Now that modern science is catching up to ancient wisdom, more people are ready to continue a conversation that began more than two centuries ago, on how to lead a fulfilling life. Philosophers once theorized that well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving are essential -- but that perspective was lost somewhere along the way. Arianna Huffington, the president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, is bringing these lessons back into focus.
At Friday night's Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, Arianna joined seasoned interviewer Paul Holdengräber as a part of the Onassis Cultural Center New York's Profiles series to discuss her latest book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. In addition to addressing the components that make up what Arianna calls the "third metric of life," the two friends dug deeply into the questions Greek philosophers once famously asked about what it means to lead a good life. Amid quoting famed Greek poetry and prose, and a few modern-day comedians, they discussed Arianna's life and work and the journey that led her here.
"We all have that place of wisdom, strength and peace inside of us," she told Holdengräber.
Arianna uses walking to help her connect with this inner place, considering it one of the most powerful ways to cure the ills incurred from living in a society that is constantly plugged in. "There's something really powerful about being completely present, movement, and taking in nature," she said. "And I think it's something we've lost."
Holdengräber pointed out that many New Yorkers walk a great deal, but they do so with smartphones in hand. According to Arianna, "It's incredibly important for us to disconnect from technology in order to reconnect with ourselves." It's not necessarily a challenging thing to do -- we just have to make a conscious choice to do it.
This constant connection with technology wreaks havoc on current sleep habits, as well. Scientific evidence proves just how important sleep is in maintaining one's physical, mental and emotional health and well-being. And yet, society began glorifying sleep deprivation and burnout, making them a point of pride.
"In modern times, we consider sleep a terrible necessity. We just crash and then wake up. We identify being busy with being important," Arianna said. "We are now a culture drowning in data, drowning in information, starving for wisdom. Sleep is another kind of sacrifice to this endless quest for stimulation ... and in the process, we are damaging ourselves."
Arianna compared working 24/7 to coming to work drunk, because science shows that sleep deprivation affects the body in a similar way to alcohol intoxication. Luckily, some companies within corporate America have recently begun adjusting the work culture to to reflect the value of this truth.
"People are now realizing they're not their jobs," she said, "And people we admire are often people who did not let their jobs define them."
Thrive, which Arianna considers a form of homecoming, is dedicated to and celebrates the life of her mother, one of the people she admires most. She said her mother understood the importance of giving, experiencing life's moments with loved ones, valuing education and treating everyone like the human beings they are. She also despised multitasking.
"In the end, I've learned everything from her, at first unconsciously and then gradually more and more consciously," Arianna said. "My mother lived a Third Metric life before I knew what a Third Metric life was."