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?