After collapsing from exhaustion, Arianna Huffington found a way to kill-it without killing herself. Now her efforts to help the globe thrive are more accessible than ever. You may know the story: Media mogul Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, woke up one spring afternoon in 2007 face down in a pool of her own blood. She smacked her head and broke a cheekbone after collapsing onto her desk from exhaustion at her home office in Los Angeles. The mother of two was working 18-hour days, 7 days a week (and practically sleeping with her phone), and while Huffington had reached society’s two golden definitions of success—wealth and power—she realized she was missing what she now calls the “third metric” of a truly successful life: well-being.
“That’s when I began to make changes,” explains Huffington, who revolutionized her life by making sleep (7-8 hours per night) a priority, setting a time to unplug from work and all devices each night, and connecting with herself through reading or meditation regularly.
“The changes I made to my life have had a huge impact,” she says. “Not only am I more joyful, but I also get much more done, I’m much more productive, and I’m much more present for all of it.” She’s also become much more successful.
FROM SURVIVING TO THRIVING
In the years to follow, Huffington and her namesake news hub would become one of the most prominent forces in media (The Huffington Post was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2012). In addition, the Greek-American entrepreneur was named one of the “Most Powerful Women” by Forbes, as well as one of the most influential people in the world by Time Magazine.
“I became passionate about the science showing the connection between well-being and performance,” says Huffington, who traveled the world speaking about the “global epidemic of stress and burnout” and published two New York Times bestselling books on the subject, “Thrive” and “The Sleep Revolution.” In 2016, she stepped down from her role at The Huffington Post in order to launch Thrive Global, a behavior change media and technology company.
The wellness start-up is on a mission to unlock human potential by ending the stress and burnout epidemic through its corporate services, media platform, and suite of digital products. Thrive offers individuals and companies (like Hilton and Sleep Number) sustainable, science-backed solutions to enhance mental and physical well-being–accelerating a cultural shift around the world. They’re showing us how to work smarter, not harder; how to live better, not busier; and–probably the most needed of all–how to have a healthier relationship with technology.
“We’ve now launched Thrive in India and Greece and have given corporate trainings in five continents,” Huffington says, proudly. The company’s media platform, ThriveGlobal.com, serves as a hub for the global conversation on well-being and performance, with an emphasis on action toward change. The platform features original, expert, and community content, as well as exclusive articles from success role models like Selena Gomez and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
KEEPING IT TOGETHER
So how does a busy-as-ever working mom maintain her own thrive-life revolution?
“It’s all about being relentless in prioritizing your time,” Huffington says. “Not just scheduling time for unplugging and recharging, but building in extra slack for those times when your commitments unexpectedly expand.” And when that’s not possible, she notes that it doesn’t take that much time during the day to “stop and do a few breathing exercises” (which we can all easily do at our desk, in the car, bathroom, wherever).
As for those funky off-mood days, Huffington says, “meditation and working out, both of which can be powerful mood boosters,” work wonders for getting herself back on track. “Also, connecting helps–with close friends or my daughters, or just with myself. What I’ve found, though, is that most of those off-days are usually the result of lack of sleep, which can really wreak havoc with our emotions.”
For more in-depth guidance in these areas, Huffington’s team recently launched behavior change app, Thrive. “It helps boost well-being and performance by giving users our science-backed Microsteps—too-small-to-fail changes that you can incorporate into your daily life right away.” Based on personal goals, the Thrive app provides realistic recommendations, coaching guides, and gentle nudges to keep you on track in achieving what you want.
“There’s always a purpose to our lives,” Huffington says, “even if we can’t always see it in the day to day.” Looking back, she recognizes the transformative purpose of her own collapse and can see how her favorite quote by Rumi–“Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor”–applies to the unfortunate, as well. “We can never know what’s ahead of us,” she says, “but if we live our lives in a positive way that’s open to possibility, life will seem rigged in our favor. I see the direct line from my collapse to running Thrive Global now, even though I certainly didn’t at the time.”
By Chad Schubert