Tami Simon: You’re listening to Insights at the Edge. This episode is sponsored by Spirituality & Health magazine: bringing mindful coverage to topics that include faith, philosophy, meditation, and wellness. Please visit spiritualityhealth.com to learn more.

Today, my guest on Insights at the Edge is Arianna Huffington. Arianna is the chair, president, and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group; a nationally syndicated columnist; and, she’s the author of 14 books. In May 2005, she launched The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that quickly became one of the most widely read, linked to, and frequently cited media brands on the Internet. In 2012, the site won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. She’s been named to the Forbes Most Powerful Women list and the Time 100—Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people. Arianna has also written a new book called Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder.

She’s also hosting a series of live events—the first one taking place in New York City [on] April 24th to the 25th. [It’s] a Third Metric Live Event on redefining success with thought leaders from different fields, including the world[s] of entertainment, fashion, politics, and technology. You can visit thirdmetriclive.com to learn more about this event. If you’re interested, as a listener of Insights at the Edge, you can use code "ST50" and receive a $50 discount on the ticket price.

In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Arianna and I spoke about "Third Metric Living." What might it mean to make well-being, wisdom, and wonder a priority in our life? And [what are] the changes necessary to do so, particularly in relationship to how we define success and how we relate to technology? We also talked about her sense that we’re reaching a critical mass in terms of the mainstream world prioritizing the importance of this Third Metric. And finally, we talked about how to navigate periods of suffering in our life with attention to gratitude, and how becoming conscious of our death is one of the greatest tools we have for Third Metric Living. Here’s my conversation with Arianna Huffington:

Arianna, your new book Thrive was written, in many ways, in response to a wake-up call that you received in 2007. To begin our conversation, can you describe for us what was happening in your life at that time—and what was the wake-up call?

Arianna Huffington: Thank you. Yes. What was happening in my life was that it was two years after founding The Huffington Post. I was working round the clock: building a business, fixing our editorial coverage, and also had two daughters—one of whom was in the process of going through colleges to decide where she was going to apply.

So, all that together meant that when we got back from the college tour, I was completely exhausted. I woke up in the morning, got to my desk, and collapsed. [I] hit my head on the way down, broke my cheekbone, and got four stitches on my right eye.

That was, for me, the beginning of a journey. First of all, from doctor’s office to doctor’s office to check if there was really something wrong with me medically. But also, then, when we discovered what was wrong with me had to do with the way I was living my life—not, thankfully, any major medical problem.

It started me wanting to redefine what success is, because I thought to myself, "Yes, by conventional definitions of success, I [am] successful." But by any sane definition of success, I was clearly not successful when I was lying in a pool of blood on the floor of my office.

TS: Now, I’m curious because you then spent quite a bit of time redefining success and bringing these elements in that you talk about as "The Third Metric." We’ll talk about that some—well-being, wisdom, wonder, giving—this different way of living. But I’m curious: Do you think that The Huffington Post could have been launched—those first two years where you say you were working so many hours; at one point, I read you were working 18-hours days. Do you think The Huffington Post could have been launched if you weren’t working that hard?

AH: Yes, because it’s not a function of how hard we work, but how effective we are. I actually think when I look back at my life that what I achieved would have been more effective and achieved with less stress, exhaustion, and mistakes along the way if I had also taken care of myself in the process.

[That is] because we now have conclusive scientific evidence that there is really no tradeoff between taking care of ourselves and how effective we are. On the contrary, when we get enough sleep, we are less reactive. We are more likely to be able to listen to the whisperings—our own intuition—[and] be able to make better decisions, notice the red flags. All the things that leaders and everybody has to do.

So, I think what you asked is one of the major delusions that we need to address in our culture—which is because people see a lot of very successful men and women who have sacrificed a lot in terms of their own well-being, relationships, [and] life, that this is the way to do it. We need different role models. We need to publicize people who are doing it differently by integrating what I call the Third Metric—these other four pillars of success. You know: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.

TS: Arianna, as the president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, how many hours do you work now in your role?

AH: The most important thing is not how many hours I work, but how many hours I sleep. [Laughs.] That was, for me, the major habit I changed. I went from four to five hours to seven to eight hours. That has been transformational, because it means when I wake up, I’m actually rested, recharged, and ready to be fully present in my day.

So, however many hours I work each day—and it varies, because no two days are the same—what matters is that I’m fully present for that time.

TS: Now, it’s interesting that you brought up sleep here in our conversation so early on. In reading your book Thrive, you actually talk quite a bit about sleep and you call it "the most powerful keystone habit in your life." Powerful keystone habit. I think that’s interesting.

