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Arianna Huffington Told Me to Sleep My Way to the Top

health and wellness mind mindfulness self-care workplace

Truth be told, it was not a private conversation. She told more than 9,000 attendees of the American Society of Training and Development just that, at the annual international conference last week in Washington, DC.

The Missing Third Leg in the Definition of Success

Fresh on the heels of the publication of her latest book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder (Harmony, 2014), media mogul Arianna Huffington spoke about a “missing third leg” in defining success. Traditionally defined by money and power, Huffington believes that these two alone lead to our current state of the general workforce — overworked, burned out, tired, stressed, and developing record rates of health problems. She says,

“Over time our society’s notion of success has been reduced to money and power. In fact, at this point, success, money, and power have practically become synonymous in the minds of many. This idea of success can work– or at least appear to work– in the short term. But over the long term, money and power by themselves are like a two- legged stool– you can balance on them for a while, but eventually you’re going to topple over.”

Speaking From Personal Experience

Toppling over is literally what happened to Arianna in 2007 when she collapsed from exhaustion (read more on that story here)! Today, she speaks about reshaping our definitions of success, inspired by her own revelations in recovery. The missing third leg is thriving. It’s well-being. From an article in the Huffington Post’s Healthy Living section, Arianna offers 10 ways to improve your overall well-being, starting today:

10 Ways to Improve Overall Well-Being:

      1. Finish things: Reduce your baggage and the mental weight you carry. Arianna: “Did you know you can complete a project by dropping it?”
      2. Experience wonder: We grew up loving moments of magic and wonder, the magic of exploration and discovery — bring it back to your life by enabling yourself to discover and dream.
      3. Remove poison If there is somebody toxic in your life, kindly remove them from your life. Don’t ever hold grudges. “Resentment is like drinking poison, waiting for the other person to die.” — Carrie Fisher
      4. Natural hours of sleep: Try sleeping for eight hours at minimum as a start. You’ll soon find what your natural sleeping hours are and soon begin to wake up naturally and feel refreshed. [Note: Arianna spent the largest proportion of time in her talk discussing recent research on the benefits of sleep, and on best practices for “sleep hygiene”. She shared that she, herself, has modified her life to accommodate 7-8 hours of sleep each night, up from 4-5 before her collapse. Additionally, at the Huffington Post’s corporate office in NYC, there are nap rooms! Huffington reports that they are actively used and culturally supported.]
      5. Practice mindfulness: Start taking breaks out of your day where you just become mindful. To feel your hands, your feet, to pay attention to your breathing — just be 100 percent present.
      6. Digital disconnect: Experience digital-free hours to see things differently and experience deeper connections with people. You’ll notice and realize things you didn’t before because you were too busy starring at that screen. The world is full of wonders, you just have to look up.
      7. Meditate: Meditation isn’t just for old people. Try a deep breathing exercise right before you sleep or the next time you’re stressed. Start with a minute and eventually dedicate 15-20 minutes to meditate and be at peace.
      8. Give: Generosity is huge to unlocking happiness. How great does it feel when you help or give to others, asking for nothing back? Do something nice for somebody every day — whether it is a compliment or a small gift.
      9. Learn to say no: Saying yes to anybody means saying no to everybody. Ask yourself, “Is it that important that you need to do that?” Don’t overwhelm yourself with responsibilities that you cannot meet.
      10. Personal time: Devote time to yourself. A time of sanctuary where you can rediscover and recharge at your own pace. Take a warm bath, practice deep breathing, banish LCD screens temporarily, take the longer walk and just be in the comfortable in your own skin. Many of life’s wonders are discovered when we are alone.
Don’t just go out there and climb the ladder of success. Instead, redefine success. Because the world desperately needs it.
— Arianna Huffington


Additional resources, specifically on sleep:

Napping benefits and tips

Benefits of Sleep – Harvard Medical School

NY Times article on sleep

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