You’re killing it at work. You’ve gotten that nod of approval from the higher-ups who notice you’re at your desk later than everyone else and answering emails far outside of business hours.
But when you think about your life, are most of your hours spent glued to your mobile device? Are you barely sleeping? Is your stress levels heightened? Do you ever wonder if there is a way to work differently?
Arianna Huffington, creator of the global blog The Huffington Post, had one defining moment when all of her long hours and lack of sleep caused her to pass out and hit her head as her body gave her a big, “Hey! Pay attention to me!” She started digging into what she calls “the third metric” or a new way to define success outside of money and power.
The book Thrive by Arianna Huffington details that new metric and it doesn’t have to be at the cost of your monetary success. In fact, if you do it right, it can enhance your work and lead to even greater success.
The four ways Huffington argues that one can manifest fulfillment in order to truly thrive as an adult are through well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving. Each of these four elements of the “third metric” are gaining greater traction in wellness research, pointing to the fact that Huffington is onto something.
We’re often living our lives in competition with our colleagues, fighting to see who can work the latest, eat the most meals at our desks and sleep the least. That lifestyle is working against your well-being and against your productivity. Based on her research, Huffington recommends a three-pronged approach to improving well-being: Get more sleep, move your body and introduce five minutes of meditation into your day.
The easiest way to improve your mind and body right now is to ensure that you’re getting enough sleep, at least seven hours each night experts say. Huffington points out that President Bill Clinton, a famous under-sleeper, noted that most of his greatest mistakes were made when he was tired.
Going through every day tired leads to a pattern of ineffectiveness, as employees find themselves making mistakes, redoing work or losing the creativity that helps them to solve problems.
“There’s practically no element in our lives that isn’t improved by getting more sleep,” Huffington states in the book and science backs it up. Mood, physical performance, response time and immunity are all boosted by making sleep a priority.
But it’s not just sleep that impacts our well being, conditioning the mind and the body are the other two pieces of well-being. Outside of exercise, which helps to alleviate the impact of stress on your body, Huffington also discusses the merits of meditation. Meditation, she says can be totally devoid of any religious connection and is meant to improve the mind’s ability to pause and react without letting fear or anxiety be the controlling emotion in high-stress situations.
The classroom expands well beyond the University and Huffington urges readers to treat every day as an opportunity to learn. Wisdom comes from living in a perpetual world of awareness – looking up as you walk down the street, closing your laptop as your colleague presents findings from data they’ve dug through for the better part of the fiscal year and looking at mistakes and asking, “How can I do that better?”
“By bringing deeper awareness into our daily lives, wisdom frees us from the narrow reality we’re stuck in,” Huffington says. This allows you to break out of the world in which you live every day on auto-pilot and you allow yourself to grow as a person
Wisdom also allows one to respond to the right emotions that help one to grow from adversity and come out better, not bitter.
Huffington offers three tips for fostering wisdom:
1. Let go of something negative that you no longer need.
2. Write and share a gratitude list with two or more friends. I’ve been doing this for about a month and it’s been an incredibly fulfilling experience.
3. Have a time of night when you specifically turn off your devices.
Children are often the most vocal about their wonder. Because they’re newest to the planet, they look around with curiosity, asking questions about what they see and how things work. That wonder, when held onto throughout life, can lead to a greater appreciation for the world and can help you to ask big questions that may allow you to solve problems, big or small.
As I write this piece from a plane, I had one moment of wonder. Normally, I bury my nose in a book until I’m allowed to take my laptop out from under the seat in front of me. On this flight, I noticed my seat-mate staring out the window over the rocky mountains and I wondered what she saw.
So I put down my book and looked out the window too to see the most spectacular sunset just as the plane came over the clouds. In the exact moment that I was thinking, “This has to be the most beautiful place on Earth,” she said, “Isn’t it beautiful?”
And I felt all of the feelings. Try looking at the world around you to finding beauty and as questions about what you see.
Huffington discusses how the world often comes together when disaster strikes, offering money or service to those in need or impacted by something terrible. She suggests that it shouldn’t take a disaster to bring out that altruism.
Huffington encourages the reader to foster a natural sense of, “I should help” upon seeing a problem and acting on that more regularly.
Huffington borrows a turn on the phrase “go-getter” and calls someone who leads a philanthropic life a “go-giver.” Getting – or setting goals and achieving them – comes from a place of scarcity, she says, whereas giving comes from a place of abundance when one knows that he or she has something to offer. And that abundance, she says, can help to foster a fulfillment that no amount of getting can.
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