Develop a Mind to Thrive: Arianna Huffington (And Why Work / Life Balance is a Myth)

We want this to be the year that you truly thrive! We couldn’t think of a better person to talk about success, how to take care of yourself and your business and what it really means to thrive in 2020 than Arianna Huffington. As we put away 2019 and look forward to a new year, we are challenging you — the change creators—to:

Take a fresh look at your life, your mission, and your health.

We’ve wanted to interview Arianna Huffington since we launched Change Creator magazine. Not only is she one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 most influential women out there, but she embraces the social entrepreneurial spirit of make money, make a difference beautifully.

(This article first appeared in Issue #7 of Change Creator magazine). 

Now with the launch of Thrive Global, Arianna is putting her money, her time and energy where her beliefs are, challenging the status quo of 24/7 workweeks, and burnout. With valuable resources, a global approach, and a fresh perspective on health and wellness Thrive Global is set to permeate our consciousness in 2017.

How to Develop a Mind to Thrive

Today, we see the Arianna Huffington that embraces wellness, that is a staunch advocate for women’s rights, and as someone who challenges the notion of stress, burnout, and the overconfident belief that we can get by on less sleep.

Today, she’s the first to admit that her very definition of success has changed over the years:

“I would say my definition [of success] is less conventional today than it was ten years ago. Now I think the true definition of success should start with: do you feel happy and fulfilled, do you feel like your life has meaning, and are able to spend enough time with the people that you love?”

Even a few short years ago, Arianna defined her life and measured success much differently. We can learn a lot from her experience. How did Arianna’s values change over the years? How did she discover her life’s work? When did she decide to share her hard-fought wisdom with the world? If we want to thrive, we must first understand that there’s more to life than money, power, fame or even doing a job that you love.

A Wake-up Call

If we are going to challenge conventions, we must first look within ourselves and acknowledge that there is a problem worth changing.

“To end the misery that has afflicted the human condition for thousands of years, you have to start with yourself and take responsibility for your inner state at any given moment. That means now.” —Eckhart Tolle

For Arianna, this look at her life came from a broken cheekbone and a nasty gash over her eye, the result of collapse from total, utter exhaustion.

Here she was growing one of the world’s largest and most influential media companies, as co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, she defined her success as power, influence, and wealth.

Waking up in a pool of her own blood did more than wake up her sensibilities; it started a cultural shift. “This isn’t what success feels like,” she thought. So began her search for what she now calls the third metric of success — finding true wisdom.

More Wisdom. Less Burnout.

 

With all the technological advancements we have at our disposal, with so many ways to discover our world, learn about what’s going on, why do we lack true wisdom?

As Arianna says, “We are starved of wisdom.” We are running on empty. In our interview with Arianna, she continues on to say, “Thrive Global is a response to the escalating global epidemic of stress and burnout which is costing hundreds of billions of dollars per year in health-care costs, in high turnover, employee disengagement, and productivity. ”

It’s time to redefine our priorities. If we want to embrace true wisdom in our lives, to discover that source of inspiration within all of us, we need to give back to the well, and that starts with taking care of our health.

In the past few issues of Change Creator magazine, you may have noticed a shift in our consciousness, not only in the type of content we’ve been providing you but also in our deliberate efforts to give you valuable personal health and wellness takeaways.

If you don’t take care of you, how are you going to discover those solutions that are vital to changing your world?

What it Means to Thrive

When asked about the role of money in society today and its impact on human behavior, Arianna explained:

“Right now, our society’s definition of success is still largely about money and power. In fact, success, money, and power have practically become synonymous, and are each used as proxies for the others. This might work in the short-term, but eventually, money and power simply by themselves are like a two-legged stool—you can balance on them for a while, but eventually, you’re going to topple over. And more and more people around the world, at all levels of conventional success, are toppling over.”

As we have seen in Arianna’s personal transformation throughout the years, we must learn to define success more holistically. Systems, corporations, and people are “toppling over” because they haven’t embraced the third metric of success.