AH: Yes. For me, that’s the most powerful keystone habit. Everybody has their own keystone habit—by which we mean one important habit that when we change, everything else is easier to change. Mine was sleep.

Yours might be something else, but what is important is to make that one fundamental change and then notice how much easier everything else becomes.

TS: Can you tell me how you changed your relationship to sleep? What actual changes [did] you make in your life to get eight hours of sleep?

AH: Well, the first thing was to look at when I had to start my day. Often that meant saying no to things that I might want to do the night before so that I could get my eight hours. It also meant—if say, for some reason I couldn’t, as it often happens in our lives—that I prioritized having a nap. In fact, at The Huffington Post we have two nap rooms.

That has been amazing. At first, it was really hard for people to accept that it was OK to be seen walking into a nap room. But now they’re perpetually full and we’re looking for a third one. Also, another thing that has been great is to change the workplace so that what is stigmatized is walking around like a zombie rather than being seen walking into a nap room.

TS: What is a nap room like? Is it a place just for one person to nap? Or do we get to nap with our co-workers?

AH: [Laughs.] One nap room has two places: a nap pod—this kind of futuristic-looking thing—and a long chaise. The other one is more conventional. It has a bed.

TS: Uh huh. OK, Arianna, you’re talking about getting a good night’s sleep instead of how many hours that you work—that that’s really the main, important thing for your in your life. One of the things I’m really curious [about] is how someone like you—who I imagine has so many different demands on your time (is what I imagine). The news is always breaking. There’s always a new deadline. International Huffington Post offices all over the world. How [have you] come to something to something you call "time affluence" versus "time famine?" How [is it] that you don’t relate to time as something you don’t have enough of on a regular basis?

AH: Well, it wasn’t easy because I lived a large part of my life kind of breathlessly. Every time I would look at my watch, it seemed to be later than I thought or wanted it to be. I think what changed for me was being really present every moment.

You may remember—we were together at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference and Jon Kabat-Zinn looked at his watch and said, "It’s now!" Then, a minute later he looked at his watch and said, "It’s now again." The truth is that it’s now now and it’s now in five minutes. The question is: are we present for this now?

What has helped me a lot is creating pauses and spaces between things. Stopping and taking two, three deep breaths. Two deep inhales and exhales—which reconnects us with ourselves. Or if we’re in line for something at the supermarket or the movies, instead of using this to irritate us, [we can use] it as a kind of enforced break that we can actually use to recharge.

TS: I understand taking pauses and I can see how that’s helpful, but it still seems—when I talk to lots of people who take those pauses, breathe, and spend time relaxing—there’s still this sense of, "I don’t have enough time to do all the things that I feel called to do, to be with my family, be with my friends, and achieve the goals I have. I still feel under so much pressure."

AH: I think [it] has a lot to do with, again, how we define our lives and what [it is] that we feel is most important. I love a quote that I use in the book from Brian Andreas, who said, “Everything changed in her life the day that she realized that she had enough time for all the important things.”

I think, for me, that was the key. Do I have time for all the important things? And I do! I think we all do. What creates that breathlessness is all the stuff we’re adding to our day.

TS: Adding to our day? You mean beyond those most important things? Meaning—

AH: Yes. Including our addiction to technology. How much time do we spend online or on our social media? Or multitasking instead of being fully present in what we’re doing?

TS: So, tell me more about this "being fully present." Because I have to say, Arianna, I’ve experienced this with you. I’ve only met you twice in person, and both times were quite brief. But what I remember was feeling like the light of the sun was shining on me in these very brief interactions that we had, in that you were fully there and then you excused yourself quite graciously.

And I thought, "God, how does she do that? She’s not irritated. She doesn’t seem in a rush." How is she doing that with all of the pressures [that] I perceived you must be under?

AH: Well, thank you first of all. I think it’s a work in progress. I know that when I’m fully present in every encounter, I end my day actually recharged. It’s when I’m scattered—when I’m trying to do more than one thing at a time—that it’s exhausting.

And they have found [scientific evidence] now that multitasking—which scientists tell us doesn’t exist and is actually "task-switching"—is one of the most stressful things we can do.

TS: So, you have trained yourself out of multitasking?

AH: Yes, which was very hard for me. [Laughs.] Including training myself out of walking into my bedroom or walking into a hotel room and immediately turning on the TV.

TS: Well, tell me a little bit about that training process. You mentioned people’s relationship to technology, and I think for many people they’re multitasking on their iPhone or Blackberry all the time. In the book Thrive, you mention that the average person’s checking their email every six minutes—which comes up to be something like 160 times a day. So how does someone who’s addicted to their mobile device train themselves out of that kind of multitasking?

