a gonzo cross-country road trip. We got a big, silly bus and we put 10% Happier decals on the side of it, and we went across the country very quickly– 18 states in 11 days– which, if you’re gonna go cross-country, I’m gonna recommend you go more slowly, and we met all sorts of people. Celebrities, social workers, cops, military cadets, all kinds of people that are interested in meditation but aren’t doing it. And we systematically were able to make a list of all the primary obstacles to meditation and to tackle them. We had a lot of fun doing it. JB: And where can we keep up with everything that you are working on now? DH: You can get the books wherever you buy your books or wherever you buy your audiobooks, on Audible for example, the podcast is available– 10% Happier— wherever you get your podcasts, and if you want one-stop shopping, you can go to 10percenthappier.com.
More about Dan Harris
Dan Harris is co-anchor of “Nightline” and the weekend edition of “Good Morning America” on ABC News. He also regularly files reports for “World News Tonight with David Muir,” “20/20,” “Good Morning America,” ABC News Digital and ABC News Radio. Previously, he anchored “World News Sunday.”
In 2014, Harris published the book, 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress without Losing My Edge and Found Self-Help That Actually Works. It went to #1 on the New York Times Bestsellers List, and then became an app, designed to teach meditation to skeptics, and a podcast, talking with smart people about whether there’s anything beyond 10 percent.
Harris first joined ABC News in March 2000 and has covered many of the biggest stories in recent years. He reported on the mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, Aurora, Colorado, and Tucson, Arizorna, and natural disasters from Haiti to Myanmar to New Orleans. He has also covered combat in Afghanistan, Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, and has made six visits to Iraq.
He has traveled around the globe for ABC News, embedding with an isolated Amazonian Indian tribe, questioning drug lords in the lawless slums of Rio, and confronting the head of Philip Morris International over the sale of cigarettes to Indonesian minors. Harris has made it a priority to shine a light on the world’s most vulnerable populations, producing stories about child slaves in Haiti, youths accused of witchcraft in the Congo and predatory pedophiles who travel from the U.S. to Cambodia. He has also covered endangered animals from such diverse datelines as Namibia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea and Nepal.
Domestically, Harris has led ABC News’ coverage of faith, with a particular focus on the evangelical movement. He scored one of the first interviews with former pastor Ted Haggard after his sex and drugs scandal. He has also interviewed Mormon apostles, Roman Catholic cardinals, self-help gurus, and atheists.
In other domestic coverage, Harris has reported on politics, business and criminal justice, including once spending 48 hours locked up in solitary confinement for a story about whether this form of incarceration is inhumane.
Prior to joining ABC News, Harris was an anchor at New England Cable News (NECN), the largest regional cable news network in the country, from 1997 to 2000. Before that, he was an anchor and political reporter at WCSH, an NBC affiliate in Portland, Maine, for two years. He began his broadcasting career as a reporter for WLBZ, the NBC affiliate in Bangor, Maine.
Harris has been honored several times for his journalistic contributions. He received an Edward R. Murrow Award for his reporting on a young Iraqi man who received the help he needed in order to move to America, and in 2009 and 2014 won Emmy Awards for international reporting that aired on “Nightline.” In 2013, he received the ASPCA’s Presidential Service Award for Media Excellence.
A graduate of Colby College in Waterville, Maine, Harris also holds honorary doctorate degrees from Colby and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. He was raised in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, and currently lives in New York City with his wife, Bianca, and their young son, Alexander, and three cats.
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