Wednesday, 8 October 2014

The Silver Bullet?

It’s difficult to find life’s calm balance where you feel in control and at peace with the world. As you get older and take on more responsibility getting this calm balance is even more challenging. I don’t know about you but I am expert at not taking enough time out to ‘smell the roses’. I haven’t quite figured it out though because when I do take the time, damn those roses smell good. But would they smell so good if I was out there smelling them all the time! Getting the right ‘life balance’ equilibrium is one of life’s mysteries to me but I do see its immense value and importance. For this reason, I believe this concept needs to be fostered in schools. In that way I know all learning would be enhanced and the world would be a better place. I also believe that if this teaching took place in schools, combined with an enlightened and aspirational learning culture, a number of society’s problems would be reduced---simplistic maybe, but a goal worth pursuing.
From time to time I receive email from friends, colleagues or parents from our school community recommending I read some book or article. Often in life’s rush I don’t have time to follow up but mostly when I do find the time, it is worth the effort .
This was the case with a recent email from a parent who has an interest in ‘mindfulness’. She alerted me to Arianna Huffington’s book ‘Thrive’ and gave me a few links and background to Arianna  (which I shamelessly share with you below) who is the President and Editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, Arianna is a nationally syndicated columnist, and author of fourteen books.  Since her 2005 launch of The Huffington Post, it has become one of the most widely-read, linked to, and cited media brands online.  In 2012, the site won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting, and Arianna has been named on Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people and the Forbes Most Powerful Women list. In Thrive, Arianna Huffington makes an impassioned and compelling case for the need to redefine what it means to be successful in today's world. 
According to Arianna  ‘as more and more people are coming to realize, there is far more to living a truly successful life than just earning a bigger salary and capturing a corner office. Our relentless pursuit of the two traditional metrics of success -- money and power -- has led to an epidemic of burnout and stress-related illnesses, and an erosion in the quality of our relationships, family life, and, ironically, our careers. In being connected to the world 24/7, we're losing our connection to what truly matters. Our current definition of success is, as Thrive shows, literally killing us. We need a new way forward. ‘       
In a commencement address Arianna gave at Smith College in the spring of 2013, she likened our drive for money and power to two legs of a three-legged stool. They may hold us up temporarily, but sooner or later we're going to topple over. We need a third leg -- a third metric for defining success -- to truly thrive. That third metric, she writes in Thrive, includes our well-being, our ability to draw on our intuition and inner wisdom, our sense of wonder, and our capacity for compassion and giving. As Arianna points out, our eulogies celebrate our lives very differently from the way society defines success. They don't commemorate our long hours in the office, our promotions, or our sterling PowerPoint presentations as we relentlessly raced to climb up the career ladder. They are not about our resumes -- they are about cherished memories, shared adventures, small kindnesses and acts of generosity, lifelong passions, and the things that made us laugh.
From (
In Gordon Ching’s blog (Chief Digital Officer of AIESEC International) he quotes the fundamental lessons From Arianna Huffington's Thrive.
"Life is shaped from the inside out not the outside in." -- Arianna Huffington
Here are ten practical ways to bring more well-being to your life:
1.       Finish things: Reduce your baggage and the mental weight you carry. Arianna: "Did you know you can complete a project by dropping it?"
2.       Experience wonder: We grew up loving moments of magic and wonder, the magic of exploration and discovery -- bring it back to your life by enabling yourself to discover and dream.
3.       Remove poison If there is somebody toxic in your life, kindly remove them from your life. Don't ever hold grudges. "Resentment is like drinking poison, waiting for the other person to die." -- Carrie Fisher
4.       Natural hours of sleep: Try sleeping for eight hours at minimum as a start. You'll soon find what your natural sleeping hours are and soon begin to wake up naturally and feel refreshed.
5.       Practice mindfulness: Start taking breaks out of your day where you just become mindful. To feel your hands, your feet, to pay attention to your breathing -- just be 100 percent present.
6.       Digital disconnect: Experience digital-free hours to see things differently and experience deeper connections with people. You'll notice and realize things you didn't before because you were too busy starring at that screen. The world is full of wonders, you just have to look up.
7.       Meditate: Meditation isn't just for old people. Try a deep breathing exercise right before you sleep or the next time you're stressed. Start with a minute and eventually dedicate 15-20 minutes to meditate and be at peace.
8.       Give: Generosity is huge to unlocking happiness. How great does it feel when you help or give to others, asking for nothing back? Do something nice for somebody every day -- whether it is a compliment or a small gift.
9.       Learn to say no: Saying yes to anybody means saying no to everybody. Ask yourself, "Is it that important that you need to do that?" Don't overwhelm yourself with responsibilities that you cannot meet.
10.   Personal time: Devote time to yourself. A time of sanctuary where you can rediscover and recharge at your own pace. Take a warm bath, practice deep breathing, banish LCD screens temporarily, take the longer walk and just be in the comfortable in your own skin. Many of life's wonders are discovered when we are alone.

When you don't sleep enough, you bring out the worst version of yourself to the world. In my experience you: become more impulsive and make horrible decisions, feel more lonely than usual, have heightened impatience, get frustrated and upset more easily and have lower control of emotions and self-esteem.

Eight sleep tips from Thrive:
1.       Get a new pillow and a new pillowcase
2.       Make your bedroom darker and keep it cool
3.       Practice deep breathing before bed
4.       Take a warm bath before bed
5.       Exercise or at least walk every day
6.       Banish all LCD screens at night
7.       Cut down on coffee after 2 p.m and avoid alcohol right before bedtime to give the body time to metabolize it
8.       Prevent stress from building up throughout the day -- it makes it harder to fall asleep -- every few hours take 60 seconds of recovery time -- simply stop what you are doing and bring awareness to the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, or both.

In the age of hyper-connectivity, we need to know how to disconnect and reconnect with ourselves. Because if we are looking to improve and change this world--we need to be functioning at our best to lead the change we wish to see and thrive.
Don't just go out there and climb the ladder of success. Instead, redefine success. Because the world desperately needs it. -- Arianna Huffington
Sound like a Tui ad on one hand (YEAH RIGHT) but even if we took some of the advice and became more conscious about the core themes of Arianna we would be all better off.
I think I might go out and buy ‘Thrive’!

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