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Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining
Success and Creating a Life of Well-Be-
ing, Wisdom, and Wonder
Author: Arianna Huffington
Is Arianna Huffington the worst person
to tell America to relax, or the best?
One morning in 2007, as she tells it,
she was lying on the floor in her home
office in a pool of blood. On her way
down, her head had hit the desk, cut-
ting her eye and breaking her cheekbone. "I
had collapsed from exhaustion and lack of
sleep," she writes. In the waiting room of the
doctor s office she began to ask herself ques-
tions about what kind of life she was leading.
This is the story that opens her new best-
seller, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining
Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being,
Wisdom, and Wonder, and the one that she
has told over and over again to her employees,
to Lindsay Lohan, Nancy Pelosi, and Sheryl
Sandberg, to panel audiences across the coun-
try. This is the story she ll likely deliver at the
Third Metric conference she is holding this
week in her tireless evangelistic efforts to get
people to lead a less frantic kind of life. It s
Our new doctor of the "hurry sickness"
could be her own best patient. Over the years
she has remade herself from a conservative to
a liberal to a Greek immigrant to a star of
Cambridge debate to a best-selling author to
political wife to a New Age proponent to a
California gubernatorial candidate to a media
mogul and back to a new kind of New Age
proponent, channeling the updated language
of wellness and meditation, preaching about
how to "unplug" from the toxic "Western
The woman who complains that "people
are so addicted to technology" that 20 per
cent of us use smartphones during sex has
also travelled with two BlackBerrys, one for
each network so she is never out of touch.
In her book Huffington reports all the little
adjustments she s made. She no longer turns
on the TV news when she walks into the house.
She doesn t charge her phone next to her bed.
She sleeps more. She tries to meditate, even
for a few minutes a day. "We re all on a jour-
ney," she writes, and although she is not really
prone to confessions, it s obvious from talking
to the people who work with her that she has
further to travel than the rest of us.
According to some Huffington Post staffers,
her yoga teacher once told them that Huff-
ington sometimes checks her BlackBerry while
doing yoga but that s OK because she s a very
Her assistants told me that she almost always
double books flights in case she changes her
mind about when exactly she wants to leave.
"She s insane! She works all the time. Literally
all the time!" says another former personal
"Maybe that s why she s obsessed with sleep,
because she can t sleep." None of this is exactly
surprising. As Vanessa Grigoriadis memorably
put it in a New York magazine profile, Huff-
ington is simultaneously "a glittery Earth
Mother" and "the world s best bullshit artist."
She is beyond contradiction.
Huffington s essential advice to women is
that it s a mistake to lean in. Her inspirational
stories involve Wall Street women who clawed
and networked their way up only to realise
they were unhappy and quit, or, in one case,
a CEO who moved to Cape Cod because she
was "inspired by the natural surroundings."
Yet she and Sheryl Sandberg have appeared
in countless events together smiling and hold-
ing hands. Go figure.
Evangelising for relaxation is very arduous
work. Once she saw the light, Huffington
hijacked some of the Huffington Post s lifestyle
resources to set up a new vertical called the
Third Metric, which filters much of modern
life through that lens, producing stories such
as "What 10 Persian Poems, Caddyshack,
and the Bee Gees Have in Common With the
Last year she held an impromptu Third
Metric conference at her home, inviting politi-
cians and celebrities on stage to talk about
how they recharge. (I attended the conference.)
Her staff told me that making it happen
required pulling 12-hour days. All of the fur-
niture was removed from Huffington s place;
they borrowed Jon Bon Jovi s apartment for
On her off time Huffington is very interested
in collecting every detail about how you thrive.
"How do you thrive?" she asks on her Insta-
gram account. "We want to see. Share your
photos with us reading Thrive, meditating,
exercising, napping, doing yoga, volunteering,
traveling. However you unplug, recharge, de-
stress, disconnect to live a life of wellbeing
wisdom & wonder. Use the hashtag
#HowIThrive and @ariannahuff will regram
On The Daily Show, Huffington announced
that at the Huffington Post offices in New
York she had set up two nap rooms and a
new e-mail policy encouraging employees
not to e-mail after hours. The company also
began holding yoga and breathing classes dur-
ing the day. On the one hand, this is true.
There are nap rooms, and she did issue that
On the other hand, the e-mail policy was
rolled out in connection with her new book.*
On the other hand, employees like the policies.
It s comforting, several writers and editors
told me, to know that when the boss sends
you an email in the middle of the night, you
do not have to answer until the morning.
But there is also no way that office yoga
can get at the very disease that plagues a
workplace like the Huffington Post, which
can be summed up by the reaction of one
senior writer who received an email announc-
ing the noon yoga class as I was interviewing
her: "It would be really nice to do yoga today,
but I m on a deadline and traffic on the metric
was low and. ... I gotta go, that s my editor,
shit." In her book, Huffington quotes the
Christian writer Iain Thomas describing a
world we don t want to live in. "And every
day, the world will drag you by the hand,
yelling This is important! And this is impor-
tant! And this is important! You need to worry
about this! And this! And this! " If that world
had a landing page, guess what it would be?
The symptoms Huffington describes in her
book are very obviously true. We tend to our
Facebook friends more than our real friends.
We text while we watch our children. We tie
our mental well-being to our inbox. We skimp
on sleep to catch up on work.
It s also obviously true that Arianna Huff-
ington will never embody the opposite of that
ethos. Does that make her a hypocrite? No,
it makes her just like the rest of us, convinced
of the diagnosis, sure of the solution, and
unable to do much about it.
How do you thrive?
We tend to our Facebook friends more
than our real friends. We text while we
watch our children. We tie our mental
well-being to our inbox. We skimp on
sleep to catch up on work.
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