Episodes

  • One of the most common and insidious complaints of meditators is distraction, which can be a frustrating and difficult obstacle. Even the Buddha himself acknowledged this common problem and laid out some detailed practices for dealing with it. 

    In this episode, Shaila Catherine outlines the Buddha’s five strategies to help us tackle distractions, which can be applied to our meditation practice as well as other aspects of our lives.

    Catherine is a dharma teacher whose latest book is called Beyond Distraction: Five Practical Ways to Focus the Mind. She is also the founder and principal teacher at Insight Meditation South Bay and has 40 years of practice, including nine years, cumulatively, of silent retreat. Her first TPH appearance, which we called How to Focus, aired in May 2021. 

    In this episode we talk about: 

    The Buddha’s struggles with distractionShaila’s attempts to make the teachings of the Buddha accessible to contemporary mindsThe importance of getting to know your own thought patternsThe counterintuitive strategy of “avoid it, ignore it, forget it”Replacing seduction with mindfulnessDeveloping a flexibility of mindWhy we’re vulnerable to our own tendencies when we’re not mindful

    Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/shaila-catherine-467

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  • It seems like a design flaw in our species that we live in a world of constant change yet most of us are not comfortable with uncertainty. 

    In this episode, we talk to Maya Shankar about how to get better at dealing with change and to stop seeking what scientists call “cognitive closure.”

    Shankar is a former Senior Advisor in the Obama White House, where she founded and served as Chair of the White House Behavioral Science Team. She also served as the first Behavioral Science Advisor to the United Nations, and is currently a Senior Director of Behavioral Economics at Google. She is the host of the Pushkin Industries podcast A Slight Change of Plans, which was named Best Show of the Year in 2021 by Apple. 

    In this episode we talk about: 

    Why humans are so uncomfortable with uncertainty and changeWhat a behavioral scientist actually does in the worldWhy even the host of a podcast about change isn’t immune to the uncertainties of life The benefits of cultivating a more malleable sense of selfWhy humans are such bad forecastersThe importance of auditing yourself when you’re undergoing a big changeHow to take advantage of big reset momentsThe concept of cognitive closure and why encouraging an open mind can make us more resilient  

    Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/maya-shankar-466

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  • Nourish yourself with some kindness and shift away from self-criticism towards accepting yourself fully, even your hardest parts.

    About La Sarmiento:

    La Sarmiento is the the guiding teacher of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington's BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ Sanghas and a mentor for the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program and for Cloud Sangha. They graduated from Spirit Rock Meditation Center's Community Dharma Leader Training Program in 2012. As an immigrant, non-binary, Filipinx-American, La is committed to expanding access to the Dharma. They live in Towson, MD with their life partner Wendy and rescue pups Annabel and Bader.

    To find this meditation in the Ten Percent Happier app, you can search for “Dismantling Perfectionism, Accepting Yourself,” or click here: https://10percenthappier.app.link/content?meditation=dd701886-ad66-417a-b466-cdefb92ff5c8.

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  • “The quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life.” 

    These words from the legendary Esther Perel have the power to genuinely change your outlook on life. But while it’s easy to hear them and immediately have your mind go to family relationships or romantic relationships, today we’re going to talk about friendships. Friendships can be massive contributors to mental health. They can also, when they go pear-shaped, be the source of abundant misery. 

    Today’s guest is the legendary Esther Perel. Her resume is beyond impressive: She is a psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author of books such as Mating in Captivity. Her TED talk has attracted more than 30 million views. She is fluent in nine languages.  She is the host of the popular podcasts Where Should We Begin? and How’s Work? And her latest project is called Where Should We Begin - A Game of Stories with Esther Perel. 

    In this episode we talk about: 

    How the pandemic has impacted our friendshipsEsther’s contention that “love and commitment and intimacy don’t just belong to the world of romantic couples”What makes friendship unique, in good ways and tricky waysWhat to consider when determining whether to confront a difficulty in a friendshipHow to conduct a self-assessment of yourself as a friendHow systematic we should be about cultivating and maintaining our friendshipsHow to reconnect with friends authenticallyWhether or not we can have platonic friendships across the gender spectrumHow to handle friendships when you’re in a romantic relationship, including friendships you share, friendships with those with whom your partner doesn’t get along, and friendships with exes

    Content warning: There are some brief references to sensitive topics, including suicide. 

    *Esther Perel invites you and a colleague to apply for a session with her that will be part of the new season of her podcast How's Work? Her team is looking for work pairs, co-founders, colleagues, managers, or any combination to join her for a session to explore the future of work together. Apply here.

    Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/esther-perel-464

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  • Life is filled with all kinds of moral dilemmas— from the mundane to the momentous. Should I lie and tell my friend that I like her ugly shirt? Can I still enjoy great art if it was created by terrible people? How much money should I give to charity? Ultimately, does anything we do even matter?

    In today’s conversation, television writer and producer, Michael Schur helps us to navigate our moral dilemmas and answer some of these difficult questions. 

    Schur is best known for creating and co-creating such shows as Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Good Place, and Rutherford Falls. Additionally, he has worked on shows like The Office, Master of None, The Comeback, and Hacks. He is also the Author of How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question. 

    In this episode we talk about: 

    What got him started on the road to reading philosophy and studying ethicsThe so-called “trolley problem”Trusting your gutNatural states of virtueThe evolutionary advantages of virtueAnd how white lies can be beneficial in a complicated and messy society

    This interview was recorded in person at the TED conference in April of 2022, where both Michael Schur and Dan Harris spoke.

    Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/michael-schur-463

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  • Build resilience for tough situations. Learn the tools to develop self-empathy, clarifying what matters to you most and how to move forward.

    About Oren Jay Sofer:

    Oren Jay Sofer teaches mindfulness, meditation, and Nonviolent Communication in secular and Buddhist contexts. Oren has practiced meditation in the early Buddhist tradition since 1997, beginning his studies in Bodh Gaya, India with Anagarika Munindra and Godwin Samararatne. He is a long-time student of Joseph Goldstein, Michele McDonald, and Ajahn Sucitto, and a graduate of the IMS - Spirit Rock Vipassana Teacher Training, and current member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council.

    Oren is the author of Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication, a practical guidebook for having more effective, satisfying conversations.

    To find this meditation in the Ten Percent Happier app, you can search for “Self Empathy,” or click here: https://10percenthappier.app.link/content?meditation=c547f8dc-f150-464a-ba59-3131a4bf6944.

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  • How much would your relationships improve if you could up your emotional intelligence game? That phrase, “emotional intelligence” or EQ, entered the lexicon over 25 years ago, when Daniel Goleman wrote a book by the same name. 

    In this episode, Daniel Goleman talks about the four components of emotional intelligence and how we can develop these skills in our daily lives.  

    Golman is a Harvard-trained psychologist who, along with other contemplative luminaries such as Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg and Jon Kabat-Zinn, went to Asia and discovered meditation in the 1960s— making it a huge part of their lives and careers. 

    In this episode we talk about: 

    The four components of emotional intelligence, how to develop them, and why these skills matter so much during the middle of a pandemic Empathy and relationship management in the age of zoomThe “marshmallow test” and impulse controlA phenomenon he calls, “amygdala hijacks”Why so many Jewish kids in the sixties and seventies got turned on to Buddhism  

    Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/daniel-goleman-repost

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  • It’s completely natural when dealing with anxiety, depression, anger, shame, or any other unpleasant emotion, to just want it to go away.

    Guest Susan David says that these discomforts are the price of admission to being alive and offers an approach called emotional agility as a way to navigate them. 

    Susan David, Ph.D. is a psychologist at Harvard Medical School and author of a book called Emotional Agility. Her TED Talk on the subject has been viewed more than eight million times. 

    In this episode we talk about: 

    Her definition of emotional agility The four skills of emotional agilityWhy she says our emotions are data, not directivesHow to move skillfully through a world that “conspires against us seeing ourselves”How to avoid emotional “fusion”The power of tiny tweaksAnd “emotional granularity”— what it is, why it matters and how to practice it 

    Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/susan-david-461

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  • Start focused on what's truly important. When you pause to remember the big picture, your day can move forward grounded in integrity & wisdom.

    About Alexis Santos:

    Alexis Santos is a featured teacher on the Ten Percent Happier app and has been in the field of mindfulness and meditation since 2001. He has been a long-time student of Sayadaw U Tejaniya, with whom he ordained as a Buddhist monk, and has taught at retreat centers around the globe.

    To find this meditation in the Ten Percent Happier app, you can search for “Wake Up With Perspective,” or click here: https://10percenthappier.app.link/content?meditation=cb852965-67e4-4b4c-a2d0-c3765c3224bc.

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  • The phrase, “Get over yourself” is often used in a flippant way, but it’s actually speaking to a deep human need to get out of our heads and off our own backs. At a fundamental level, this is what Buddhism is all about— seeing through the illusion of the self, which can be the source of so much of our suffering. 

    In this episode guest Pascal Auclair talks about how we can unlock this suffering through the use of a foundational Buddhist list called the five aggregates. 

