"IF YOU want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." Says the Dalai Lama.
Dan Harris is in that small respected world where news correspondents and TV pundits ply their wares and give informed opinions and cover happening events all over TV and the Internet. Authentic newsmen and women seem to be a vanishing breed; at least they are vanishing from ABC, the network that the late Roone Arledge made into a real news machine.
Dan is a guy trained to question everything he sees and hears. He is rabidly ambitious, and competitive, a born-again agnostic of the first order, worshiping and influenced by his mentor, the late star anchor Peter Jennings.
Mr. Harris' highly readable book seems at first unreasonable, as if he of all people, couldn't have written it! But he did, against all odds, and he has made a dramatic tale out of it in the bargain. The book is the story of his conversion to the edges of religion and mystic beliefs.
What's more, he has a dashingly authoritarian style, embracing not only aspects of Buddhism, Daoism, Christian charity, Jewish and Muslim wisdom and, chiefly through meditation, making himself 10 percent happier in real life, he says.
This is the most intriguing self-help book I've ever read and I started out with Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People" back in the Dark Ages. Dan's story is told by a self-confessed pessimist, a skeptic, a cynic, a critical egotist with sharp elbows for nudging others and dumb thoughts aside. He is a master storyteller and finally gives it all up for attitudes he never thought he could believe in.
Maybe you saw Dan on TV with Diane Sawyer when he experienced a true panic attack on air. He realized then that neither his skeptical attitudes, or drugs, or a happy marriage, or success, could help him reshape his life.
He advanced then to the frontiers of meditation. This wasn't easy. But Dan seems to have found the rainbow and he advises how we can join him in the search for it.
There is no wishy-washy, namby-pamby sentiment here. Just seeing what you really have become and need, the opposite of competition, stress and combative bad will. Dan goes on working, competing, telling it like it is, but giving others some slack nowadays and mainly giving himself some slack. Meditation and the changes that come with it have made him happier.
"I tamed the horrible voice in my head that kept saying I wasn't doing it all right. I reduced stress without losing my edge and found self-help that actually works! Meditation has given me a helping hand where I never expected it."
Read "10 Percent Happier" from It Books under HarperCollins and decide if you want to make the effort to be happier!
"There are no consolation prizes in the theater," said the great director George Abbott.
If your favorite TV show kills off a character, learn to be sanguine about these things. Josh Charles is gone suddenly from "The Good Wife" and even the rarely seen Cristin Milioti departed before we got used to her being "the mother" we briefly met on "How I Met Your Mother."
But actors want to move on from a series eventually. They don't want to only be identified as "Roseanne," or even as "Lucy." Actors know that a series can eat up a career and typecast them for life. And, if you're smart, make you very rich, which is some compensation.
Grow up! People die in real life all the time. It's inconvenient. Do you think writing 13 million Internet complaints will bring them back?
And last night on HBO, award champ Julia Louis-Dreyfus premiered another "Veep." She wants to be president of the United States in this ongoing comedy, just for a reasonable amount of time.
WELL, according to Michael Riedel of the New York Post, the letters of the late playwright Arthur Laurents ("Gypsy," "West Side Story") are in the Library of Congress with "unrestricted access." This is making a lot of people nervous. Arthur wasn't one to mince words, feuding with the world; ever vindictive though supremely talented.
I first met Arthur in the '50s in Quogue, N.Y., where I lived next door to him, so I can't wait to read his mail. (However, I shudder to think what might exist of written exchanges between me and Laurents!)
But there are famous souls still out there that are worrying more than yours truly.
A WICKED CORRECTION: I got my evil Disney queens mixed up the other day. "Maleficent," who will soon be portrayed by Angelina Jolie, is not Snow White's nemesis, but rather Sleeping Beauty's! Sorry. These evil queens always wear black and never like young women. Whatever, I'm still hotly anticipating Miss Jolie.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)
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