Aparna (inspirethoughts) wrote,

Book Critique 2016 – 08/16/2016: Thrive

Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Prologue: Go here

Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: A book that perfectly shows the reader a journey through the experiences of the author and many others that help one to learn to Thrive despite the circumstances, choices and vocations.

As most of you know I am an amateur photographer and do take pictures for any event if anyone asks me to. I am not that bad, can take some real good moments that can be captured and kept forever in your memory book. Some of the events are with family, some at friends and some at work. I do it for joy of capturing memories and never expect any compensation back. However, when I had photographed for an event at work earlier this year, I was rewarded with this book signed by the author herself. It certainly gave me a feeling of satisfaction for being appreciated when they don’t have to. And this being a non-fiction it took a while before I could finish reading it and here is my take on it.

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Happier Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder is a non-fiction by Arianna Huffington published in 2014. In this book she talks about a third leg that redefines being successful. Arianna is also the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post. The book starts with a detailed preface by the author, then an introduction before it goes on to describe in detail about the Third Metric - what is more than to be just successful - on four pillars - Well-Being, Wisdom, Wonder and Giving.

In the preface and the introduction author Arianna shares her personal experiences and why she decided to write this book. Very interesting to read from the author's perspective when you know you had at one or the other point of time have faced a similar situation in your life. The first two metrics in life that makes one successful are Money and Power. She mentions that this book would help everyone to live up to the best version of our eulogy. It makes so much sense - no one talks about how stressful your life was, but how successful you were in your life in living it with your family, friends, and achieving your passions that has nothing to do with the money you earn, the position you have or the power you show.

The first part, Well-Being, begins with a beautiful quote by Fr. Alfred D'Souza. Life indeed is made of obstacles. And reflects upon the biggest obstacle - Stress - and how one has been dealing so far and how we should be dealing. The statistics are appalling and makes me wonder how did we get here. She also explores different tips at both personal level and at a company level that can be implemented to reduce stress and stress-related health issues - Companies giving incentives to employees if they have an improvement in health, Meditation, Digital-Detoxing, Sleep, Walk the talk (walk while talking and discussion solutions rather than in a meeting room), spend time with family and friends away from the LCD electronics, Exercise and expand your love to animals. I loved the concept of digital-detoxing - I believe with so much of digital world around we really need to get shut-off from the digital world for a few hours in a week at the least. The author also mentions that Kimberly Brooks, HuffPost's founding arts editor advices not to take pictures of your food while at a dinner or lunch with friends and family as one of the many table ethics for this digital world. I have to say, I am a photo freak. If I find something interesting I capture it. I don’t know if it's possible for me to resist doing that.

The second part, Wisdom, author talks about how we are missing wisdom even though we are in the most advanced era in every which way. She goes to expand on how to improve it - To find purpose in life and loss; Listen to your warning sings, never ignore your hunch; nurture your intuition; time affluence (slow down and don’t rush); stop negative self-talk that goes inside one's brain; focus on "keystone" habits and replacing bad habits with these healthier habits that help one thrive; share a gratitude list with two or more of your friends; disconnect from your digital world while in bed asleep and finally do not start your day looking at your smart phone but instead by breathing deeply and being grateful. Author encourages to dream, remember them and discuss them when awake to improve oneself. But what about recurring dreams? I dream always even if I sleep for a few minutes and sometimes I have the same dreams over and over and over again. What does that mean I wonder?

The third part, Wonder, explores the sense of wonder as opposed to getting irritated at the obstacles in natural or man-made form - Stop and appreciate around you, wonder about the world that changes every second; Get that artistic experience - any and all kinds of art - that indulges your mind and soul. But not just on the apps or websites or online classrooms created by various museums and art institutes. Indulge yourself personally; Learn to appreciate the value of Silence. One way to awaken the wonder is the serendipity of coincidences - sporadic reminders to maintain our sense of wonder.

The last part, Giving, explores that the three pillars of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder is incomplete without the fourth pillar Giving for one to fully master the Third Metric. Several methods of Giving the author mentions in the book - Volunteering; tap into your natural humanity any time of the day, don’t wait for a natural disaster to happen. Make small gestures of kindness.