We are living in a time of great change, yes, but we must not forget that many of us still define our value based on our pay-check, fame, or even influence over others. We have bought into the myth that even when we don’t define our values by money or power, we are living a balanced life: That if we have a job, a career, or a mission that we love, our life is somehow balanced, and we should, therefore, be happy. This is inherently false.

Are We Unbalanced?

Although our society has begun to evolve the definition of success, we’re still missing the mark. If we look at a scale, where we place work on one side and life on the other, we are—by its very definition opposing both sides. Arianna contends that this definition of success also needs to be reexamined and changed: That life and work balance is a myth. We will never achieve work/life balance because they should never be opposing forces in our lives.

For far too long, we have been an unbalanced society, talking about life and work balance as though they shouldn’t mix well together—that in order to have happiness, you are required to be in a constant struggle for resources, time, and priorities.

How many of us—even those of us who love our work—have thought, “My life is out of balance,” because we’ve spent too much time at work, and neglected the rest of our lives.

We’re here to tell you, this does not have to be the way: Stop struggling. Stop wasting time and energy. Stop hoping that this will be the year you spend more time with your family. What about your work? It doesn’t have to take over your life, even if you love it. Remember, the quality of work is more important than the quantity of work. Let’s stop this dichotomy.

“I definitely don’t believe in balance, for too long, we’ve had this notion of balance that not only doesn’t work but is premised on a myth…

The truth – and the basis for Thrive Global – is that work and life, well-being and productivity, are not on opposite sides — so they don’t need to be balanced. They’re on the same side and rise in tandem. Increase one and you increase the other. So there’s nothing to balance; increasing well-being and the productivity that goes along with it is a win-win, for work and life.”

We need to start approaching our lives, our priorities, and our values as a whole; we are not separate parts. Taking care of who we help us be better at everything we do. Arianna is not alone in this thinking; science backs her up:

“Researchers report decrements in sustained performance as a function of fatigue, especially during and following one or more nights of complete sleep loss, or longer periods of reduced or fragmented sleep. Sleep loss appears to result in reduced reaction time, decreased vigilance, perceptual and cognitive distortions, and changes in effect.” 

(Source: Work & Stress: An International Journal of Work, Health & Organisations http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02678378908256939).

These are not just ideological theories; lack of sleep decreases productivity. When we take care of ourselves, we’ll not only feel better, but our work will be better. So the next time you feel like staying up late to work on a project, skipping your morning workout, or not giving yourself a break, consider this: you are making choices, not just for you, but for our world.

Arianna knows more than anyone how important it is to slow down to do your best work. We asked Arianna, what changes she made in her life when she had her wake-up call. She tells us:

“I made a lot of changes, most of which had to do with sleeping more, slowing down, and making time to disconnect and recharge with things like meditation, hiking, taking breaks. And though this meant working less, it also meant working better. I came to realize that being productive isn’t about the quantity of work, but quality. And that’s the basis for my new company Thrive Global. As the science shows, when we prioritize our well-being, our creativity, well-being, and productivity all go up across the board.”

Make Money and a Difference

“A select few disrupters – the social entrepreneurs – develop, build, and scale their solutions in ways that bring about truly revolutionary change” (Huffington, Forward to Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works)

If we want to scale our efforts up a few notches, and be those social disruptors, we must first define our values and know our work will play a vital role in this world. As Arianna says:

“I think social entrepreneurship is incredibly important and will play a vital part in redefining the role of business in the world, which we urgently need to do. Our world is facing multiple crises and government action alone isn’t going to be enough to meet our challenges.”

How do we define and prioritize our values? First, we acknowledge that to build sustainable, long-term companies, we must take care of our personal resources. If an entrepreneur wants to make a living and a difference, what needs to happen? Arianna explains:

“First, it’s about values. Entrepreneurs—and especially, social entrepreneurs—need to define and prioritize their core values, not only in their business but also in their lives. This is important because they need to launch and grow their business in a way so that their personal resources are as sustainable for the long-term as whatever product or service or technology they’re marketing. It’s like what they say when you get on airplanes: Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.”

