WH Allen, £16.99. Order at the discounted price of £13.99 inc. p&p from the Independent Bookshop
Thrive by Arianna Huffington, book review: Money, power and how to live a happier life
Thursday 27 March 2014
There were no psych-fix or self-improvement books on my shelves. Now there is one: Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Happier Life. Don't laugh. Never ridicule or underestimate this author, journalist, editor-in-chief, (ex) politician, America's biggest and busiest networker, entrepreneur, multimillionaire, spiritual, mental and health guru who looks just great and never has a bad hair day.
I present to you Arianna Huffington, (previously known as Arianna Stassinopoulou) a woman who has been gifted amazing powers of self-regeneration (and reinvention) by the Fates. Born in Greece in 1950, she migrated with her mum to Britain, got a scholarship to Cambridge and became, say some, "the most upwardly mobile Greek since Icarus". But unlike the recklessly ambitious Icarus she never burns out or melts down.
In the 70s, she hooked up with the cerebral Bernard Levin, wrote an anti-feminism book (The Female Woman) and won many, helpful male admirers. In the 80s she moved to the US, quickly made friends in high places, turned frightfully right wing, married Michael Huffington, a rich Republican who eventually confessed he was bisexual.
They parted but the surname stayed, opened doors. In 2003 she stood against Arnold Schwarzenegger for the governorship of California and lost. Two years later she founded the eponymous online Huffington Post (liberal, centre left) which was sold to AOL for $305m. It is now a global brand, read and taken seriously by readers, writers and unpaid bloggers.
This Greek goddess never fades, never regrets, always astounds and awes. The Greek word "arete" means excellence, effectiveness, living to one's full potential. Arianna is its embodiment.
In April 2007, she fainted and fell in her home office: "I was on the cover of magazines and had been chosen by Time as one of the 100 most influential people. After my fall, I had to ask myself, was this what success looked like?" No, dear Arianna, it's what middle-age feels like. But Ms Huffington didn't get to where she is by accepting inevitable life changes. She wrote this book.
So what is the "third metric"? There's this stool of life, you see. Two legs stand for the pursuit of money and power. The third is what humans apparently need to be fulfilled and stable. (And not fall over.) We must slow down, reflect, relish each moment, unplug devices and give: "[Gazelles] are my role models. They run and flee when there is a danger – a leopard or a lion approaching – but as soon as the danger passes they stop and go back to grazing without a care in the world."
We know vast ambitions can lead to mental disharmonies, stress and perpetual dissatisfaction. The world would be a better place if bosses and nations were not so greedy, were kinder to themselves and others.
However, Huffington's heroes reach this nirvana after they get rich and powerful. They don't leave or lose the rat race. Steve Jobs meditated and wanted a book by an old Indian yogi handed out at his memorial. And John F Kennedy took soothing naps. Huffington too goes on long, invigorating hikes, is keen on sleep and spirituality, values personal relationships. Ameliorated capitalism and soft power play is self-gratifying. It does not make the world more just or equal.
That said, the book offers persuasive arguments, is full of fascinating research, much fire and passion. Huffington draws people to her, commoners as well as captains of industry, the media, arts and cultural establishments. What gall an outsider, scorned for her outsiderness, shows them again and again. I wish she would choose me to be her new best friend.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Cheeky' Nando's under fire for apparently coming onto a customer on Twitter
- 2 Saudi Arabia mosque bombing: Two volunteer security guards hailed as heroes for stopping Isis suicide bomber reaching worshippers
- 3 Playboy model April Summers speaks out about being a victim of revenge porn
- 4 There is something wrong but very right about this Bible illustration
- 5 iPhone 'effective power' text: how to be safe from iOS bug that lets people crash your phone
Jay Z's Tidal could be about to lose Beyonce's music in ultimate humiliation
Royal Academy of Arts' Tim Marlow: Bronze statue of lovers embracing at St Pancras station is a lesson in 'how not to do' public art
Britain's Hardest Grafter: Petition set up as Twitter reacts to BBC 'poverty porn' series pitting low-paid workers against each other
Britain's Got Talent 2015: Jamie Raven divides Twitter as fans expose mind-boggling magic trick
Big Brother contestant Aaron Frew removed from house for 'inappropriate behaviour' after flashing fellow contestants
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'