A few months ago, I wrote this piece, but never posted it. It felt so much more personal than a simple book review. I have been reconsidering it for the past few days, but was finally pushed to publish it after reading a somewhat thematically related blog post by Wil Wheaton.
So, here is my (slightly revised) reaction to Thrive:
Arianna Huffington’s Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder is about burnout, happiness, and balance; it’s about health, redefining success, and working toward mindfulness.
It fit well with my mentality this summer. My three goals for this summer have been: patience, positivity, and productivity (listed from most difficult to easiest for me).
It’s been a struggle getting through this book, but I have enjoyed it immensely – particularly the conversational tone. The concentrated guidance toward mindfulness resonated strongly with me. At many points I wished I could have read this at the beginning of college. I spent a good portion of those four years rather unhappy. My strongest motivator for seeking this new approach to living is the realization I had the end of college that I couldn’t continue living in a way that sacrifices my happiness. It sounds like a common sense statement that shouldn’t be as revolutionary as it was for me, but living in a way that prioritized genuine happiness didn’t feel natural to me.
Some practices such as yoga proved to have a positive impact on my mental health during my college years, and I have tried to hold on to that feeling through at-home practice, while I attempt to sort out the next phase of my life.
While I was in the midst of reading Thrive, I found out that one of the mindfulness mentors I encountered during college was diagnosed with cancer. She is a young, seemingly healthy yogi, so I was shocked by her diagnosis. But it was a reminder about the unpredictability of life, and as she works through her treatments, I am working more to value my health while I have it.
In addition to trying to maintain a sleep more/eat better/work out regularly lifestyle, I took myself off social media for the a week this summer, in an effort to practice the kind of mindfulness Huffington explores in this rather personal book. Even before reading Thrive, I was well aware that have serious trouble disconnecting. (I even caved and reconnected shortly shy of a week when the #GOPDebate and #JonVoyage were scheduled for the same night.)
If you know me personally, you likely know these social media cleanses aren’t out of character for me; however, this one was the first that was motivated by more than just a personal desire to go off the grid and live in semi-isolation for a few days. It was motivated by a desire to practice mindfulness with regard to every choice I make – even with Tweets or Facebook posts.
A few hours after I finished reading Thrive, I retrieved a package from the mailbox addressed to my sister. It was a Lokai bracelet. Unfortunately, I had been planning to buy her one for her upcoming birthday (fortunately, it means I know her well enough that she would have appreciated the gift). However, the size small was too tight on her wrist, so I bought it off of her and she has ordered a new one for herself. (Update: I have since broke my bracelet and I’ve been meaning to order another.)
The Lokai bracelets feature clear beads with one black and one white bead on either end. The white bead is filled with water from Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth; the black bead is filled with mud from the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth. It’s supposed to represent the universal human need for balance, and remind us that we all experience highs and lows in life.
I am grateful for this gift from the universe (and my child-sized wrists), as it will serve as a physical reminder to internalize and practice the lessons I took from Thrive. I highly recommend the book for everyone, but especially for young people focused on personal success and just beginning their careers. For me, while I like to believe it would have been nice to read it earlier, I think I found it at the perfect time.
P.S. I am immensely grateful for my friend Erin, who lent me her personal copy of Thrive, and has encouraged me to pass it along to someone else who may benefit from reading it.