Handcrafted Book Summary of Thrive by Arianna Huffington


                Thrive-The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Happier Life

   Arianna Huffington

WH Allen

288 pages; Average reading time 5 hours 12 min

This bookbhook book summary will take not more than 9 minutes


This bookbhook book summary of Thrive has been handcrafted by Shawna Guha.  Apart from writing handcrafted book summaries in the time that she takes out form her busy schedule, Shawna is a banker with one of India’s largest banks and believes reading helps in widening the horizon of hopes.

This handcrafted summary will help you learn

  • What is the third metric in success, after money & fame?
  • How lack of wellbeing cannot be the price of success?
  • Why inner wisdom is important for happiness?
  • What is the overview effect?
  • How to become go-giver instead of just a go-getter?


Wake up call

I started growing inquisitive about the nature of success only after I had collapsed and fallen from my office desk, hitting hard on the floor, on 6th April, 2007.

Being the founder of Huffington Post that started its journey in the year 2005, I had gradually climbed the corporate ladder of success and even featured in magazine covers, becoming one amongst the world’s 100 most influential people according to Time magazine. However, the life I was living comprised of almost eighteen hours of work every day, trying to pull in investors for business expansion, which led to pumping in power and money.

But apart from the conventional definition of success that encompasses only money and power, I realized that the scenario of sane success ought to be vastly different and I cannot go on in the same manner. It was then that I took charge of my life and amended my life practices as well that went on to bestow upon me a much more blissful life.

Redefining success

When I was preparing for the commencement speech for the Class of 2013 at Smith College, I realised I had built a pool of insights regarding work and life. What I had stressed upon in my speech for the graduates passing out, was to focus more on redefining success rather than riding the ladder of success.

 More than being on ‘top of the world’, it is important to ‘change the world’. Success supported by the two-legged stool of money and power can taste superb in the short term but it is the long term picture that one ought to focus upon.

The various facets related to success in life namely, well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving actually help in unfolding the Third Metric of life, apart from the other two metrics of money and recognition. It is our health and happiness that will get augmented when these three metrics sync together to help us: to reconnect with ourselves, our loved ones, and our community – in a word, to thrive.

It is high time that we try to revamp the prevailing way of work-life that demands putting more hours into work in order to achieve more success in life. In other words, it is important to sync our soul with the lives that we are leading at present or else we are gradually getting inclined to attain success at the cost of our well-being, health and happiness.

Is there a price for success?

A stark skew in the gender ratio at work, given the always-busy nature of professional lives, can be found as women are giving up on their work life, to a far greater extent as compared to their male counterparts. Women, in fact, are leaving top-notch careers as they are suffering from stress, lack of sufficient sleep and extreme level of burnout, far more than men.

In this regard, it has been observed that women leave jobs not only to take care of their children or health but at a certain point of time, they do not quite feel engaged to the work that they are doing and therefore, they also don’t enjoy their work. Hence, it is actually the attachment that matters and defines the duration of stay of an individual at work. Where burnout, stress and depression have become integral to modern lives, it is crucial to take charge of individual life and redefine success to include personal and social well-being in the definition of success. After all, healthy employees will actually lead to healthy bottom line.

Digital connectivity again is a major roadblock to reconnecting with our souls and the more we climb up the corporate ladder, the more it becomes difficult to go offline. To avoid this stress of being always connected, tools such as meditation, yoga, mindfulness, napping, deep breathing and sound sleep ought to be increasingly practised in order to maintain health and happiness in life.

The power of wisdom

The indispensable prerequisite in the conventional world of success today is wisdom. Having spent my earlier life in Athens, my basic upbringing was based mostly amidst Greek classics and myths.

Athena, the Goddess of wisdom, is a reminder of the fact that women, who symbolize creation and action at the same time, need to use the wisdom about the broader aspects of life for surviving in a masculine world.

Redefining success by tapping into the ‘inner wisdom’ of life apart from running after the two major metrics of success, i.e., money and power, is the primary need of the hour today.  

Is wisdom equal to happiness?

When it comes to wisdom, it is all about hunting out the happiness. But in order to open up to this very concept of wisdom in its real sense of the term, it is mandatory to give up the race to rule the world in terms of money and power, and rather delve into the deeper aspects of life.