Next, we must acknowledge that values can change over time, that the status quo of our society can and will change. Every generation can do things differently. Today, millennials are thinking about their lives differently from previous generations. They aren’t happy to just “find a job,” but also require that job to have meaning or shared values with their lives.

When we understand that the undercurrent of meaning for our lives is changing, we see firsthand the impact of people like Arianna Huffington, who has been advocating these changes in our thinking for many years.

Arianna Huffington, Jennifer Morgan

Our Values are Shifting

As we have seen, our values guide us. They help us make tough choices.

Imagine then that you are faced with having to decide between two new jobs. Both positions appear equal, but one role pays more. Easy choice? Take the job that pays more, right? But what if that job paid more but didn’t align with your values, and the other one did. Do you take the lesser paying role whose values are yours, or do you take the job that pays more?

These decisions are what drive us each day. We could justify taking that bigger pay-check. It’s how our society has chosen to reward our hard work; it is one indicator of success that we’re used to.

Or, we could put our lives where our values live, and seek out work that aligns with who we want to be. The great news: we are changing our values. The better news: we might not have to make these kinds of choices, anymore.

If we align our values, do work we believe in, and take care of our greatest resource—ourselves — the money, the influence, the success will come.

  • 7 out of 10 millennials believe their personal values are shared by the organizations they work for.

  • 56% of millennials have ruled out working for a particular organization because of its values, standards, or conduct.

  • 49% of millennials didn’t work on a project because it went against their personal values or ethics, even if the company they worked for behaved in an ethical manner.

(Source: Deloitte)

Harnessing Technology to Move Forward

Technology has always shaped our lives. It makes the impossible possible and gives us more transparency in our world. This has allowed human empathy to reach further than ever before and now people have a desire to help solve problems around the world.

When we asked Arianna for her thoughts about the role technology has played in the shift towards conscious business, she said:

“Technology is obviously a powerful force in our world today with consequences both good and bad. It’s brought us to an inflection point in history where technology has given us powers that sped up the pace of life and change beyond our capacity to digest it.”

We know that technology is never an inherent problem and it isn’t going away. Why not embrace it? Through technology, we now have a greater sightline into the conditions of humanity.

As Arianna contents, we need to use technology, “to help us serve our best interests… The conscious business will clearly need to harness this technology and innovation to not only come up with new solutions and make them more effective but also to help people integrate them into their lives.”

Arianna Huffington

The Future of Thrive Global

After leaving Huffington Post, we wondered what lessons Arianna learned there that she’s now applying to her work in Thrive Global, and she told us:

“Some things are the same and some things are different. What the companies have in common is a passion, a sense of mission and teams that are incredibly dedicated. But what’s different – what I learned from the launch of HuffPost – is that we’re all more productive when we take the time to recharge.”

The mission of Thrive Global, as Arianna says, is to “change the way we work and live and end the collective delusion that burnout is the necessary price for success. As the latest science shows, our performance actually improves when we make our health and well­being a priority.”

Thrive Global promises to…”revolutionize the way we work and live by ending the burnout epidemic with three key components in their action plan for 2017:

  1. Prioritize the wellbeing of employees: Thrive Global is creating employee wellness programs, training, and workshops that help companies improve recruitment and reduce the wasted health-care costs relating to stress and burnout. Uber, SAP, Accenture

  2. The Media Platform: This is the hub of the Thrive Global brand where you will find inspirational stories from other leaders such as Jeff Bezos, Howard Shultz, Danny Bader, even Ashton Kutcher in which they talk about how they thrive. She explains, “The Thrive Journal is designed to be the global hub for the conversation on productivity and well-being. This features not just the latest science, but also commentary by new role models showing how you can be in the arena and be a successful leader without burning out.”

  3. Commerce: There is both a pop-up store and an e-commerce site with products sourced that will help entrepreneurs reduce stress and improve health in their lives. “And third is our e-commerce platform that offers our curated selection of the best well-being technology, products, and services,” Arianna says.