AH: Oh, I think it is a matter of training because when we begin to see the impact it has, then it validates us. Like, for example, when I stopped immediately turning on the television, at first I was concerned that I would—here I am running a 24/7 media operation—[and] I would miss out on something.

But far from it! Not only haven’t I missed anything, but I’ve actually had some silence brought into my life.

TS: Yes. Yes. So, you started seeing the benefits and then those benefits fed on each other, and then that’s what helped you continue?

AH: Exactly. When you see the benefits, then you have an extra incentive to do it.

TS: What is your relationship to your mobile device? How do you work with that so that you’re not multitasking?

AH: Well, obviously I’m on my mobile device a lot. The question is: I’m not on my mobile device ever once I get into bed, because I charge my phones in another room in the house. I think that’s terribly important. There’s so much evidence now that if we wake up in the middle of the night, we’re going to be tempted to look at our data and that immediately interrupts the recharging nature of sleep. So that’s incredibly important.

Never when I’m having dinner with my daughters or friends—we never look at devices. We never put devices out on the table. I did a digital detox for a week over the holidays. It was wonderful to actually not have to Instagram every beautiful sunset or Tweet everything sweet or funny my daughter said.

TS: Do you ever find yourself, though, in a dinner where it’s not that interesting and you think, "I’ll just excuse myself, go to the bathroom, check my email, and see what’s going on in the world. Really, this dinner is not really all that interesting to begin with."

AH: Well, I think it’s just like something can become addictive if we don’t watch it. There is something very seductive about technology. They make it deliberately seductive—it’s not accidental, as my friends who are in the tech world tell me. Like any addiction, we need to work at it.

TS: Yes. Yes. So, Arianna, in talking about the Third Metric, you’re saying there are these two other metrics that for many people define success—which are money and power. Now you’re looking at this Third Metric, which you’re saying has to do with our inner life and also the life of well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.

But just for a moment, I want to talk about this second metric of power that [many] people think is part of success. I mean, there’s the money part—OK, I need enough money and people will define whether or not they have a successful relationship with money based on their own life, needs, and their sense of enough-ness. But what about power? I’m curious to know how power plays into your own definition of success. How you define it even, to begin with.

AH: For me, power is about impact. The ability to influence things and have a real impact on all the things that matter. I think that is key, because other than that it doesn’t have any meaning. I think [that] generally we are moving into an era where leadership is no longer about top-down but about actually being in the center of a circle and more teamwork and more collaboration. The idea of power as a top-down thing is less and less significant.

TS: I’m curious in this if somebody has a lot of ambition. I’m very ambitious and sometimes it’s my ambition that seems to get in the way of this Third Metric—well-being and wonder at the world—because I’m so ambitious. But I’m ambitious because I want to have impact.

How would you address such a person? What’s the right use of ambition?

AH: Well, I think ambition—in terms of having dreams and wanting to fulfill them—there’s nothing wrong with that. For me, it’s all about having proportion restored [from] disproportion. My mother used to say, "What are the things that are in the background of your life? What are the things that are in the foreground?"

The thing that I’m addressing in drive is primarily: are we identified with our ambition? Are we identified with our job, with our goals? Or do we realize that we are bigger than all that?

Oprah asked this question: “What do you know for sure?” My answer is what I know for sure is that who we are inside us, who we truly are, is much bigger and more magnificent than anything we are outside in the world, however great that may be.

TS: Now, what if somebody says, "Well, you know Arianna, it’s kind of easy for you to say that because you’ve achieved so much in terms of the first two metrics—money and power. You have so much success in those realms, so you can focus on this inner dimension—who we are on the inside." But someone who’s listening says, "That’s not my experience, so I need to focus a lot more on those outer things."

AH: So, I think that’s a very valid question and I address it in the book because it’s very important to make it clear that we are able to tap into our own well-being, wisdom, sense of wonder, and giving no matter where we are in life. Whether we are struggling to put food on the table or whether we are at the top of the world, that place in us is available to us.

When we tap into it, we are going to be more resilient and more able to deal with all the challenges and adversities that our life is bringing us. That’s why even—God, people in concentration camps—you can’t have anything more extreme than that. Or at least few things in life. And yet, to have Victor Frankl and others who’ve talked about [how] there were people who remained connected to their essence and remained connected to their loving—which seems like a herculean task to those of us who haven’t had to deal with anything like that.

TS: One of the points that you make in Thrive is that we’re actually at this point of change in the culture. You say we’re hitting critical mass in terms of more and more people now in the mainstream actually being interested in this Third Metric—in our inner life. Do you really think we’re hitting critical mass, Arianna? Really?