The actual pursuit of happiness can only begin once we learn to look beyond the traditional parameters of success as the ones prevalent in the present world.

In this journey of search for wisdom, our intuition and inner voices are going to be the actual guides. We should, therefore, not overlook or miss these subtle signals of life amidst the race towards success. The need of the hour is to separate the real issues from the trivial.

There is always a tug of war between struggle and grace in our lives and it is up to us as to how tactfully we handle these two crucial sides of life so that none can overpower our mind. This is definitely not an easy task and will require a lot of ‘practice and commitment’.

The power of gratitude

Another virtuous ‘gateway to grace’ is gratitude that can instil an immediate dose of hope.  To feel grateful for whatever we have in our lives and push away our grudges, is gratitude. In fact, several gratitude exercises are being taken up these days in order to restore the sense of well-being amongst the human beings.

Research has proven that writing down a list of positive events at the end of the day and introspecting why those events made us happy, lowers stress levels and enhances mental calmness.

 As for me, the feeling of gratitude stems from not only the blessings of my life but at the same time from the disasters that did not happen in my life or narrowly escaped from touching my life. The feeling of grace happens naturally just like breathing and its significance has always been affirmed by scientists and monks.

Intuition opens you to yourself

Intuition, not intellect, is the ‘open sesame’ of yourself – Albert Einstein

The power of hunch in the path of wisdom, however, can never be underestimated and according to psychologists Martin Seligman and Michael Kahana, intuitions often drive vital decisions of life rather than linear reasoning.

After all, that particular ‘gut feeling’ is actually the feeling coming from deep within our soul and is a part of the core of our internal wiring. In other words, at times, the intuition or the adaptive unconscious works brilliantly, instead of the rationally chalked out take on the important decisions of our lives.

The major roadblock that comes in the way of connecting with our wisdom is the escalating dependence on too much of technology. It can very well be referred to as iParadox that keeps thwarting our way towards wisdom. At the same time, the ‘hurry sickness and time famine’ together add on to the cobwebs of ‘electronic notifications, ringtones, and jam-packed agendas’ that we are increasingly getting trapped into in our lives nowadays.

The art of slowing down

However, the art of slowing down and enjoying the simple pleasures of life for connecting with our place of peace can very well be learnt from the little ones who are more ‘connected to the moment’ rather than the artificialities of life unlike us – the grown-ups.

You need small changes in your life to walk the path towards gaining wisdom’. Here are three such changes that worked out in my life:

  1. Listening to your inner wisdom, let go of something today that you no longer need – something that is draining your energy without benefitting you or anyone you love.
  2. Start a gratitude list that you share with two or more friends who send theirs to you.
  3. Have a specific time at night when you regularly turn off your devices and stay disconnected from the digital world. When you wake up, take a minute to breathe deeply and feel gratitude before you begin your relationship with your digital devices.

A sense of wonder

The concept of wonder has an extremely crucial connection with our quest for the inner soul and to thrive. However, the magnitude of wonder depends a lot on our state of mind and our perspective of viewing things around. The simplest and most ordinary things in life can at once transform us from within, just as it happens with children. But we need to be ‘present’ to experience this sense of wonder.

The urge to unlock the real person within us forms a basic part of ‘spiritual seeking’ that is embedded deep inside us, just like the instincts for survival, sex and power. We are so caught up in our busy lives that we have stopped looking for the satisfaction of our deepest needs.

The overview effect

The sense of wonder has a major role to play here as it has not only driven mankind since times immemorial towards exploring the outer space but it has a lot to do with exploring our inner space as well. Both are connected in a similar way as the astronauts have experienced the magical feeling of looking back at Earth from the outer space, something that is commonly known as the ‘overview effect’. As Einstein puts it, ‘whoever remains unmoved, whoever cannot contemplate or know the deep shudder of the soul in enchantment might just as well be dead for he has already closed his eyes upon life’.

Nature & art

Nature and art inspire wonder in us. Art, as essayist and philosopher Alain de Bottom explains, ‘enjoys such financial and cultural prestige that it’s easy to forget the confusion that persists about what it’s really for’.

