When Arianna Huffington set up the Oasis at the 2012 Republican and Democratic National conventions, I told her it was the best idea I'd ever heard of. After reading about this supposed hub of well-being and mindfulness in the midst of an otherwise crazy convention, I wandered in from the Tampa heat one day with already-high expectations (I have a habit of taking a liking to things Arianna puts her name behind).
Within five minutes, all such expectations were blown out of the water. It turns out that eating a lovely health meal, perusing good books for your body and soul, and watching (and participating) in the yoga classes in session all around me were exactly the fuel I needed. The Oasis became my Oasis at both conventions, and whenever I find myself in a sterile conference space with thousands of other folks listening to the tenth speaker of the day, I long for such a special space.
Huffington's new book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, embodies all the spirit of that place, offering readers a way to create that space in their daily lives.
Appropriately, I tore through the book during my weekly digital detox, a 24-hour (at least) period over the weekend when I shut my computer in order to recharge and refuel for the week away. Within a few pages, I could tell it would prove to be one of my favorites in years (and that's saying a lot - given I read 200 books a year).
In the end, I found Thrive an incredible call to action to live better, bolder lives more infused with the meaning and purpose we all long for. Split into four equally powerful sections that focus on Well-Being, Wisdom, Wonder, and Giving, the book does an incredible job of showcasing Huffington's knack for weaving engaging personal stories with statistics and evidence to support her claims.
When you learn about how to improve your well-being, you hear the stories of how Huffington herself crashed and burned, and what she did to rebuild. When you ponder the importance of Wisdom and Wonder, you learn about the critical research done on blue zones -- those areas of the world where people live longer, happier, healthier lives. In the section on Giving, readers are encouraged to think beyond the basics and pursue what their gifts are in efforts to truly give.
Throughout it all, the reader is called to evaluate the potential and ready possibility of a slower, more peaceful life, even amidst a harried career and an ambitious soul. The point, as Huffington -- a Manhattanite who isn't claiming that peace can only be found on a Wyoming ranch -- says, is to not escape from it all, but to find a way to live in the midst of our lives.
Although we cannot shed life of its pressures, we can learn to ride the waves of the stress that comes and goes by first understanding the rationale behind our emotions, and then using simple practices to help center our body and mind. Thrive offers both hefty rationale, and daily how-tos, for every reader.
For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin--real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be got through first, some unfinished busi- ness, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
--Fr. Alfred D'Souza