Arianna Huffington thinks we need to redefine success.
Way back in April 2007, her hard work was finally paying off. The Huffington Post was going from strength to strength just two years after its launch, while Time Magazine had just named her one of the world’s most successful women. But, Arianna was about to find out just how brittle success can be.
She collapsed from exhaustion and lack of sleep. Waking up in a pool of blood, her cheekbone was broken and her health in tatters. Suddenly, she was aware of the impact stress and sleep-deprivation was having on her day to day life.
‘This was a classic wake-up call’, she recalls in her new book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Living a Happier Life (£16.99; WH Allen). ‘Looking back on my life, I had other times when I should have woken up but I didn’t. This time I really did, including daily practices to keep me on track – and out of doctors waiting rooms. The result is a more fulfilling life, one that gives me breathing spaces and a deeper perspective’.
So, what has Arianna discovered? She calls it the ‘Third Metric’ – another way to measure success outside of the other two masculine metrics (money and power) through the four W’s: Wellbeing, Wonder, Wisdom and Willingness. She wants us to ‘thrive rather than merely succeed’, no matter what we want to achieve, to finally find contentment in all areas of our lives.
Here are just five ways to make the ‘Third Metric’ work for you…
Learn to disconnect
‘Every conversation I had seemed to eventually come around to the dilemmas we are all facing – the stress of over-busyness, overworking, on social media…the space, the gaps, the pauses had all but disappeared in my own life and in the lives of so many I knew’
How to do it: ‘Technology has been very good at giving us what we want, but not always what we need. So now, many in the tech world have realised there’s a growth opportunity for applications and tools that help us focus and filter all the data and distraction…The good news is that you don’t have to go offline for very long to reset things.’
‘Unmake’ destructive habits
‘Every time we look at our watches it’s later than we think. It seemed to me that the people who were genuinely thriving in their lives were the ones who had made room for wellbeing, wisdom, wonder and giving.
How to do it: ‘One of the best – and most easily available – ways we can become happy and healthier is through mindfulness and meditation.
Try this: ‘Each day for a week you choose a habit such as brushing your teeth, drinking your morning coffee, or taking a shower, and simply pay attention to what’s happening while you do it. It’s taking something we’ve placed on autopilot and putting it back on the list of things we pay attention to.’
Live with gratitude
‘In our daily lives moving from struggle to grace requires practice and commitment. But it’s in our hands…Gratitude works its magic by serving as an antidote to negative emotions.’
How to do it: ‘Whenever we find ourselves in a stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off mindset, we can remember that there is another way and open ourselves to grace.’
Try this: ‘Take a moment to be grateful for this day, for being alive, for anything…Oxford clinical psychologist Mark Williams suggests the ‘ten finger gratitude exercise’, in which once a day you list ten things you’re grateful for and count them on your fingers. Sometimes it won’t be easy, but that’s that the point – ‘intentionally bringing into awareness the tiny, unnoticed elements of the day’.’
Listen to your inner hunch
‘We’ve all experienced it: a hunch, an inkling, our inner voice telling us to do something or not to do something. We hear the message, and it feels right, even if we can’t explain why…one big source of our wisdom is [this] intuition, our inner knowing.’
How to do it: ‘Feeding and nurturing our intuition, and living a life in which we can make use of its wisdom, is one key way to thrive, at work and in life.’
Try this: ‘For me, the easiest way to lose touch with my intuition is to be sleep deprived…Lack of sleep depletes our self control. Meditation, yoga and mindfulness can [also] help us to still the noise of the world so we can listen to our inner voice.’
‘When we’re living a life of perpetual time famine, we rob ourselves of our ability to experience… wonder, our sense of delight in the mysteries of the universe, as well as the everyday occurences and small miracles that fill our lives.’
How to do it: ‘Fully giving our attention to anything – or anyone – is precisely what is becoming more and more rare in our hyperconnected world, where there are so many stimuli competing for our time and attention and where multitasking is king’.
Try this: ‘The museum experience provides us with mystery, wonder, surprise, self-forgetfulness – vital emotions most undermined by our always-connected 24/7 digital culture.’
For more tips from Ariana Huffington, buy Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Living a Happier Life (£16.99; WH Allen).