Dan Harris: Mentally Train the Mind

Dan Harris talks to James Altucher about How To Mentally Train The Mind

Episode 301: How to Mentally Train the Mind – Ten Minutes a Day

He had a panic attack on air.


A meltdown in front of five million people.

Dan was struggling with PTSD. And it led him to substance abuse and depression.

But like many people at bottom, his panic attack was the best thing that ever happened to him.

Dan knew he needed to make changes in his life. But he didn’t know how. His mentors and friends said “find faith.” So he tried…. Religion. Spirituality. Self help. And finally meditation.  

I asked Dan, “So what exactly is meditation?” Because I think to a lot of people it has this unappealing notion of finding enlightenment and being closer to Buddha, talking to the Dalai Lama and blah blah blah.  

“There are a couple of ways to define meditation,” he said. “One is anything that gets you to pay attention to what’s happening right now is meditation. That’s a very broad definition. Another broad definition is training the mind/mental training.”

Your mind is trainable. It’s plastic. And ready to be molded at any stage of your life. (Including now.)

But it takes work. And trust me it’s not easy. I’ve been practicing meditation practice for many years.

“All the things we want the most: fresh ideas, spontaneity, gratitude, calm, inner peace, self awareness, compassion, these are all mental skills,” Dan said. “These are skills that you can train. And to me that is just a hugely liberating idea.”

I think what I learned the most from Dan in this podcast is that meditation can be enjoyed. It’s not supposed to be a forced activity. And making meditation an essential part of your daily routine will help improve your life tenfold. But only if you really put in the work.

Wellbeing doesn’t always imply happiness, (sometimes that goal is out of reach), it means you’re well right now.

I’ve never had a panic attack on air. But I have had them. And it can feel like you’re dying. I’ve read hundreds of articles on “what it feels like to have a panic attack” to see if I’m alone.

I’m not.

And even though that’s comforting, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I hope this podcast can help you or someone you love feel just 10% happier.

I always say 1% improvement a day at anything you love, improves you 3800% a year.

Most people don’t realize that. Our efforts can be small. But the returns can be huge.

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  • CR Garrigues

    Thanks to both of you for this episode! Very well timed for me, right now. Also, in the spirit of “Spirituality and Money” please, please, please, consider Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money (if you haven’t already). Seems to me you two might have a lot to talk about!