Arianna Huffington Shares Tips for a Thriving Life With Philadelphia

Bénédicte Clouet, for GPA -- Think success is all about money and power? What if there was another, even more vital component? Many might not think of their own well-being when they think of success. Too few, according to Arianna Huffington.

That’s what Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, discovered in 2007. Two years into her Huffington Post venture she collapsed from exhaustion. The media entrepreneur who would only gets four hours of sleep a night saw this as a wake-up call and started to reevaluate her priorities.

On April 6, during an event organized by the World Affairs Council at the Union League of Philadelphia (140 S. Broad St.), Huffington tried to redefine what it means to be successful and presented her newest book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.

By drawing on the latest research in the fields of psychology, sports, sleep and physiology, Thrive attempts to show the profound and transformative effects of meditation, mindfulness, unplugging and giving back. Throughout her book, Huffington tries to promote new thinking in our culture, our workplaces and our lives that prioritizes being in touch with who we really are and living life on our own terms.

The book is primarily addressed to women and emphasizes how they can be at peace with the notion of not having it all by learning to get what they really want. However, the book is also rooted in a more general and gender-neutral movement that is slowly taking over the country.

During her keynote address, Huffington shared words of wit and wisdom with the audience to try to get people to lead less frantic and exhausting lives. While Sheryl Sandberg preaches leaning in as the way to get it all, Huffington reminded the audience that all we really might need is more sleep.

Beginning with the observation that being tired is the new normal, Huffington made the case for breaking society’s collective delusion that burning out is the way to success.

“Downtime is not a bug, it’s a function,” she said, pointing out that exhaustion can be detrimental to creativity. Recharging our batteries is essential, whether you do it through meditation or napping. Start with trying to sleep an hour more each night and the rest will follow naturally.

But how do we implement a lifestyle more focused on our well-being? Having diagnosed the problem, Huffington found herself struggling to adopt the right changes and, as a result, launched a six-week course with Oprah Winfrey, 12 steps “to go from merely surviving to thriving.”

With getting more sleep as the first obvious step, Huffington shared other tips and techniques to reconnect with yourself:

  • Take a five-minute meditation break during your day, just enough to create a habit and progressively build up to 15 or 20 minutes.
  • Conduct a “life audit.” This is an “Arianna-ism” that simply means you should try to be selective with your projects and activities. Do not hesitate to drop projects you have no intent to put energy into. Prioritize what you want to do and drop the unnecessary baggage. You will feel liberated.
  • Make a daily goal of creating a “gratitude list” to shift the focus from what is not working to what is positive in your life.
  • Create a “thrive tribe.” Find like-minded people who are motivated to be on the same journey as you.

Huffington does not only want to change people’s mindset; she is determined to change corporate priorities -- starting with the Huffington Post, where she has set up nap rooms, new email policies and yoga classes. Now she’s trying to convince other CEOs of the benefits of similar stress-reduction programs. When Aetna made those changes, they found a 7 percent reduction of healthcare costs and 69 more minutes of productivity each day for every employee.

Huffington, always quotable, concluded with some words worth remembering.

“Your eulogy will have little to do with your LinkedIn profile,” she said. “We only have on average 30,000 days to play the game of life and how it’s played depends on what we value.”

Prioritizing your values seems to be the key to living a more rewarding life. There should not be any tradeoff between feeling better and being better at what you’re doing. The more you take care of yourself, the better you become.

Images courtesy of SoCal Grant Makers.