What is the book “Thrive” about?
Arianna Huffington says that the thought of writing a book came to her when she was giving a speech to the graduates of Smith College in 2013. She was treating it very seriously, remembering her daughters, who were also about to graduate from college. All educated young people eagerly await the moment when they will finally be able to apply their knowledge and succeed. Standing before the graduates, speakers often talk about how they should climb the corporate ladder and be successful. But Arianna Huffington asked her listeners to define what “success” stands for. Yes, the education gives you the right to occupy your rightful place in the sun. But to get to the top of the world isn’t the goal; it is to change this world for the better.
How do you define a good life? What is prosperity? In ancient times those were the questions of philosophy. Today a good life is described as having material wealth and extensive career opportunities: how expensive is the house we can afford and how high we can climb the ladder. This issue is particularly sensitive for women who’re still cannot compare with men on the level of income. But Huffington suggests that success means entirely different things.
Indeed, the public stereotype of success is having money and power; those two things are practically synonymous with each other. Perhaps this is indeed the case but only in the short term. Arianna Huffington says that, when looking at a bigger picture, money and power become a two-legged stool – shaky and unstable. They may hold us up temporarily, but sooner or later we’re going to topple over. It happens to a large number of so-called successful people, and Huffington herself wasn’t an exception.
On April 6, 2007, she fainted at her home and woke up in a pool of her blood: when she fell, she hit her head on the angle of a table, damaged her eye and broke her cheekbone. Fainting was a result of nervous exhaustion and lack of sleep. After that incident, she underwent a complete body check (Head MRI, EKG, etc.), but the results showed no internal severe problems with health. It was a textbook occupational burnout, and while waiting in line for doctors, she had a lot of time to think about life.
The Huffington Post gained popularity for two years straight. Arianna Huffington has ranked among the top 100 of the world’s most influential people; her photos were on the covers of national newspapers and magazines. After her fainting, she asked herself a question: was this the life she really wanted? She was working without a weekend for 18 hours a day to develop her magazine, strengthening business while losing control of her own life. From a traditional point of view, she was an incredibly successful woman with a beautiful career. But it wasn’t a successful life. Fainting has become a wake-up call for Arianna. It was time to change the concept of success.
The price of traditional success for women is higher than for men. For a woman, job stress can increase the risk of heart disease by almost 40 percent, and 60 percent can increase the risk of diabetes. Meanwhile, studies show that the level of stress for the last 30 years has grown by 18 percent.
The previous criteria for success can no longer be applied – so said Huffington to the graduates of Smith College. To live a happy and harmonious life, we need a third metric for defining success, which consists of four things: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.
Well-being is closely related to our physical and mental health. If we struggle to reach career heights not paying any attention to our health, it will end up too high of a price. A lack of sleep is especially costly. It was at least partially connected to the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, as well as to the Chernobyl nuclear accident and many other tragedies on a global scale. Air- and railway accidents mainly are due to the staff’s chronic fatigue.
But, in our new definition of success, the concern for money is apparently not enough. It is necessary to protect and develop our human capital. Huffington tells how one day in Greece, where she grew up, their family was visited by a friend who was a very successful Greek businessman. He looked incredibly exhausted, but at a table, he would enthusiastically tell stories about his business. It didn’t impress Arianna’s mother, who said to him that even though he had his success, he needed to take proper care of his health. Soon after that, he ended up in a hospital.
We always don’t have enough time, and because of that, we aren’t able to look back and appreciate the beauty of life. When your life lacks wonder or well-being, you cannot achieve wisdom. The world is full of smart leaders, but Huffington believes that there are no wise ones. After all, to be wise, you need to be willing to cast aside all your gadgets, even for a short amount of time, and to look around and reflect. All philosophies and religions think that God is within us, but we don’t want to look inside ourselves, we just don’t have enough time for it.
Willingness to give yourself, your sympathy and your compassion are significant for the new understanding of success. Studies show that comfort and altruism increase our well-being.
Arianna Huffington encourages finding a way to the right success, a way through harmony and peace with yourself. But it isn’t simple – it is difficult for us to change our deep-rooted habits and the general perception.
Summary and 10 Ideas of “Thrive”
Idea №1 Burnout is the disease of our civilization.
Idea №2 The company’s welfare and the health of its employees are directly connected to each other, especially if considering the long-term effects.
Idea №3 We can practice self-healing, whatever our working conditions are.
Idea №4 «Compassionate Management» means the employers and their employees are working together in harmony.
Idea №5 Toxic definition of success and heavy reliance on gadgets are very negatively affecting the younger generation.
Idea №6 Recipe for success is a full night’s sleep.
Idea №7 Working overtime won’t help to increase productivity or achieve any record results.
Idea №8 Walking dramatically sets our mind for high productivity.
Idea №9 Caring for pets helps us to reduce stress, softens us and evokes warm feelings.
Idea №10 Be compassionate and help others.
The main idea of the Arianna Huffington’s book: If we won’t achieve wisdom and might, we’ll never have enough, we’ll never feel any satisfaction, no matter how significant were our income or our career achievements. We’ll always feel the pressure while endlessly chasing the proverbial dragon, until we won’t learn how to thrive in harmony with ourselves and with the world around us.
She quotes her Greek compatriot Archimedes, who wanted to find a fulcrum and he’d be able to move the whole world around. Arianna Huffington wishes her readers that their place in life would become their fulcrum, so that they can change the world for the better. Ideas being expressed by Arianna Huffington are well-known, though they are very resonant in our modern society.
Pros and Cons:
- Valuable ideas and useful advice; inspiring examples; simple exposition.
- Recurring repetition of ideas.
About Author Arianna Huffington
Arianna Huffington (born 15.07.1950, Athens) is a Greek-American writer. Co-founder and owner “The Huffington Post“. Born in the family of a Greek newspaper owner. At the age of 16, she moved to England, where she received a degree in economics from Cambridge (M.A., 1972). There she became the first student of foreign origin to head the Cambridge Union. After graduation, she lived in London, and in 1980 moved to the United States. Coming in 1986, she married, settled in California.