Book notes #3— Thrive

A continuation of concise book reviews, with original context here.

Thrive— by Arianna Huffington

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder

Stream of consciousness review:
Given my pension for mental health and self-awareness, I was excited to finally pick up this best seller from Arianna Huffington. Generally, it was a fast, enjoyable read that I’m glad I got through; however, I do think it could have been just as effective if it were 100 pages shorter. With that in mind, looking back now, the sections with regard to death were the most powerful. Some of my favorite quotes and discussions were around that topic, with the most meaningful being the chapter in which she describes the passing of her own mother in an almost poetic way. While there are a few specific tactics describe, largely this book was set to shift your way of thinking and living, not your strategy in how to do that. My biggest takeaway from was that I hope to live life with the same appreciation and balance that Arianna Huffington has (seemingly) come to find and hope to end life with the same peacefulness that her mother did.

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Raw highlights (directly from the book):
40 percent of American workers leave paid vacation days unused.

“Parents fear a gap year may disrupt a student’s momentum,” said Andrew Martin, a professor at the University of Sydney, “but it is possible it is part of the momentum.”

we need a Third Metric, a third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.

Archimedes said, “Give me a place to stand, and I will move the world.”

looking to thrive rather than merely succeed based on how the world measures success.

Have you noticed that when we die, our eulogies celebrate our lives very differently from the way society defines success?

“Eulogies aren’t résumés,” David Brooks wrote.

You wander from room to room Hunting for the diamond necklace That is already around your neck — Rumi

The point is to find some regular activity that trains your mind to be still, fully present, and connected with yourself.

Search Inside Yourself. The course is divided into three parts: attention training, self-knowledge, and building useful mental habits.

Under our current definition of success, a chronic state of fight-or-flight is a feature, not a bug.

The simplest tool for avoiding email apnea? To observe your breathing as you deal with your emails — to pull yourself out of automatic pilot.

One study found that increased power lowers an executive’s ability to be empathic.

One of my favorite phrases is solvitur ambulando — “It is solved by walking.”

Scientific studies increasingly show the psychological benefits of walking and other forms of exercise. “It’s become clear that this is a good intervention, particularly for mild to moderate depression,” said Jasper Smits, a psychologist at Southern Methodist University.

On the flip side, it turns out that sitting is as bad for us as walking is good for us.

Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. —Carrie Fisher

The grateful person recognizes that he or she did nothing to deserve the gift or benefit; it was freely bestowed.”

“My heart is at ease knowing that what was meant for me will never miss me, and that what misses me was never meant for me.”

“The longer we wait to defend our intuitions, the less we will have to defend,” Gary Klein writes.

“Angels fly because they take themselves lightly,” my mother used to tell my sister and me, quoting G. K. Chesterton.

What you focus upon, you become.

Benjamin Franklin put it, “ ’Tis easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.”

Too often, Stoicism is confused with indifference, but it’s really about freedom.

when faced with life-threatening situations, 10 percent of us will stay calm, focused, and alive. The other 90 percent of us will panic.

‘Happiness is love. Full stop.’

And by so-obsessively documenting our experiences, we never truly have them.

Christopher Booker identifies seven kinds of stories: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, The Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth.

There may be no single thing that can teach us more about life than death.

Philosophy, he says, is about “training for dying.”

From ancient Rome, we have been given the phrase “memento mori” — remember death, MM for short — carved on statues and trees.

Kübler-Ross is, of course, most famous for her five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance,

“I’ve come to believe the baggage I’ll tote with me to my death will determine its quality,” he writes.

“I don’t believe in an afterlife. I don’t believe in a single or multiple godhead. I respect people who do, but I don’t believe it myself.… So no god, no organized religion, but a developing sense that there’s something bigger than the world we live in, including after we die, and that we have responsibilities in that world.”

“Listen to people in their 80s. They have looked across the street at death for a decade. They know what’s vital.”

perspective-giving power of death into our lives, we need to be in shape for it, much the way those who are in shape can experience profound pleasure from running a marathon.

Our relationship with death is just that — a relationship.

I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love. And, of course, the release of love isn’t just the purpose of death, but also the purpose of life.

There are three basics, three simple practices, that help me live more in the moment — the only place from which we can experience wonder: 1. Focus on the rising and falling of your breath for ten seconds whenever you feel tense, rushed, or distracted. This allows you to become fully present in your life. 2. Pick an image that ignites the joy in you. It can be of your child, a pet, the ocean, a painting you love — something that inspires a sense of wonder. And any time you feel contracted, go to it to help you expand. 3. Forgive yourself for any judgments you are holding against yourself and then forgive your judgments of others. (If Nelson Mandela can do it, you can, too.) Then look at your life and the day ahead with newness and wonder.

The Bhagavad Gita draws attention to three different kinds of life: a life of inertia and dullness with no goals and achievement; a life full of action, busyness, and desire; and a life of goodness, which is not just about ourselves but about others.