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Arianna Huffington: ‘In writing as in life, don’t be afraid to take risks and experiment.’

AriannaBack in 2013, The Huffington Post editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington delivered a commencement address at Smith College. This act inspired her to write a book on looking beyond the acquisition of money and power to Thrive. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

Q: Can you describe your research process for this book?
A: I wanted to use all the tools at my disposal to make Thrive a bridge to help us move from knowing what to do to actually doing it. That meant drawing on my own interviews, the work of our reporters and editors at HuffPost, and the research of many academics, including Richard Davidson, professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin; Mark Williams, professor of clinical psychology at Oxford; Jon Kabat-Zinn, founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School; and Adam Grant, professor of management at the Wharton School and author of Give and Take. And since a key premise of Thrive is that we’re living through an incredible time of great new scientific findings, I wanted to include all the latest ones, which is how I’ve ended with 55 pages of endnotes to convince even the most stubborn skeptic that we need to unplug, recharge and reconnect with ourselves, and by doing so, actually improve every aspect of our lives.

Q: In your opinion, what’s the best way to self-edit?
A: I love editing with actual pen and paper, and I love improving until the very last moment.

Q: Do you have any tips specifically for writers on how they can map out their careers and ‘thrive?’
A: In writing as in life, don’t be afraid to take risks and experiment. And I don’t believe we can ever map our careers. What matters is to be open to new opportunities and deal with the proverbial writing blocks by either sleeping or walking or, ideally, both.

For Ernest Hemingway, walking was a way of developing his best thoughts while mulling a problem. ‘I would walk along the quais when I had finished work or when I was trying to think something out,’ he wrote in A Moveable Feast. ‘It was easier to think if I was walking and doing something or seeing people doing something that they understood.’ Nietzsche went even further and proclaimed that ‘only thoughts conceived while walking have any value!’

As for thriving, I hope young writers will learn from my example: In college, just before I embarked on a career as a writer, I wish I had known that not only is there no tradeoff between living a well-rounded life and high performance, performance is actually improved when our lives include time for renewal, wisdom, wonder and giving. That would have saved me a lot of unnecessary stress, burnout and exhaustion.

Q: What’s next for you?
A: I’ve learned never to rule out anything! I ruled out doing another book, and here we are discussing Thrive. But having said that, I love the combination of what I’m doing at the moment: HuffPost and taking the message of Thrive around the world and across all our international editions.

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