Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder

by Arianna Huffington

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Overview

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington

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 eye—the result of a fall brought on by exhaustion and lack of sleep. As the cofounder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group—one of the fastest growing media companies in the world—celebrated 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 success—money and power—has 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 leg—a third metric for defining success—to 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 resumes—they 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 daughters—of 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804140867
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 03/17/2015
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 54,734
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

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.

Read an Excerpt

Well-Being

For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin—real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.

—Fr. Alfred D’Souza

A New Blueprint: Time to Renovate the Architecture of Our Lives

Nothing succeeds like excess, we are told. If a little of something is good, more must be better. So working eighty hours a week must be better than working forty. And being plugged in 24/7 is assumed to be a standard requirement of every job worth having today—which means that getting by on less sleep and constant multitasking is an express elevator to the top in today’s work world. Right?

The time has come to reexamine these assumptions. When we do, it becomes clear that the price we are paying for this way of thinking and living is far too high and unsustainable. The architecture of how we live our lives is badly in need of renovation and repair. What we really value is out of sync with how we live our lives. And the need is urgent for some new blueprints to reconcile the two. In Plato’s Apology, Socrates defines his life’s mission as awakening the Athenians to the supreme importance of attending to their souls. His timeless plea that we connect to ourselves remains the only way for any of us to truly thrive.

Too many of us leave our lives—and, in fact, our souls—behind when we go to work. This is the guiding truth of the Well-Being section and, indeed, of this entire book. Growing up in Athens, I remember being taught in my classics class that, as Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” Philosophy for the Greeks was not an academic exercise. It was a way of life—a daily practice in the art of living. My mother never went to college, but she would still preside over long sessions in our small kitchen in Athens discussing the principles and teachings of Greek philosophy to help guide my sister, Agapi, and me in our decisions and our choices.

Our current notion of success, in which we drive ourselves into the ground, if not the grave—in which working to the point of exhaustion and burnout is considered a badge of honor—was put in place by men, in a workplace culture dominated by men. But it’s a model of success that’s not working for women, and, really, it’s not working for men, either. If we’re going to redefine what success means, if we are going to include a Third Metric to success, beyond money and power, it’s going to be women who will lead the way—and men, freed of the notion that the only road to success includes taking the Heart Attack Highway to Stress City, will gratefully join both at work and at home.

This is our third women’s revolution. The first women’s revolution was led by the suffragettes more than a hundred years ago, when courageous women such as Susan B. Anthony, Emmeline Pankhurst, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton fought to get women the right to vote. The second was led by Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, who fought—and Gloria continues to fight—to expand the role of women in our society and give them full access to the rooms and corridors of power where decisions are made.

This second revolution is still very much in progress, as it needs to be. But we simply can’t wait any longer for the third revolution to get under way.

That’s because women are paying an even higher price than men for their participation in a work culture fueled by stress, sleep deprivation, and burnout. That is one reason why so many talented women, with impressive degrees working in high-powered jobs, end up abandoning their careers when they can afford to. Let me count the ways in which these personal costs are unsustainable: As mentioned in the introduction—but it is so important it bears repeating—women in highly stressful jobs have a nearly 40 percent increased risk of heart disease and heart attacks compared with their less-stressed colleagues, and a 60 percent greater risk for type 2 diabetes (a link that does not exist for men, by the way). Women who have heart attacks are almost twice as likely as men to die within a year of the attack, and women in high-stress jobs are more likely to become alcoholics than women in low-stress jobs. Stress and pressure from high-powered careers can also be a factor in the resurgence of eating disorders in women ages thirty-five to sixty.

Most of the time, the discussion about the challenges of women at the top centers around the difficulty of navigating a career and children—of “having it all.” It’s time we recognize that, as the workplace is currently structured, a lot of women don’t want to get to the top and stay there because they don’t want to pay the price—in terms of their health, their well-being, and their happiness. When women do leave high-powered jobs, the debate is largely taken over by the binary stay-at-home-mom versus the independent career woman question. But, in fact, when women at the top—or near enough—opt out, it’s not just because of the kids, even though that’s sometimes what takes the place of the job they’ve left. And the full reasons why they’re leaving also have implications for men.

Caroline Turner, author of Difference Works: Improving Retention, Productivity, and Profitability Through Inclusion, was one of those women at the top. After successfully climbing the corporate ladder, she decided to get off. And it wasn’t because of her children, who were grown. “I lacked the passion it took to keep it up,” she writes. Once she left, she realized she had new colleagues of a sort. “I began to notice how much company I had as a former successful woman executive,” she writes. “I began to reflect on what really caused me to leave.”