    Pascal Auclair has been immersed in Buddhist practice and study since 1997. He has been mentored by Joseph Goldstein and Jack Kornfield at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Massachusetts and Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California, where he is now enjoying teaching retreats. Pascal teaches in North America and in Europe. He is a co-founder of True North Insight and one of their guiding teachers.

    In this episode we talk about: 

    How the five aggregates got Auclair hooked on Buddhist practice and philosophyThe five aggregates as a way to work with difficultyLiving with the non-negotiable prospect of dyingPaying attention to pleasant, unpleasant and neutral feeling toneMeditation training as a way to understand that experiences are conditional

    Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/pascal-auclair-459

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  • Our culture has oddly conflicting views about pleasure. 

    In this episode, author adrienne maree brown explores the importance of pleasure and how it changes your experience of the world. 

    adrienne maree brown is the writer-in-residence at the Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute, and author of Grievers (the first novella in a trilogy on the Black Dawn imprint), Holding Change: The Way of Emergent Strategy Facilitation and Mediation, We Will Not Cancel Us and Other Dreams of Transformative Justice, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds and the co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements and How to Get Stupid White Men Out of Office. She is the cohost of the How to Survive the End of the World, Octavia’s Parables and Emergent Strategy podcasts. adrienne is rooted in Detroit.

    In this conversation we talked about:

    What is pleasure activismThe role of sex and drugsWhy we should say yes moreHow to be in touch with our sense of “enough”The role of gratitude The line between commitment and detachmentHow she defines authentic happinessHer self-description as “a recovering self-righteous organizer,” and why self-righteousness actually leads to powerlessness

    Content Warning: Discussions of sex and drugs. 

    Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/adrienne-maree-brown-458

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  • Acknowledging the hard feelings that accompany procrastination can help you alleviate avoidance and accomplish the task at hand.

    About Jay Michaelson:

    Dr. Jay Michaelson is a Senior Content Strategist at Ten Percent Happier and the author of seven books on meditation, including his newest, Enlightenment by Trial and Error.  In his “other career,” Jay is a columnist for The Daily Beast, and was a professional LGBTQ activist for ten years. Jay is an ordained rabbi and has taught meditation in secular, Buddhist, and Jewish context for eighteen years.

    To find this meditation in the Ten Percent Happier app, you can search for “Procrastination Medication,” or click here: https://10percenthappier.app.link/content?meditation=5d0ef603-6af6-4b9d-bc81-7920fbda1efa.

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  • In a culture that values persistent productivity, one can be left feeling chronically behind. 

    In this episode, author and recovering time management junkie, Oliver Burkeman  encourages us to stop scrambling to fit it all in by exploring the relationship between our mortality and getting things done. 

    Oliver Burkeman is the author of Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. Former guest Adam Grant has called it, “The most important book ever written about time management.” This is Oliver’s second appearance on the show. Burkeman joined us on the show a few years ago to talk about his other book, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking. He also writes a bi-weekly email newsletter called The Imperfectionist.

    In this conversation, we talk about: 

    Why accepting mortality is a crucial step in improving our relationship to timeHis conviction that it’s not about being more efficient. It’s about knowing what to neglectPatience as a superpower and the impatience spiralThe benefits of burning bridgesBecoming a better procrastinatorThe benefits of restWhat he calls “cosmic insignificance therapy”Practical tips, such as the “fixed volume approach to productivity,” the value of serialization, and strategic underachievement. 

    Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/oliver-burkeman-456

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  • Our guest this week is Alicia Menendez, an award-winning journalist, who finds herself in a common position for many women: caring way too much about what others think of her. Be nice, but not too nice. Be successful, but not too successful. Just be likable, whatever that means. In the workplace strong women are often criticized for being cold, while warm women may be seen as pushovers. In her book, The Likeability Trap, and in this conversation, she discusses this issue and explains how and why both men and women should combat it.

    In this conversation, we talk about: 

    The aforementioned likability trapThe structural imbalance in feedback for women and men in the workplaceThe things for men to consider as they engage with women in the workplace

    Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/alicia-menendez-212

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  • Tune in mindfully to help alleviate the pain of feeling unworthy and cultivate more compassion and joy for yourself.

    About Diana Winston:

    Diana Winston is the Director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center and the other of The Little Book of Being: Practices and Guidance for Uncovering Your Natural Awareness. She has taught mindfulness since 1999 at hospitals, universities, corporations, nonprofits, and schools in the US and Asia. She developed the evidence-based Mindful Awareness Practices (MAPS) curriculum and the Training in Mindfulness Facilitation, which trains mindfulness teachers worldwide. She is also a founding board member of the International Mindfulness Teachers Association. 

