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Book Review: ‘Thrive’ by Arianna Huffington

I was proud to be a laser-focused workaholic.

I used to boast about my multi-tasking skills. I even went so far as to connect my work computer to my elliptical with a bungee cord so I could read emails and trade publications while exercising.

I remember bragging to a top-executive that I only slept three hours a night, so that I could exceed everyone’s expectations as a new mother and superstar employee.

I skimmed books, listened to podcasts and networked with many women about finding a way to “have it all.” Even when I changed my career to focus on my family values, I was still conditioned to live a harried life. I scheduled my day from early morning to late evening and multi-tasked through much of it. Additionally, I felt like every item on my to-do list should be achieved with high merit.

I thought I was thriving because I was “successful” with a promising career and beautiful family. Oh, how I wish Arianna Huffington’s Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder would’ve been written 20 years ago when I started my first job and had to balance work and taking care of myself. Perhaps, I would’ve learned better habits to not just tackle life, but to truly enjoy it at every step a long the way.

Thrive is part autobiography, part scientific research and part self-help book about living a less stressful, more intuitively passionate life. Huffington delivers her message like a comforting older sister, who says, “I did it wrong and you may have, too. But, with little steps, we can make a positive difference in our lives and the world around us.”

The book is broken into four tenets that focus on well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving. Thoughtful insights, personal anecdotes, inspirational messages, scientific case studies and resources are included throughout the 261-pages as well as a lengthy appendix. Whether it’s the recommendation to add naps and meditation daily or embrace a gadget-free ritual or regular volunteer opportunity, Thrive is filled with ideas for taking small steps to prioritize what we value.

 A shift to redefine success may start with the individual, but needs to be supported in the workplace, too. Huffington doesn’t just strongly suggest this, she embodies it. Her media company, The Huffington Post, has encouraged employees to take breaks, schedule long vacations, use nap rooms and attend weekly yoga classes. In addition, the book highlights case studies about how companies that have implemented wellness programs often show financial growth and increases in productivity.

This book struck a cord on so many levels. I highly recommend it to anyone who values authentic joy and flourishing personally, professionally and as a community. It got me thinking about how I can tweak my life to be even more present and slow down.

 Book Review: Arianna Huffington's 'Thrive' with Action Items

“Through mindfulness, I found a practice that helped bring me fully present and in the moment, even in the most hectic circumstances.” (p.39)

  • Practice Mindfulness: I will practice mindfulness using the book’s noted “habit breaking” technique: each day for a week I will pick a habit like brushing my teeth and pay attention to all my thoughts and senses while doing it. This is to help learn to be mindful.

“What study after study shows is that meditation and mindfulness training profoundly affect every aspect of our lives – our bodies, our minds, our physical health, and our emotional and spiritual well-being.” (p. 42)

  • Sample Meditation: I will sample meditation using the Headspace app, every day for three weeks and then journal to assess if I feel differently.

“Our creativity, ingenuity, confidence, leadership and decision-making can all be enhanced simply by getting enough sleep.” (p. 75)

  • Consistent Bedtime: I will establish a bedtime and commit to it, so that I can wake up without an alarm and be refreshed in the morning.

“Spending more time in natural settings makes us more generous and community oriented.” (p. 97)

  • Embrace Nature: I will determine a few natural settings to explore regularly and pick at least one as a safe haven.
  • I will experiment with device-free times to take in the wonder and peace of nature.

“I’ve come to believe that living in a state of gratitude is the gateway to grace…write down a list of positive events at the close of a day – and why the event made them happy – lowered their self-reported stress and gave them a greater sense of calm at night.” (p. 126)

  • Write a gratitude list: I will capture a gratitude list through Happy Tapper’s app or discuss with my son and husband each night.

“Pushing back against our obnoxious roommate (negative self talk) with a dose of wisdom” is very important. (p. 156)

  • Create a new positive self-talk: I will come up with a recurring theme or mantra to counteract the negative “I’m not super mom” self-talk.

“Go-getters are good; Go-givers are better.” (p. 235)

  • Volunteer: I will explore resources to volunteer with my family such as allforgood.org.

Do any of these ignite a fire and motivate you to make small steps toward better health and happiness? If so, please comment below and we can motivate each other.

 

Arianna Huffinton’s Thrive as well as her latest bestseller, The Sleep Revolution

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Images courtesy of Amazon.com and jesadaphorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

9 Comments

  1. I’m excited to add this one to me “to read” list. Arianna has done some amazing things with HuffPost that I respect greatly. Thank you Caryn for the share and insights! Stopping by from #SITSSharfest, have an amazing week!

  2. Thanks for sharing your book review with #SITSSharefest. I have wanted to read this book. I left my full time job a year ago to be a SAHM. I have a chronic illness which has since made me realize that I can’t possibly accomplish everything on my to do list with perfection. It was a hard lesson to learn but I’ve been happier with changing my outlook. I will have to check this book out as I love to read and blog about books.

    • Caryn Sullivan

      I’m sorry to hear about your chronic illness. It sounds like your blog is a wonderful outlet to focus on some of the things you love like your family and reading. I think you will like “Thrive”, I also enjoyed “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. Sending my best to you.

  3. It’s so crazy that you mentioned this book… while chatting with some people I met at a bbq this weekend, the subject of meditation came up and one girl said she had just finished reading this book. Sadly, I couldn’t remember the name though I remembered that it was written by Arianna Huffington… Will now add it to my Goodreads “must-read” list–this looks excellent and I appreciate the review you have here :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog space so that I could find yours here :) Hope you are enjoying a beautiful, long weekend!

    • Caryn Sullivan

      I can’t wait to hear what you think of it after you read it. I am now a huge Arianna Huffington’s fan. She writes like she is our friend (or a smart big sister) so I found myself relating and hoping to be more like her. Happy Monday.

  4. I’m a huge fan of The Huffington Post and was planning on doing some reading on Ariana Huffington because she’s going to be a keynote speaker at Blogher (my first blog conference!). Your review of the book was wonderful — the “Quotes and Actions to Help Me Redefine Success” was my favorite — and I’ll definitely have to pick this book up now!

    • Caryn Sullivan

      Bethany – I can’t wait to hear what you think of the book. Good luck with your first blogging conference. I’d love to know what you think.

  5. Great review. I also read the book and found it very relevant and inspirational. I hope to be able to find ways to incorporate mindfulness, giving back, wonder and wellness in my daily life. As a mom of three, multitasking is so much a part of my daily routine that it will definitely be a challenge but I am hoping to focus on one or two near terms goals such as practicing mindfulness and adopting the stoic (Aurelius) view of things, “The quality of our day is up to each one of us. We have little power to choose what happens, but we have complete power over how we respond.”

    • Caryn Sullivan

      Love the quote. Thanks. I’m trying to tell myself to play around with meditation and see if it works to make me more present. I started using the Headspace app with 10-min exercises.

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