What she found was research that showed that, yes, child care and elder care were cited most often as the reasons women left. But after those, the motivation most often given was lack of engagement or enjoyment in the job. And, of course, none of the three reasons are exclusive. “If a woman doesn’t really like her job, she may be less willing or able to juggle work and family responsibilities,” Turner writes. “If she is fully engaged in her work, the juggling act may be worthwhile.”

So what often looks from the outside like a simple choice to quit and take care of the children can actually be more complicated. Children are a formidable option—time spent with them can be meaningful and engaging. And if the career alternative ceases to be meaningful or engaging, some women who are able to will take the former. In fact, 43 percent of women who have children will quit their jobs at some point. Around three-quarters of them will return to the workforce, but only 40 percent will go back to working full-time. As Turner writes, for women to be engaged in the workplace, they need to feel valued. And the way many workplaces are set up, masculine ways of succeeding—fueled by stress and burnout—are often accorded more value. Take Wall Street, for example, where Roseann Palmieri worked for twenty-five years, becoming a managing director at Merrill Lynch. Suddenly, in 2010, she came to a realization: “I’m at the table. I’ve made it. I’ve networked, I’ve clawed, I’ve said ‘yes,’ I’ve said ‘no,’ I’ve put in all this time and effort and I was underwhelmed. What I was getting back was not acceptable to me.”

You are not your bank account, or your ambitiousness. You’re not the cold clay lump with a big belly you leave behind when you die. You’re not your collection of walking personality disorders. You are spirit, you are love.

—Anne Lamott

Likewise, after getting a master’s in education at Harvard and an MBA at Wharton, Paulette Light had a successful career in management consulting. Ten weeks after her daughter was born, she was back at work. “I was an exhausted, nervous wreck,” she writes. Her company tried to be flexible to keep her, telling her to “just get the job done” however she could. But “that was the problem,” she writes. “Getting the job done was all about giving everything to the job.”

So she quit, and had three more children. But leaving the business world did not mean leaving behind achievement and accomplishment. Far from it. In the time since, she’s started a preschool, cofounded a synagogue, and launched an Internet start-up, momstamp.com, focused on making moms’ lives easier. She’s also been surveying the work landscape for ways in which the doors to the business world could be more two-way and allow for the talents and skills of those who have chosen alternative paths to be put to use. A healthy economy isn’t just about the efficient allocation of capital, but of talent, as well. As more and more people—both men and women—begin to choose not to work themselves into the ground, it’s important that humane pathways back to the workforce be created so their skills are not lost.

One idea is to expand the project-based world—where businesses simply give a skilled worker a project and a deadline. “If you want high-achieving mothers back in the workforce,” Light writes, “don’t give us an office and a work week filled with facetime, give us something to get done and tell us when you need it by.”

And it’s not just women with children who are looking for an alternative. After graduating from college, Kate Sheehan quickly worked her way up in communications and by twenty-seven was a speechwriter for the CEO of a large finance company. But seven years of twelve-hour days later, she began to have second thoughts about where she was going. It wasn’t the answers that were changing for her, but the questions. “It’s not, ‘What do I want to do?’ it’s, ‘What kind of life do I want to have?’ ” she says. Her answer made her realize she had to make some changes.

I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.

—Mikhail Baryshnikov

So she moved to Cape Cod and started a communications consulting business. “There was something about being on Cape Cod—I was inspired by the people around me, in this beautiful geography, who were making it work,” she says. “I started to think, ‘I could make a more independent path work for me as well.’ I felt inspired by the natural surroundings, by being close to the ocean where I grew up. Emotionally, mentally and physically, I had more space to create.

“There are a lot of women doing what I’m doing,” she says, “but they’re doing it 15, 20 years later. I don’t want to be someone who, 15 years from now, has horrible health problems and who hasn’t created a life that feels really meaningful to me.”

According to a ForbesWoman survey, an amazing 84 percent of working women say that staying at home to raise kids is a financial luxury they aspire to. This says just as much about the fulfillment we’re getting from our work as it does about our love of our no-doubt-adorable children.

Burnout: Our Civilization’s Disease

Belgian philosopher Pascal Chabot calls burnout “civilization’s disease.” It’s certainly symptomatic of our modern age. “It is not only an individual disorder that affects some who are ill-suited to the system, or too committed, or who don’t know how to put limits to their professional lives,” he writes. “It is also a disorder that, like a mirror, reflects some excessive values of our society.”

Marie Asberg, professor at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, describes burnout as an “exhaustion funnel” we slip down as we give up things we don’t think are important. “Often, the very first things we give up are those that nourish us the most but seem ‘optional,’ ” write Mark Williams and Danny Penman in Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. “The result is that we are increasingly left with only work or other stressors that often deplete our resources, and nothing to replenish or nourish us—and exhaustion is the result.”

If I were called upon to state in a few words the essence of everything I was trying to say both as a novelist and as a preacher, it would be something like this: Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis, all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.

