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How to Succeed at Harvard

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"Some of us take better care of our iPhones than we take care of ourselves." When Arianna Huffington spoke at Harvard's School of Public Health, she championed the idea of a third metric of success beyond money and power. Based on well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving, the Third Metric of success allows us room for happiness. Why is it, she asked, that we have to wait until we are at below 0% before we give ourselves the opportunity to recharge?

In order to truly thrive, both working adults and students have to recharge and de-stress. Here at Harvard, where students have big dreams and an abundance of resources, it can be difficult to allow ourselves the time to put away our devices and relax. In the spirit of Arianna's visit to campus, I interviewed Harvard students on how they "thrive."

Chinese vocab quizzes every Tuesday and Thursday, along with additional quizzes on chapters and an oral exam every other week, CS50 and Econ psets due Friday at noon, and you haven't experienced the definition of thorough until you've written a paper on philosophy.

Timelines get crunched and deadlines snuck on me from time to time. Sometimes I'd spend the whole night to end with frustratingly little progress. However, there wasn't anything that a hot cup of Earl Grey and Game of Thrones or Suits couldn't fix. What truly helped me thrive and overcome the stresses of everyday life was spending time with friends and getting to know the extraordinary individuals around me.

Promit Ghosh, 2017

Harvard is a peculiar place, where once "hobbies" and "interests" that we have crafted descriptions of so well to show how passionate and drive we are to get here have turned into extracurriculars that pretend to be their real life counterparts. Harvard is a place where classes are not the only source of stress but any activity can take on another stress load on its own. When my parents broke the needle of their record player while dusting it, I offered to buy a cheaper one online and bring it back home. After the package arrived, I couldn't resist the temptation, I was already experiencing homesickness, it was my first time being away from home for months. I said to myself that I could repack it and take it back at the end of the semester. The record player still lives in my dorm room. I have started collecting $1-5 records from Gertrude Stein operas to Schubert's Winterreise with Fischer-Diskau. The record player is an object of the past, producing sounds that are not from my time. The dust and minute cracks have an alienating effect that removes me from the stresses of the present. Records line the floor of my wardrobe waiting for their chance to take me somewhere else when I summon them for a hedonistic sonic escapade.

Ege Yumusak, Class of 2016

Art. Art can mean something different to everyone. To me, I guess it means engaging in creative and expressive activity. Most often, that means music or dance, but it can even be smaller than that, like coming up with the perfect word to describe something, or taking the time to notice something beautiful in front of you.Whether it's music or dance or painting, art helps me refocus and de-stress. I know I want to go into medicine, because I see something beautiful in it, so the way for me to get through all the prescribed science classes is by going to play piano for an hour, or translating the stress of the day into dance.

Lia Kaynor, 2017

In my opinion, the true secret to destressing is to just take your mind off of things. Stress happens when you worry about something you have no control over, and so anxiety builds, and so stress builds. For example: a big test that you're studying for. Maybe you're making progress, but you feel overwhelmed and you can't study fast enough, and then the stress builds because you can't stop worrying about the test.

But how to stop worrying about things then? Having fun. If you're having fun, you're occupied in the act of fun, and then you're not thinking about how stressed you are. For me that involves playing video games; for others it might be writing; and for many it's talking to friends. Whatever floats your boat. It doesn't have to be strictly defined as "fun," either, as long as it takes your mind off of things and you're deeply immersed in it.

Raynor Kuang, 2017

And here's how I thrive: My first week of college, I discovered Morning Prayers at Memorial Church. There was something hauntingly beautiful about the way the sunlight poured through the tall window, blurring the podium at the edge and glancing over the black robes of the choir members. A brief sermon and some hymns, totaling only 15 minutes every morning, but it helps me rethink the day.

College is a frenzy of activity that can leave you feeling disoriented and lost, and desperately missing home. But for some reason the tall arched ceiling and the 8:45 light in the church always restores some of that feeling of belonging. Some emotion I still don't quite recognize wells up in my chest, centering me.

And that's why, every morning that I manage, I've dutifully been waking up early to go to Morning Prayers before I head off to class or to breakfast. Some sermons are more religious than others. Some mornings, I cry a little bit when the choir sings and can't explain why. Every morning, I emerge feeling renewed and reminded that for whatever reason, I am at Harvard, and for whatever reason, I belong here.

I thrive here.