In Thrive, Arianna Huffington makes an impassioned and compelling case for the need to redefine what it means to be successful in today's world.
Arianna Huffington's personal wake-up call came in the form of a broken cheekbone and a nasty gash over her eyethe result of a fall brought on by exhaustion and lack of sleep. As the cofounder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Groupone of the fastest growing media companies in the worldcelebrated as one of the world's most influential women, and gracing the covers of magazines, she was, by any traditional measure, extraordinarily successful. Yet as she found herself going from brain MRI to CAT scan to echocardiogram, to find out if there was any underlying medical problem beyond exhaustion, she wondered is this really what success feels like?
As more and more people are coming to realize, there is far more to living a truly successful life than just earning a bigger salary and capturing a corner office. Our relentless pursuit of the two traditional metrics of successmoney and powerhas led to an epidemic of burnout and stress-related illnesses, and an erosion in the quality of our relationships, family life, and, ironically, our careers. In being connected to the world 24/7, we're losing our connection to what truly matters. Our current definition of success is, as Thrive shows, literally killing us. We need a new way forward.
In a commencement address Arianna gave at Smith College in the spring of 2013, she likened our drive for money and power to two legs of a three-legged stool. They may hold us up temporarily, but sooner or later we're going to topple over. We need a third lega third metric for defining successto truly thrive. That third metric, she writes in Thrive, includes our well-being, our ability to draw on our intuition and inner wisdom, our sense of wonder, and our capacity for compassion and giving. As Arianna points out, our eulogies celebrate our lives very differently from the way society defines success. They don't commemorate our long hours in the office, our promotions, or our sterling PowerPoint presentations as we relentlessly raced to climb up the career ladder. They are not about our resumesthey are about cherished memories, shared adventures, small kindnesses and acts of generosity, lifelong passions, and the things that made us laugh.
In this deeply personal book, Arianna talks candidly about her own challenges with managing time and prioritizing the demands of a career and raising two daughtersof juggling business deadlines and family crises, a harried dance that led to her collapse and to her "aha moment." Drawing on the latest groundbreaking research and scientific findings in the fields of psychology, sports, sleep, and physiology that show the profound and transformative effects of meditation, mindfulness, unplugging, and giving, Arianna shows us the way to a revolution in our culture, our thinking, our workplace, and our lives.
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About the Author
Arianna Huffington, a member of Oprah's SuperSoul 100, is the cofounder, president, and editor in chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, one of the world's most influential news and information brands. She is the author of fourteen books, including Third World America and On Becoming Fearless, and the mother of two daughters, Christina and Isabella.
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Excerpted from "Thrive"
Copyright © 2015 Arianna Huffington.
Excerpted by permission of Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale.
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Table of Contents
Reading Group Guide
How do you measure success? How much do you think you have to sacrifice to get that promotion? Do you always feel rushed and behind? Do you feel you always have to be connected to your devices to not miss anything important? Arianna Huffington cofounder and editor-in-chief of one of the fastest growing media companies in the world headed on a journey to redefine success after she collapsed from exhaustion and lack of sleep. Drawing on the advice of medical researchers, spiritual leaders, neuroscientists, ancient philosophers, and her inspiring mother, Arianna set out to create a new measure for success. The result is Thrive, a rallying cry for a third metric of success beyond money and power that emphasizes physical and emotional well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving as the true indicators of a life well lived. Rescuing us from our 24/7 hyperconnected world, which steeps us in information but starves us of wisdom, Thrive presents a transformative plan for recharging our bodies and reclaiming what really matters.
We hope that the following topics will enrich your experience of this refreshing new approach to living a life of well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving.
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Arianna Huffington's third metric of measuring success beyond by the conventional two metrics of money and power consists of four vital pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving. Before reading Thrive, how did you measure success? How did the book change your view of what living a good life is all about?
2. Describing her 2007 wake-up call, Arianna writes that while she was on the cover of magazines and had been named one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine, she was working eighteen hours a day, seven days a week, and definitely not thriving. In her case, "success" contributed to her stress and collapse. What are your greatest sources of stress? How many hours do you work each week? How many hours do you think about work even if you're "off-duty?" Are you incorporating into your daily life what nurtures and recharges you?
3. Citing numerous scientific studies about the harmful effects of sleep deprivation, Thrive offers readers a variety of ways to improve sleep habits, including turning off all your devices and gently escorting them out of your bedroom. Do you have trouble getting to bed? Do you feel you get the sleep you need? If so, what are the biggest hurdles to getting more sleep? Are you able to take a nap during the day?
4. Arianna describes a range of approaches to meditation, from the secular to the spiritual. Ultimately, she writes, "The point is to find some regular activity that trains the mind to be still, fully present, and connected with yourself." Which meditative activities are you most drawn to? How can you make some form of meditation a part of your daily routine?
5. What did the book help you discover about the differences between the ways in which women and men experience stress and stress-related illness? In your profession, are there many women in leadership roles?
6. What do the contents of your refrigerator look like? Are the veggies "forlorn," or do they get eaten? Do you rush through meals while eating on the run? Or have you learned the value for your health of eating slowly and mindfully?
7. The book balances scientific research with examples showing the importance of inner wisdom, dreams, silence, and escaping from the digital world and its 24/7 data stream. What are your favorite ways to unplug and recharge?
8. What does wonder mean to you? How does hyperconnectivity get in the way of wonder? What are you grateful for right now?
9. How has the power of giving influenced your life? Can you recall a gift you have received of someone's time and assistance? Did you pay it forward? How?
10. Thrive takes on the myth that we must choose between a successful career and a well-rounded life of well-being. In fact, as the book shows, Third Metric tools and practices can enhance our success at work. Why has American culture sometimes celebrated workaholism? What would our corporate climate be like if burnout was no longer a badge of honor?
11. The book's appendices feature dozens of additional resources including apps and websites.Which ones do you intend to try? And how does Thrive inspire you to live your life differently in the future?
12. Paying homage to her heritage, Arianna often shares sage advice from Greek philosophers and storytellers. Are there traditions in your own family that sustain you? How can they help to bring you inner peace?