Author One-on-One: Arianna Huffington and Mark Hyman
Arianna Huffington and Mark Hyman discuss Arianna's new book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.
Arianna Huffington is the chair, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, a nationally syndicated columnist, and author of fourteen books. Mark Hyman, MD is a seven-time New York Times bestselling author—Including the recently released Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet—founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Massachusetts and Chairman of The Institute for Functional Medicine.
Mark Hyman: Arianna, in Thrive you talk about our need to redefine success beyond money and power to include what success means to us and that to live a truly successful life we need to integrate well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving into our lives. You open the book describing your collapse in 2007 from exhaustion leading to a broken cheekbone and a round of visits to doctors and hospitals for tests. You were clearly running on empty, as I know so many people are—tell us about that experience and how it led to your larger wake-up call in terms of health and well-being.
Arianna Huffington: I had my personal wake-up call on April 6, 2007, when I found myself on the floor in a pool of blood. I had collapsed from exhaustion, breaking my cheekbone and cutting my eye. I was working eighteen-hour days to build The Huffington Post, while being a mom to my two teenage daughters. What this wake-up call taught me was that even though I was considered successful by our society's conventional measures of success, I was not living a successful life by any sane definition of success. Something had to radically change in my life.
As I've learned firsthand, overwork, stress, and sleep deprivation have profound effects on virtually every part of our lives. Our current model of success is not working for anyone. It’s not working for women, and really, it's not working for men either.
Mark Hyman: All so true. Stress really does impact your physical well-being, which is why I loved your discussion of the power of meditation in our lives to relieve stress and bring balance. You make the point that even a brief meditative moment can have a restorative effect. Tell us more about that and your daily practice.
Arianna Huffington: There is more and more scientific evidence about the impact of mindfulness and meditation in our lives. The list of all the conditions that these practices impact for the better—depression, anxiety, heart disease, memory, aging, creativity—sounds like a label on snake oil from the 19th century! Except this cure-all is real, and there are no toxic side effects. Indeed, 2013 was the year when meditation and mindfulness finally and overwhelmingly stopped being seen as something vaguely flaky, vaguely New Age-y, definitely California, and fully entered the mainstream.
I personally start every morning with at least 20 to 30 minutes of meditation. If you're just beginning, you can start by introducing 5 minutes of meditation into your day. Even just a few minutes will open the door to creating a new habit—and all the many proven benefits it brings.
Mark Hyman: Throughout the book you caution against the dangers of living in a permanently connected state. I agree that it is a growing problem in society today. I know over Christmas you participated in a digital detox yourself. Is it truly possible to disconnect, even when you are running the biggest online news site in the world?
Arianna Huffington: I'm happy to say that yes, it is possible! I spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s in Hawaii with my daughters, my sister, and my ex-husband—with no TV and no social media. Almost immediately, I was floored by the realization of just how much my phones had become almost physical extensions of myself—I would instinctively reach for them like phantom limbs! Unplugging meant rediscovering and savoring the moment for its own sake. Which is to say, taking in a view without tweeting it. Eating a meal without Instagramming it. Hearing my daughters say something hilarious and very shareable without sharing it. The unplugged version of myself was better able to give these things my full attention. And when I came back to the office, I was truly refreshed.
Mark Hyman: All important points. What do you want to see readers take away from this book?
Arianna Huffington: In the book, I pull together three threads: my personal journey and my hard-earned lessons; scientific studies about the importance of slowing down, sleep, meditation, and disconnecting from our devices; and many daily practices, tools, and techniques that can begin to transform our lives.
I very much hope that the book will chart another way forward—a way available to all of us right now, wherever we find ourselves. A way based on the timeless truth that life is shaped from the inside out—a truth that has been celebrated by spiritual teachers, poets, and philosophers throughout the ages, and has now been validated by modern science.
So I very much hope that the book will help make room in our definition of success for well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving, and help us move from knowing what we need to do to actually doing it.
“A convincing, compact, anecdote-laced guide for achievers of every stripe.”
“In Thrive, Arianna urges all of us to get in touch with who we really are so that we can live life on our own terms. From the importance of sleep to the imperative to listen to our own inner voice for ways to deal with the daily time crunches we all feel, this book lays out a path for each of us to look within and make our lives more authentic and fulfilling.”
“Provides powerful ideas about how to approach life differently.”
“At once intimate and formidable, this book is Arianna Huffington at her persuasive best. Thrive is a clarion call, a meditation, and a practical response to the question of how to live.”