I was however confused on this elaborate topic about Death in the third part titled Wonder. How does talking about Death relate to thriving. It made sense and at the same time made no sense to me. But it jarred me into reminding me of death of two loved ones - my grandmother and an uncle who is not blood-related yet related in every sense. To this day I miss the fact that I couldn’t visit my grandmother so often in her last days although I was in India then a month before her death. If I had known then perhaps I would have spent a few more days with her. And this uncle - I regret to this day that I could not take a family photo with him the last time I visited him and also didn’t get a chance to see him again before I left back to America. Two of them whose departure always brings a pain in my heart. Did the author mean this? Enjoy now, live now - for tomorrow is unknown? I guess so. "Don’t Miss the Moment" - a profound statement that certainly kicked me.

Upon reflection I do feel that as a child I had less things to worry about than what I have now. But do I really need to worry about all of them at the same time? That is the biggest question for me that got answered in this part. Just like she mentions in the beginning of the book that it connects the three metrics that connect together to one goal - to thrive, it has been up to the expectations she had set. The book started for me as a slow read, and quite frankly I had put  it off to the side after reading a few pages. But I really wanted to include it as part of my reviews so finally made it to the last page. Surprisingly it is a very interesting read once you stick to it and move on.

I was impressed by the author to include so many of her personal experiences, challenges and how she overcame them. There are so many things about stress, work-life balance, how to feel more happy of your work than just working, digital detoxing and many other issues that current generation (Millennials or Gen Y whatever they are called as) facing and how to remedy that. Truly speaking we all know that we are traveling a wrong road, we all know the right ways to get us back to happiness track, yet we don’t follow. This book is a definite refresher on that as a kick in your face reminder.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Arianna Huffington's first book was The Female Woman first published in 1973 and went to become an international bestseller. Being a non-fiction I hadnt even picked it. However after reading this one, I might add it to my list of books that I want to read sometime in future.
2) Author mentions about her favorite poem "Ithaka" by the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy. I remember coming across this in another book I was reading but unable to put my finger on it. The lines of the poem are very inspirational and has so much meaning behind those lines. The poem can be found in its eniterity here
3) Factual Errors:
a. On Pg 51, the author mentions Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam all in the same line an continues to mention that the religions use prayer beads to utter the 99 names of Allah. This is true for Islam. But for Hinduism and Buddhism the utterances are different. Was the author confused? Or was the statement meant only for Islam but the other religions were just added? This is untrue.
4) Arianna mentions a few of the books by famous writers and their quotes from those books as far back as 399 B.C.:
a. In Preface and Introduction - 1951 Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar, Zero in One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters, Unretirement by Chris Farrell, In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore, Apology or Apology of Socrates by Plato
b. In Well-Being - Difference Works: Improving Retention, Production, and Profitability through Inclusion by Caroline Turner, Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World by Danny Penman, Relaxation Revolution by Herbert Benson and William Proctor, Catching the Big Fish by David Lynch, Mindful London by Tessa Watt, Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan, In the First Circle by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Wanderlust by Rebecca Solnit, Iconoclast: A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently by Gregory Berns and On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz.
c. In Wisdom - The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, Source of Power: How People Make Decisions by Gary Klein, 1946 Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahamsa Yogananda, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Talenb, Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything by James Gleick, The Sound and Fury by William Faulkner, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies and Why by Laurence Gonzales and The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
d. In Wonder - The Siren of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut, Alone Together by Sherry Turkle, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr, My Belief by Herman Hesse, Hardwiring Happiness by Dr. Rick Hanson, Unbinding the Heart by Agapi, Beyond Coincidence by Martin Plimmer and Brian King, Dying Well: The Prospect for Growth at the End of Life by Dr. Ira Byrock, Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death by Joan Halifax, Death: The Final Stage of Growth by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and finally Lessons for the Living: Stories of Forgiveness, Gratitude, and Courage at the End of Life by Stan Goldberg.
e. In Giving - Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Give and Take by Adam Grant, Giving2.0: Transform Your Giving and Our World by Laura Arrillaga -Andreessen and finally Creative Confidence by David Kelley and Tom Kelley.
5) Author mentions about how Big Data is all about data meaning more information, but it also means more of false information. Finding the truth becomes a needle in a large haystack. I wonder what our CEO would think when he and the company in total has been promoting Big Data like anything.
Tags: books, critique by amateur, reviews

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