Over the weekend, I devoured Thrive by Arianna Huffington (cofounder, president and editor in chief of the Huffington Post). The book was written after she had a health scare – a broken cheekbone and a gash over her eye – which happened when she took a fall due to exhaustion and lack of sleep.
The point of the book is that our success can’t just be measured by money and power, and that we need a third “metric” (like a third leg on a stool) to keep ourselves from toppling over. I figure if a woman in Huffington’s position is able to stop and smell the roses, the rest of us could try to give it a shot as well.
I’m certainly fortunate to have well-paying work that I enjoy doing, and autonomy within my work to feel a relative sense of control, but I don’t think many public-sector employees judge their success based on money and power. However that doesn’t mean that the life components Huffington is promoting (well-being, wisdom and wonder) can’t still have a huge impact on our lives and our happiness.
A few things that stood out for me:
- Words to live by regarding stress: “…and whenever I’d complain or was upset about something in my own life, my mother had the same advice: ‘Darling, just change the channel. You are in control of the clicker. Don’t replay the bad, scary movie.'”
- And… “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James. I am really going to try to keep these words of wisdom in mind when dwelling on something, which I admit I tend to do. Even the small, ridiculous things, like that person who unfollowed me on Twitter. Enough. (But was it something I said?)
- Meditation: while I have always found this topic a bit new-agey for me (and the goal of ‘clearing my mind’ unattainable), Huffington points out that religious rituals, such as praying the rosary, are actually a form of meditation as well. That, I can get on board with. I have to admit that I’m much more likely to fall asleep rosary in hand in times of need, but perhaps making it a more regular part of my daily routine will help to clear my mind and bring my focus where it needs to be.
- “Sleep your way to the top” – my favourite section. But no, it’s not like that! Huffington cites overwhelming research which supports what I’ve always known – how important sleep is for the mind and body. (One researcher believes an hour of sleep helps with weight loss more than an hour of exercise!) In the corporate world, lack of sleep is something to brag about, and Huffington wants to see a shift where we admire those who get their eight hours, instead of lauding the ones who work around the clock. I am not at all a lazy person (okay, except in the kitchen) and I am quite proud of what I manage to accomplish at work and at home with only 16 hours of wake time each day. The last time I hosted book club, I even tacked on a P.S. to the invitation e-mail: “Please remember that I turn back into a pumpkin at midnight.” My friends respected that, even though they may think I’m just a little crazy. (Sleep isn’t just for grownups, either – Huffington also writes about the importance of sleep for children, and an interesting correlation between ADHD and sleep disorders.)