Thrive Global’s main objective right now is expansion: “Since our stress and burnout epidemic is global, Thrive Global was global from day one of launch. I hope our 2017 will include a great acceleration in the global culture shift that’s already happening to roll back this burnout epidemic.”

It’s up to us, the change creators — those brave souls who look inside themselves, discover a global problem, align our values with our lives, and then use whatever means necessary to disrupt norms around the world. 

As we move forward, let’s continue to thrive.

If we want to improve the conditions of our world, let’s start with improving our lives. Here are some ways we can do that:

Take Micro Steps for Maximum Impact 

What can you do, each month to take better care of yourself? By now, most of us have abandoned our list of “resolutions.” It’s easy to get bogged down by the day-to-day struggles, and commitments. Sure, getting more sleep, becoming more productive, aligning our values — these all sound so good, but how do we get there.

Let’s make this year we make lasting changes. That starts with making small, or as Arianna calls them, “micro-changes” in our lives that will lead to maximum results. And, guess what? We’ve done the planning for you.

Here are 12 little changes you can make in your life each month this year:

12 Months, 12 Small Changes, One Amazing Year: A Guide to Thrive in 2020 (And Beyond)

Inspired by Arianna Huffington & Thrive Global

“Our mission is to change the way we work and live and end the collective delusion that burnout is the necessary price for success. As the latest science shows, our performance actually improves when we make our health and well­being a priority.” 

Forget about the so-called New Year’s resolutions—likely named as such because they usually only last a little into the New Year. We’ve come up with something far better. We’ve created this list of game-changers with you — the change creators– in mind. Because if you want to have maximum impact in this world, change starts with you. 

Here are 12 small things you can do this year to create new and lasting great habits and thrive:

For the first few months of this year, let’s focus on taking care of ourselves, and look inward. If we feel better, and take that time to focus on us this year, we can discover that well of inspiration that resides within us all. 

Month 1

Take a Vitamin D Supplement. 

For many of us, the winter months bring endless cloudy days. This lack of sunlight can cause Vitamin D deficiency which drains our libidos and vitality and can make us seasonally depressed. You’ll need to take four times the usual dose in Winter months. 

Source: Mercola

Month 2

Do a Digital Disconnect. 

This month, go digital-free for one hour per day. Disconnect your smartphones, your televisions, your computer — everything digital. By doing this every day for one month, you should be able to listen to your own inner wisdom and experience deeper connections with those around you. 

If you do this for the month of February, you’ll soon start seeing connections you didn’t notice before because you were too busy staring at that screen. The world is full of wonders; you just have to look up.

Month 3

Do a weekly brain dump. 

Once a week, take 20 minutes to write down everything you want to accomplish for the week ahead. Don’t overthink this; just do it. Simply the act of writing it down will relieve stress and give you more focus for the week ahead. You’re welcome. 

Month 4

Take a self-inventory test. 

Why not take a few minutes to get to know yourself better? There are many free online resources and self-inventory tests available. Find one that catches your interest and try it. 

Recommended: 16 Personalities

Spend 30 minutes or so answering a series of questions on a sliding scale and learn more about your personality. Where does your energy come from? Are you intuitive? Here, you’ll get a lot of free information on who you are. 

Month 5

Meditate.

Meditation isn’t just for seniors or yoga enthusiasts. Many of Steve Jobs’s brilliance came from his meditative moments. Try a deep breathing exercise by focusing on each breath—in and out—right before you sleep or the next time you’re stressed. Start with one minute every day in May and eventually dedicate 15-20 minutes to meditation and being at peace.

Book suggestion: Deep Meditation – Pathway to Personal Freedom

Month 6

Go for a walk. 

By getting out and spending time in nature, you will not only boost your mood, but you will also boost your productivity. This month, make it your micro mission to go for a walk outside once a week. Connect with nature and rejuvenate yourself. 

Source: Change Creator: Why Nature is Essential for Good Business

Month 7

Wake up that heart.

