I recently read a new book by Arianna Huffington called Thrive and I got very excited. This book and her message is long overdue and one that anyone who works in the busy corporate world needs to read.
In the book Arianna talks about how we have focused on just two things for happiness – power and success. It is what we have been brought up to do – to strive for. However there is something huge missing from this, which causes all the stress and burnout that we have been witnessing in the working world in the last few years. And that is heart. Thrive calls it the four pillars – wellbeing, wisdom, wonder and giving.
When we lose focus of these four things and do not give them equal priority that’s when we get stressed and if we do not listen to that, we burn out. We have so believed the myth that we have to work all hours and be at the beck and call of our bosses to be successful. But is that really the success we actually want?
As a coach and mentor I have worked with a wide variety of people. Whatever the level of the ladder they have climbed all have come to me when they realised that the goal they were reaching for, sacrificing their personal lives for, was not actually going to give them what they thought they wanted. They had believed the myth of achieving the outer success would make them happy and then, to their dismay, it hasn’t.
In the book Arianna asks “what kind of eulogy are you creating?” No one at eulogies says “she stayed longer than anyone and always got her job done.” No one says “he gave up his free time and sacrificed his family life so that the company could flourish”. Nor do they say “her best achievement was when they smashed their target two years in a row”. They talk about the person’s humanity, their family, how they went the extra mile for their friends, how loved they were.
So how do you begin to redress the balance? How do you ensure that your eulogy is about the things that really do matter to you? How do you begin to thrive and still fulfil the obligations you chose to fulfil?
Firstly look at the obligations you have chosen. Are they really what you want or are there some changes that could be made? What are your priorities and do they take your well-being into consideration? Are you looking after yourself, body mind and soul? If not what could you do today that would begin to change that? Maybe learning to say no for starters?
I read a great quote recently:
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad!
Wisdom is knowledge applied. You may know that your life would be better if you did certain things but until you do them it is worthless knowledge. Wisdom has a creativity and vulnerability that in fact gives it a far greater strength. Wisdom knows when you are doing things that no longer serve you and shows you how to change. First you have to listen.
And that’s where wonder comes in. Stopping long enough to be present in the world around us gives us the space to hear our inner wisdom and what it is guiding us to be. How often do you allow yourself to stop and gaze out of the window and watch the world go by? How often do you simply sit back and consciously breathe in your day? How often do you actually stop and watch the sun set rather than notice it out of the corner of your eye? We live in a magnificent world that can cause wonder and awe within us if we let it.
When we touch into that space of wonder we become present and that is when we get quiet enough to hear our intuitive voice, the one leading us towards inner success.
The last pillar in Thrive is Giving. It is a well-researched fact that when we give freely to others we feel better. Not only that we feel more connected to others, less alone in the world. Our lives have more purpose and it gives us a different perspective on who we are. And this doesn’t have to be a big production, it can be little ways of giving. Everyday kindnesses with those that we work with. Going out of our way to help someone we know, each will give our Self back to ourselves.
Now more than ever we all need this balance in our lives. I have seen time and again with my clients that when they gain the clarity as to what they can do to create balance it totally changes their lives for the better. What can you do today to thrive in your life?