Three years ago I had the pleasure of meeting the mesmerisingly smart and passionate Arianna Huffington, who is inspiring women of the world to nurture themselves and find the tools to truly thrive. I have been continually inspired by the books she has written and the advice she gives. Here she shares five top tips for leading a happier life. Thank you Arianna!
Redefining “Me Time”
“Me time” needs to be turned on its head. It shouldn’t be viewed as a luxury or an indulgence; in fact, it shouldn’t be called “me time” at all. Nurturing yourself needs to be prioritised and defined as performance enhancement for everyday life. Women shouldn’t put themselves last on their long list of responsibilities and give up the activities that make them feel whole and recharged.
There’s a reason why airlines say “put your oxygen mask on first before helping others”. To be healthy and happy, we need to start by looking after ourselves. Much in the way athletes do, we need to prioritise the essential elements that keep us well and in tip-top condition. Whatever those activities are for you (exercise, meeting up with friends, a massage or reading a book), start carving out the time to do them regularly and don’t feel guilty about it for one minute.
“There’s a reason why airlines say “put your oxygen mask on first before helping others”.”
Sleep – The Miracle Drug
It’s not just an old wives’ tale – scientific evidence has proven that getting enough sleep boosts your immune system, increases mental clarity, is anti-ageing and with enough sleep you are far more likely to tap into the joys of life. It’s a wonderful feeling when you wake up without an alarm, naturally, and we need to try and capture that feeling as often as possible. Make small changes towards getting more sleep – it is always good to have a 10-minute transition before bed, maybe that is a warm bath, maybe it is reading a book or just sitting quietly with a candle burning.
“We need to begin redefining what we value, and change workplace culture so that working until all hours and walking around exhausted becomes stigmatised, instead of lauded.”
We also need to start changing how sleep is viewed and understood in the workplace. The sleep deprivation so many of us experience in striving to get ahead at work is profoundly – and negatively – affecting our creativity, our productivity and our decision-making. We need to begin redefining what we value, and change workplace culture so that working until all hours and walking around exhausted becomes stigmatised, instead of lauded.
Just as we examine and hopefully try to improve our relationships with friends and colleagues, we must also observe our relationship with devices. It has never been harder to tap into our inner wisdom, because in order to do so, we have to disconnect from all our omnipresent devices – our gadgets, our screens, our social media – and reconnect with ourselves. Don’t buy into the thinking that “nothing can wait”.
“Don’t buy into the thinking that “nothing can wait”.”
Every night put your phone somewhere else other than your bedroom so you aren’t tempted to look at it if you wake up to go to the loo or first thing every morning. Buy a simple, battery-operated, alarm clock and use that to wake up (if you need one), not your phone. Devices are incredibly important to our lives obviously, but they give us a false sense of efficiency – often the most important elements in life are to listen, engage and be present, which you can’t do if your head is down typing away. Technology is extraordinary, but we need to be sure to put our devices in their place and never be at their mercy.
Let It Go
Every evening, think back upon your day and “drop” something that has bothered you. Maybe it is a regret, something that angered you, resentment, jealousies or insecurities: they are all negative thoughts that do nothing but drain you. Let go of objects, activities and goals that no longer serve you.
Don’t expect yourself to be good at dumping them all at once – it takes practice to let things go – but just try to let one annoying niggle go every day. They do you no good festering inside. It is incredibly liberating to clear out our emotional baggage.
“Every evening, think back upon your day and “drop” something that has bothered you.”
As well as letting something go each day, make a list of all the things you think you might do one day but realistically, deep down, know you won’t get round to. Getting rid of the anxiety of perpetually unmet expectations – of anything that is not a priority – will be so rewarding. Letting go, shedding, simplifying; these are all hard to do in a culture built on addition rather than subtraction, but when we stop holding on to things we will never use, or that are negative for us, we discover newfound energy and strength.
Gratitude is a powerful force. It can help you THRIVE. Every day, try to think of three things that you are grateful for. They can be seemingly small things or big things but the important thing is that you are expressing gratitude for them and focusing on the positive.
Take a moment to be grateful for this sunny day, for being alive, for anything. And even better if you have a few “Thrive Buddies” who you can email every day with your list of three gratitudes.
“I’ve come to believe that living in a state of gratitude is the gateway to grace.”
I’ve come to believe that living in a state of gratitude is the gateway to grace. By being grateful, research has shown that our stress levels are reduced and we have a greater sense of calm at night. Gratitude is like white blood cells for the soul, protecting us from cynicism, entitlement, anger and resignation.