Stop the Glorification of Busy and Thrive | Beth's Blog

Stop the Glorification of Busy and Thrive


I just returned last week from vacation with my husband and children at the Jersey Shore where I grew up.   It was great to sit on the beach and do nothing, get lots of walking in, and hang out with family.    Above all, it is a great escape from your never ending to do list.   I did take along a few books, including Ariana Huffington’s Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.

The book is about how to reframe success away from money and power to a third metric.  She identifies this as “thriving,” where you get enough sleep, take care of yourself, and work isn’t your whole life.    Over the past year,  I’ve been trying to incorporate thriving into my life – most recently with integrating “walking” into work and embracing the personal analytics movement to pay attention to health.

When I got back online, I discovered Guy Kawasaki’s excellent visual review of the book on SlideShare created with Canva.   I thought he captured the essence of the book’s important message.   The first point – redefine success as making a difference in the world – is something that people like us who  work in the social change sector have already done.  We think about that every day and try to live it.     But, unfortunately, sometimes we are so driven by passion and compassion that we don’t follow Ariana’s other tips and end up burning out or a working and living with a high functioning depression.

She talks a lot about self-care and nurturing yourself.    Whether this is taking time to meditate, walking, take breaks from the screen, eat healthy foods that don’t promote stress, get enough sleep, spend time with family, or whatever that is besides grinding away at work.    The biggest challenge is making this part of your life is doing it before you reach a crisis stage – and not feeling “guilty” or “selfish” for taking care of yourself.

Thriving requires taking a digital detox – going offline and focusing on the other people you are with.   I’ve written a lot about mindfulness and managing your attention in an age of distraction, including the use of “conscious computing tools.”   But it is also important to just turn off the damn computer and mobile phone and spend time with your loved ones or your own thoughts.

I love the takeaway around “Keep on Learning,”  this is what has fueled me over the span of my work.  However,  after you’ve been working in your field for decades or you are overworking yourself, you can be in danger of reaching a place of ennui – where nothing excites or interests you.    I’ve found that one way to avoid this is to find a new perspective on a topic or dip your toes in a completely new topic area.    Often, that’s where I discover something that can inspires a whole new wave of learning.

Thriving is about being intuitive and being able t listen to your inner voice and not be so busy that you can’t hear it.  Recently,  I listened to a Radio Lab episode where they were discussing an experiment where they found a way to take away a human’s understanding of language and making connections by having them shadow or repeat another person’s speech.  The experiment subjects could not make good choices.  I think the drone of a constant to do list and social chatter, and distraction can take away our ability to listen to our own hunches – and then we get trapped because we’re not making good choices.

Thriving is about finding solitude.   More and more in a connected world where the collective is the norm,  that is harder to find and make the space.    I think that we need to learn the skill of balancing solitude with social connection in order to thrive.

There are many great ideas and takeaways in the book – and well worth reading.

How are you taking care of yourself so you can avoid burnout, be successful, and change the world?



11 Responses

  1. Anita says:

    Beth, thanks for writing this. It’s timely! These are great reminders, and I especially liked the link to Ethan Zuckerman’s piece and your own thoughts on managing attention/distraction. I’ll be keeping this tab open awhile!

  2. Beth says:


    Thanks so much for your comment. I’m really trying to embrace this metric of Thrive .. especially the activity part.

  3. Thanks for writing this. We cannot be much good to others, if we cannot take care of ourselves!

  4. Beth says:

    Thanks Ami for stopping by to comment. I appreciate your retweets! I agree that self-care is an important component of our lives – if we are to be there for our work and our families – we need good health and that requires paying attention to it.

  5. Roger Carr says:

    Hi Beth,

    Thanks for discussing this topic. I have enjoyed your earlier posts on the benefits of walking, but the larger topic of creating margin and mindfulness in our lives as additional steps to avoiding burnout is important.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t learn this soon enough and ended up in a state of burnout a few years ago. It was scary. Loss of passions. Loss of relationships. Loss of motivation. Fortunately, I had some great family and friends that helped me make life changes over time and now I am back and better than ever!

    I am losing weight and am training for 5K races in September and December. I am also writing again with new and renewed passions.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. I will be reading it soon.

  6. Beth says:

    Hi Roger,

    Thanks for sharing your story and experience. We’ve all been there.

    Great to hear that you are taking care of yourself. Have you used a fitbit?

  7. Roger Carr says:

    I have not used a fitbit.

    I currently use my smartphone with the Runkeeper app, for tracking food I use the myfitnesspal app, and for motivation I use the Pact app. This combination works great for me.

  8. Josh Light says:


    Great article. It’s so easy to get caught up in your passion, and ignore the important things in life. I’ve had a serious problem with this in the past, and am currently trying to do a better job.

  9. Hi Beth
    This is very timely. A few weeks ago I interviewed Margaret Wheatley, who will be speaking in Aoteareoa New Zealand later in the year, and she says thinking is endangered as so many are stuck in a busyness rut. So, as well as making time to walk, need to make time to talk! My thoughts on this captured here:

    Waving from stormy Kapiti Coast,


  10. Beth says:


    Lucky you! Margaret Wheatly is amazing. Thanks for sharing your post .. and even though Kapiti Coast is stormy, I bet it is gorgeous

  11. […] from it all and “letting the well fill up overnight.” And even social media mavens, Beth Kanter and Arianna Huffington have both recently begun promoting solitude and […]

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