—Susan Cain, author of New York Times bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
“Refreshingly practical . . . Lean In may be able to tell women how to get what they want, but Thrive may help them to figure out what that is.”
“Once in a generation, a book comes along that can truly transform your life. This is it. Thrive doesn’t show just how to become more successful; it shows how to realize and experience what matters most.” —Dean Ornish, founder of Preventive Medicine Research Institute, bestselling author of The Spectrum
“Full of compelling arguments (backed by substantial research) about why we need to redefine success.” –Real Simple
“A captivating look at what it takes to live a more meaningful, satisfying life. Brimming with passion, supported by science, and crowned with practical insights, Arianna’s exceptional book will transform our workplaces, schools, and families.” -Adam Grant, Wharton professor and author of Give and Take
“More a-ha moments than an episode of Oprah.” -People
"Reading this book is the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones. A monumental work that will change your life, and your health." -David B. Agus, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Engineering, University of Southern California and author NY Times bestsellers, The End of Illness and A Short Guide to a Long Life
“Begs us to redefine how we measure success: As women everywhere put their foot to the gas pedal in their careers, what happens when we go too far?” –Shape
“Filled with cutting edge scientific research, captivating stories, and straightforward everyday practices, [Thrive] is a call-to-action that informs, invigorates, and inspires all at once.” -Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., author of Brainstorm and Mindsight, professor, UCLA School of Medicine
"Arianna Huffington has written a passionate and much needed prescription for reshaping life from the inside out. Turn off your cell phone, your email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and every other tool of the stressed-out, distracted world to spend some time thinking about grace, joy and wonder. You'll be glad you did." –Ellen Goodman, Pulitzer prize winning columnist and bestselling author of I Know Just What You Mean
"This is a generous, urgent, vital book, a chance to redefine how we keep score before it's too late. Arianna has given us a gift, and delivered it with style." -Seth Godin, bestselling author of The Icarus Deception
"Arianna’s honest, raw and compelling call for us to Thrive, in the midst of a jumbled, chaotic world by redefining what matters – well-being, wisdom, wonder, service and each other – is the right book, at the right time to heal us from our disconnection to ourselves and each other." -Mark Hyman, MD, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, The Blood Sugar Solution
"Thrive is a book that makes me smile just thinking about it. It is a book of wit, wisdom, and practical advice for changing our lives by changing our values. After all, why should we be content just to live when we can thrive?" -Anne-Marie Slaughter, professor, Princeton University, author of What Works for Women at Work
"In our relentless pursuit of more and more success, we have lost touch with our true selves, our bodies, our families and our friends. In Thrive Arianna brilliantly explores how we can climb out of our stressed out, over-committed lives and once again create lives of balance and well-being." -Jack Canfield, Co-author of The Success Principles(TM)
"Socrates, Plato, Aristotle…Arianna. Beyond politics, there is her wisdom, applicable to everyone. This book probably added ten years to my life, some of which I'll spend re-reading it." -Bill Maher, host of Real Time with Bill Maher,bestselling author of The New Rules
"Rich in worldly wisdom and brimming with motivation, Arianna gently shows us how to face the craziness of life today with awareness, grace and a sense of humor.” -Congressman Tim Ryan, Ohio, author of A Mindful Nation
“You can feel Arianna's passion on every page of this book. In Thrive, Arianna has created a new paradigm for redefining how to systematically build a life of purpose and balance and accomplishment— the whole life we're all ultimately after.” -Tony Schwartz, CEO, The Energy Project, author of The Way We're Working Isn't Working
"Beautiful, bold and brilliant…. I did not just read this book, I entered into long conversations with it. Thrive profoundly transforms our understanding of success and wakes us up from the broken dreams we chase." -Elif Shafak, bestselling author of Honor and The Forty Rules of Love
"Warning: The content of this book is highly contagious. Even slight exposure may set you on a path to far clearer seeing, a radical resetting of your priorities, deep contentment, and, of course, thriving. Chances are, it will also melt your heart." -Jon Kabat-Zinn, professor, UMass Medical School, author of Full Catastrophe Living
“One of the most important books of this century. Weaving a tapestry of home-spun wisdom, science and compelling life stories, this is a profoundly uplifting and practical book that has something for everyone. A must read for anyone wishing to live life more fully.” -Richard J. Davidson, founder and chair, Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, University of Wisconsin-Madison
“Desperately needed in today’s Type A, hurry-up world. [Thrive] just screamed at me to slow down, turn off the inner dialogue, sleep more, and stay in daily touch with my source of being.” -Wayne Dyer