Get in some cardio and feel good about yourself. This month, we want you to get your heart rate pumping. Even a couple of times a week can improve mood and stave off depression. Be sure to set concrete goals. Plan to give your heart a workout at least twice per week for twenty minutes and build up from there. Recruiting a friend to join you for motivation will make it more enjoyable. 

Source: ScienceDirect: Preventative Medicine

Month 8

Go to bed earlier. 

We’re not saying you need to get 8 or 9 hours of sleep right away, but that’s where you should be headed. This month, we want you to turn out the lights and go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night. While you may find that initially, you just lie awake for those first 15 minutes, over time, you will see a change in your sleeping patterns. Eventually, your body will become accustomed to going to sleep earlier, and your health and productivity will benefit from getting the sleep you need.

Let’s challenge ourselves in the final stretch of the year to give back by focusing on productivity, leadership and our missions. 

Month 9

Improve your productivity by ditching the cell phone by your bed. 

Stop trying to answer texts, emails, or just scrolling through Facebook before you go to bed. It will consume your time, and drain you of your sleep. 

Each night, make your sleeping area a no-phone zone. 

Month 10

Master your financial well-being. 

Before you blow the budget on holiday gifts, why not take charge of your financial health this year? Consider how much more of an impact you’ll have when you take care of this aspect of your life. 

  1. Get yourself a plan. 

  2. Not all debt is equal. Pay bad debt before good debt.

  3. Expect the unexpected. Create an emergency fund.

  4. Start saving. Yesterday.

  5. Protect yourself from risk with insurance.

Source & More Information: Thrive Global: 5 Things Everyone Should Know About Financial Well-Being

Month 11

Turn contentious arguments into civil discussions.

Learn about how to fight fairly and without rancor this month: good for the Thanksgiving table, and the boardroom! 

Tips: 

  • Listen carefully

  • Mind your body language

  • Don’t argue to win

  • Be understanding of the other person’s situation

  • Know the facts

  • Work towards beneficial outcomes for all involved

Month 12

Experience art and wonder this month. 

Let beauty and wonder inspire you this month as we conclude 2017. “Museums and galleries remain among the few oases that can deliver what has become increasingly rare in our world,” Arianna writes, so why not spend some time touring your local art gallery or museum this month? Some museums offer free admission on certain days of the week. 

A Final Thought: 

We’d love to hear about your amazing year of micro-steps and big changes! Tell us about the changes you are making in your life. 

Disclaimer: All exercise and supplement recommendations should be discussed and approved by your primary care physician.  

Sleep Your Way to the Top 

Arianna is a dedicated sleep advocate. Her mantra is clear: “Sleep your way to the top.” And it’s more than just a punny catchphrase. She means it: If you want to get to the top of any area of your life, you need to get some sleep. We love this! Not only is she giving us permission to get some (dare we say, much needed) rest, she’s telling us it will get us further ahead in life.

We couldn’t do a feature edition about Arianna if we didn’t talk about sleep. She wrote the book on sleep. The science confirms it: we need to get a better night’s sleep. Gone are the days when we should brag about how little sleep we get, and walk around as working zombies. For you to be your best this year, you got to get some zzz’s.

Here are three quick tips to get you started:

  1. Determine how much sleep you need — Many of us underestimate the amount of actual sleep we need. Usually, that’s between 7-9 hours of actual sleep per night.

  2. Keep a sleep diary. Many of us underestimate the amount of sleep we actually get. How do you feel when you wake up every morning? If you are still groggy, you are not getting enough sleep, even if you’ve been in bed for 8 hours or more.

  3. Great leaders sleep. Give yourself permission to protect your sleep if you want to have maximum impact.

Previous ArticleNext Article
As Director of Content Strategy, Amy spends her time whipping up ideas to inspire young entrepreneurs to change the world and make money while doing it. With over 20 years of writing and entrepreneurial experience, Amy knows great content. Download a free copy of the magazine by clicking here.
>