Starting next weekend, morning television will look a little different with a longtime ABC anchor absent from the airwaves. So, why is Dan Harris leaving Good Morning America and ABC News after 21 years with the network news division?
As Harris explained on GMA in August, he's going off-air to achieve better work-life balance and to devote his working time to his meditation company, Ten Percent Happier. “It’s been a lot to juggle, and even though I’m a public proponent of work-life balance, if I’m honest, I’ve struggled to follow my own advice,” he said at the time.
Harris joined ABC News in 2000.
A native of Newton, Mass., Harris graduated from Colby College and got his start in broadcasting as a reporter for WLBZ in Bangor, Maine, according to his ABC News bio. After jobs in WCSH in Portland, Maine, and New England Cable News (NECN), Harris joined ABC News in 2000. He became co-anchor of Good Morning America’s weekend edition in 2010 and co-anchor of Nightline three years later.
Along the way, Harris has reported on disasters from Haiti to Myanmar, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and endangered animals from Namibia to Nepal. For his work with ABC News, the 50-year-old has earned an Edward R. Murrow Award and four News & Documentary Emmy Awards.
He suffered a life-changing panic attack on air in 2004.
As Harris covered the news desk during a 2004 episode of Good Morning America, he suffered a panic attack on live television. “I was overtaken by a massive, irresistible blast of fear,” he wrote in an ABC News essay nearly a decade later. “It felt like the world was ending. My heart was thumping. I was gasping for air. I had pretty much lost the ability to speak. And all of it was compounded by the knowledge that my freak-out was being broadcast live on national television.”
A doctor later told Harris out that the drugs with which he’d been self-medicating had increased the adrenaline level in his brain and thus made panic attacks likelier. That diagnosis made Harris realize his “mindlessness” at the time, “from hurtling headlong into war zones without considering the psychological consequences, to using drugs for a synthetic squirt of replacement adrenaline.”
After becoming a meditation believer, Harris launched Ten Percent Happier.
Through his ABC News work, Harris discovered meditation, as he detailed in his New York Timesbestselling 2014 book, 10 Percent Happier: How I Tamed The Voice In My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works.
These days, his Ten Percent Happier company operates a meditation app and publishes a podcast, and Harris also co-authored the 2017 book Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics.
“To be clear, meditation won’t magically solve all of your problems,” Harris wrote in 2014. “I still do dumb things—just ask my wife—but meditation is often effective kryptonite against the kind of epic mindlessness that produced my televised panic attack. When friends and colleagues ask (usually with barely hidden skepticism) why I meditate, I often say, ‘It makes me 10 percent happier.’”