    To find this meditation in the Ten Percent Happier app, you can search for “Unworthiness,” or click here: https://10percenthappier.app.link/content?meditation=59c693e4-de4c-4e08-8eee-95fb36296938.

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  • Sometimes part of healing trauma means learning how to be human. 

    This episode is the last episode of our Mental Health Reboot series to mark Mental Health Awareness Month. Dr. Jacob Ham, who was introduced in Stephanie Foo’s episode earlier this week, helped Stephanie through her case of complex PTSD and discusses how to live with the hardest things that have happened to you. 

    Dr. Ham is the Director of the Center for Child Trauma and Resilience and Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He sees children, youth, adults, and families across the age range and for a variety of issues. 

    In this episode we talk about: 

    What Dr. Ham says may be the “most important thing he’s discovered” as a therapistWhy he shuts down his clients’ attempts to intellectualize their experiencesKairos versus kronos Why Dr. Ham says the Incredible Hulk is so important to himThe concept of mentalizationWhat it means to love exquisitelyAnd whether or not we have to learn to love ourselves before we can learn to love others

    Content Warning: Explicit language.

    Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/jacob-ham-453

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  • We’ve all had difficult, and sometimes horrible things happen to us. 

    While some people may be luckier than others, it’s rare that anyone goes unscathed. This episode is part of our Mental Health Reboot series to mark Mental Health Awareness Month. 

    In this episode, Stephanie Foo shares her story of being diagnosed with complex PTSD and how she learned to process her trauma and live with her past. The result of her journey is a new book called What My Bones Know: A Memoir of Healing from Complex Trauma. 

    Stephanie Foo is a journalist and radio producer. Her previous work includes This American Life, The Cut, Reply All, and 99% Invisible. Her writing has been featured in The New York Times and Vox. 

    In this conversation we talk about: 

    The various therapies, meditation styles, and wellness modalities Stephanie explored to help process her traumaWhat actually worked for her, and how it might be relevant to other survivorsShame, gratitude, and self-loveHer transformative work with Dr. Jacob Ham, who will be featured in another episode this week. 

    Content Warnings: Discussions of trauma and abuse, references to addiction and mental health challenges. Explicit language. 

    Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/stephanie-foo-452

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  • Emotions can feel so personal. Joseph helps you get your feet back under you. Remember: your mind doesn't have to push you around.

    About Joseph Goldstein:

    Joseph is one of the most respected meditation teachers in the world -- a key architect of the rise of mindfulness in our modern society -- with a sense of humor to boot. In the 1970's, he co-founded the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) alongside Sharon Salzberg and Jack Kornfield. Since its founding, thousands of people from around the world have come to IMS to learn mindfulness from leaders in the field. Joseph has been a teacher there since its founding and continues as the resident guiding teacher.

    To find this meditation in the Ten Percent Happier app, you can search for “Releasing Moods & Emotions,” or click here: https://10percenthappier.app.link/content?meditation=63bba532-84e7-4dd1-a0df-5f734be86239.

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  • Very few of us will live a life without loss. 

    As part of our Mental Health Reboot series in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, this week’s episodes talk a lot about grieving. Mary-Frances O’Connor, an expert in bereavement research, explores the science of how we grieve and experience loss, whether it’s a job or a loved one. 

    Mary-Frances O'Connor is an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Arizona, where she is also the Director of Clinical Training. And she is the author of a book called The Grieving Brain.

    In this episode we talk about: 

    The distinction between grief and grievingHow her Buddhist practice has influenced her understanding of griefWhether or not we can ever quote/unquote “get over it”Why she argues for “a really big toolkit of coping strategies” How to understand the work of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross todayWhat grieving looks like in a pandemicWhat to say to people who are grievingThe new diagnosis of prolonged grief disorder

    Content Warning: Brief mention of suicide. 

    Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/mary-frances-oconnor-450

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  • There is an unstoppable flow of gain and loss within our lives. 

    Processing this flow helps us to develop equanimity. In this conversation, Pulitzer Prize-winner and New Yorker staff writer Kathryn Schulz discusses her new book Lost and Found: A Memoir, in which she explores experiencing both a huge loss anda huge gain, and how to live in a world where both happiness and pain commingle. 

    In this episode we talk about: 

    How humans experience griefA gift you can give to the grievingWhy she loves the clichés that remind us to enjoy the momentHer broad understanding of the term “loss”Why the key word in ‘lost and found’ is “and” What she’s learned about compromising in relationships

    Full Shownotes: https://www.tenpercent.com/podcast-episode/kathryn-schulz-449

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