—Frederick Buechner

Another result of our current toxic definition of success is an epidemic of addiction. More than twenty-two million people in the United States are using illegal drugs, more than twelve million are using prescription painkillers without a medical reason, and almost nine million need prescription sleep aids to go to sleep. And the percentage of adults taking antidepressants has gone up 400 percent since 1988.

Burnout, stress, and depression have become worldwide epidemics. And as we found out when we held a Third Metric conference in London in the summer of 2013, and then one in Munich in the fall, the need to redefine success is a global need. In the United Kingdom, prescriptions for antidepressants have gone up 495 percent since 1991. In Europe, from 1995 to 2009, the use of antidepressants went up by nearly 20 percent per year. And the health consequences of stress are increasingly documented around the world. According to a Danish study, women who described work-related pressures as “a little too high” faced a 25 percent increased risk of heart disease. As June Davison, a nurse at the British Heart Foundation cautioned, “Feeling under pressure at work means stressed employees may pick up some unhealthy bad habits and add to their risk of developing heart problems.”

In Germany, more than 40 percent of workers say that their jobs have become more stressful in the past two years. Germany lost fifty-nine million workdays to psychological illness in 2011, up over 80 percent in fifteen years. When she was the German Labour Minister, Ursula von der Leyen, now Germany’s defense minister, estimated that burnout is costing the country up to ten billion euros per year. “Nothing is more expensive than sending a good worker into retirement in their mid-forties because they’re burned out,” she said. “These cases are no longer just the exception. It’s a trend that we have to do something about.”

In China, according to a 2012 survey, 75 percent of Chinese workers said their stress levels have risen in the previous year (versus a global average of 48 percent).

Table of Contents

Preface xv

Introduction 1

Well-Being 21

Wisdom 115

Wonder 173

Giving 223

Epilogue 259

Appendices 263

Acknowledgments 279

Notes 285

Index 331

Reading Group Guide

Introduction

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?

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Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
JudithCEvans More than 1 year ago
In her book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder, Arianna Huffington explains that our current view of success is making us sick. Citing her personal wake-up call that occurred after a fall due to exhaustion and lack of sleep, Huffington points out that our current view of success relies on two metrics: money and power. The author introduces a third metric, which includes well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving. This book is a refreshing invitation to exhale and step off the treadmill. Huffington's statement that we need "empty spaces" in our schedules resonated with me at a time when we are encouraged to multitask and over=program. I especially appreciated the fact that Huffington includes medical research findings as well as examples from businesses and individuals in this book. I highly recommend "Thrive" to anyone who is looking for a humane view of success.
auntazalea More than 1 year ago
Each chapter draws you into a deeper level of insight with great wit, compassion and beautiful writing. I was pleasantly surprised.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not exactly earth-shattering, this book serves as a reminder of things we already know and have heard before. Way too many facts for a self-help book  and not enough soul. I believe Arianna is sincere in her message but  the approach is business-like rather than heart-felt. .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is basically a bunch of articles re-written from a Google search. I doubt A.H. did much of the work herself other  than string  together the articles her staffers found on the Internet. Not original - no reporting from primary sources - just a rehash of various articles available to anyone who does the research themselves. 
SuspenseWriter More than 1 year ago
Not very original.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Non-fiction. I really just do not have enough good things to say about this book! Read it. There are helpful ideas and thoughts in here for everybody, but especially if you are a working woman and mother. This is a book for our times, discussing how over-stressed and over-worked we are, how we are doing some of it to ourselves, and what some solutions are to these situations. Some of it is small, like not checking your email constantly or leaving it open all the time so it pings relentlessly in your ear, others are deeper and more complex issues that may not appeal to some, like daily meditation. This is not one of those books where the privileged rich person is telling the poor person how to live. It is humble, insightful, honest, and above all else extremely helpful!
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LSodeika More than 1 year ago
Excellent read and reminder of how we can thrive through better mindfulness and conscientious living. Don't feel like you've read this stuff before! Arianna Huffington provides her personal experience and perspective, but the book is also chock-full of new studies and statistics that show us there is a new way to manage our lives in and out of the workplace. It's a great read, written by a creditable, dynamic and successful leader.
BLUEFISH99 More than 1 year ago
A very down to earth and from the heart book, challenges the writers lifestyle and how to re define life. Its about well being wisdom and wonder, the need for us to change happiness from feeling good and doing good and reconnecting ourselves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Simply amazing! 
PatFay More than 1 year ago
Huffington made her wealth by cheating writers. Writers work hard at their articles and should be paid. Yes, we like to write, but that doesn't mean we should not get paid. We have the same expenses for housing, health care and food that others have. Huffington should respect writers and pay them for the work they do for her.