In the modern world full of hyper-connectedness, places like museums and galleries have managed to offer the endangered ‘feeling of wonder’ in our lives by enabling us to communicate with the ‘permanent, the ineffable, and the unquantifiable’. This is indeed a blissful experience in our life that is trapped under the weight of technology. In a way, the museums open up a road to reinvention.

Let’s take a selfie

The photography addiction nowadays obstructs our way of wondering or experiencing something because we are too busy capturing pictures and taking snaps rather than even experiencing the moment itself.

Being so much obsessed with documenting and photographing things, we are always interrupted in each of our experiences and we never really are able to experience completely. The experience that museum provides is therefore filled with awe-inspiring feelings filled with mysteries, wonder and surprise.

In this attention starved world, extending our undivided attention to someone is getting rare. The hyperconnected world around us has so many stimuli competing for our time and attention that multitasking, not focus, is king.

We don’t know what we like

Social media platforms are gradually eliminating the surprise element from our lives with their sophisticated algorithms that are very well aware of our likes but do not quite have an idea of what ‘we don’t know we like’. The problem arises when social media takes the limelight rather than being the background. Museums need to preserve the experience of watching and appreciating their carefully curated collection, rather than convert everything into data that is pulled by an app.

Apart from the museums, various other visual art forms such as music, sculpture, photography, cinema, architecture, literature, drama, poetry and dance can each have a deeper impact in our lives as each can awaken the true soul sleeping inside us in its own unique way.

Shhh….healing in progress

Silence is another tool that helps reconnect with ourselves, something that we often forget amidst the chaos of our busy lives. This is one of the reasons that we take a break and go on a vacation so that the slowing down helps kinder the spirit of wonder within our soul.

Life also has a way of keeping us in a state of wonder and surprise by showing us the magical coincidences that it has in store for us and keeps unfolding at some point of time or the other in our lives. The gifts of wonder are valuable and ought to be nurtured to find a more meaningful life today.

The art of giving

In addition to well-being, wisdom and wonder, the art of giving and caring is the fourth vital element of the Third Metric required to redefine success and thrive. Just as our personal wake-up call is in dire need of response by way of well-being, wisdom and wonder, the wake-up call towards humanity needs the gifts of giving, loving, caring, empathy and compassion.

This can happen only when we enable ourselves to break the boundaries of our comfort zones and bestow our service upon others.

One such way of serving the needy ones is by way of volunteering and I am indeed fond of families who prefer to take up volunteering as part of their weekend work that helps in actually meeting and reaching out to individuals and making a difference in the lives of the homeless or hungry or those leading their daily lives amidst violence.

The system is broke

Until and unless compassion and caring become a part of the lives of one and all, the state of the world is not going to change much and we cannot just shove aside our part of the job by uttering the age old ‘The system is broken’ stuff or blaming the government.

It is definitely true that government has an immense role to play in eradicating the sufferings and bringing about betterment but that’s not all. By giving, we are actually making it possible to let go of the greed and narcissism engulfing our lives today.

Go-getter to go-giver

From the depths of our compassion, we can free ourselves of all that limits our imagination about what is possible. In fact, we humans who are usually differentiated by the demographic peripheries powered by politics have been found to be united when survival is put to question under the furies of nature.

When hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, it was a moment of extreme polarization. Mother Nature brought us together as natural calamities are always known to be the conscious hitters by bringing out the best in us.

Today, technology is joining hands with philanthropy as several organizations across the globe are increasingly using technology to empower the gift of giving. The transformational journey of empathy and giving can begin as a mere willingness to help and later turn into intense involvement that changes lives of people around us. This is slowly going to kick-start the journey from a ‘go-getter’ to a ‘go-giver’.

The third metric

It is only after learning the hard way, by collapsing into a heap due to exhaustion, that I realised what I am missing in my life. Pursuing success, as the world defines it, single-mindedly leads us to missing out the joys that life has to offer.

The third metric to redefining success and creating a happier life is about finding your place of wisdom, peace and strength that will help you to unveil your meaning of success and also enable the world around to thrive gracefully, joyfully, compassionately and above all, more lovingly!

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