AH: Yes! I think if you look at the world, it’s almost like a split screen. You have a lot of the world proceeding in the old way—with burnout, sleep deprivation, exhaustion, depression, addiction—all the epidemics that we are facing.

But you also have more and more people, and more and more companies—35 percent of large and medium-sized companies in the United States introducing some form of stress reduction. You have CEOs in 2013 coming out not as being gay, but as being meditators. Many of them—like Mark Benioff of [salesforce.com] or Ray Dalio of Bridgewater—[are] saying that they have been meditating for over 25 years, but somehow they never said it before because meditation [and] slowing down—all these things were equated with flakiness and New Age-iness and California. [Laughs.]

So yes, there is a big shift happening.

TS: I think part of the reason that I’m quizzical or unclear [if] we [are] really hitting this thing called "critical mass" is here [in] a company like Sounds True, we’ve been around for almost three decades now. Teaching people breathing, meditation practices. And for the whole course of the company’s history, people would say, "We’re about to hit a breakthrough point! It’s going to happen! The tipping point! The world’s interconnected! The hundredth monkey! Harmonic convergence!" Et cetera.

And yet, we see a continuation of so much injustice in the world while a small portion of the population does seem to be tuning to their inner life and starting to change their value system.

But I want to know what you mean by "hitting critical mass" in terms of how the world might look different in the next decade or two to come.

AH: You’re absolutely right. Like in any transition, how you feel about it depends on whether you are focusing on what is dying or on what is being born, because we are seeing everything at once. I think—as we are moving into an era where people are realizing that our world is shaped from the inside out—there’s going to be a greater prioritizing of that, because right now all the signposts and the messages that we get from our culture are all about climbing the ladder, making more money—however much money we may already have.

So now, we need to create our own tribes, our own body system, our own rituals to reinforce regularly reconnecting with our essence. That’s what I’m saying in the book. It doesn’t matter what your entry point is or what form your wake-up call takes. It could be something like what happened to me—burnout; it could be sickness, it could be addiction, it could be the loss of a loved one, [or] the ending of a relationship. Or it could be a line of poetry that stirs something in us or a scientific study that wakes us up.

Whatever it is, I think what is important is to embrace it and begin taking little steps to change what we prioritize in our lives.

TS: And you see this as something that’s going to sweep the population in a very broad way in the years to come?

AH: Yes, but how long it’s going to take, I don’t know. I think all of us working in this field are hoping that in our small ways, we can accelerate the shift. But it’s not in our hands. We can do our part and then watch the response and what happens.

TS: Now, when you say something like, "It’s not in our hands," that begs the question of: Do you have a sense that there is some greater force at work? Is this part of your faith, if you will, as a person? What do you mean by that?

AH: Oh, I definitely believe that there’s a greater force at work in general. In this particular instance, what I meant is that you can be offering meditations and I can be writing a book on Thrive, giving speeches, talking to you—but whether people resonate or at what point they resonate is not in our hands.

TS: I want to circle back for a moment, Arianna, because we started by talking about this wake-up call moment in your life, when you found yourself so exhausted that you broke your cheekbone and were lying in your own blood. Now, we’ve been talking about this quality of presence and a disciplined relationship to television and technology.

I’m curious: Was it really like there was a "before" the wake-up call and an "after" the wake-up call? Because as this story’s being told, it sounds very black and white. I’m wondering if it really worked that way in your life.

AH: It was pretty black and white in terms of the prioritizing and how important I made these practices. These practices had been part of my life on and off—I’ve been meditating since I was 13—but not consistently. I’ve been going to spiritual retreats. I did a course in comparative religion in India. I was always interested in those dimensions of life. I had a mother who lived those dimensions of life. So it’s not like I was an alien to this world.

But there’s a big difference between occasionally integrating this in my life and working to live my life from the inside out, with these practices being at the heart of what I’m doing. And I’m by no means doing this perfectly. But it’s definitely a big priority.

TS: In the section of Thrive when you’re talking about wisdom, one of the things that you point out is how investigating death can be a doorway to wisdom. You talk about how death is the one thing that we all have in common, but that we don’t talk about much publically. I’m curious how you’d like to see that changed. What kinds of conversations do you think it would be helpful for us to be having about death?

AH: Well, first of all, what is good to remember is that every philosopher and every religious teacher has talked about the importance of integrating death into our lives. Socrates memorably called it, "Practice death daily."

Speaking of shifting culture, we now have "Death Over Dinner" events where people come together and literally discuss death and what it means to them over dinner—who have a dinner conversation. But that’s the conversation that Ellen Goodman started, so that you can discuss with your loved ones how they want to die.

I write in the book about my mother, who wanted to die at home. When she fell on what turned out to be the day of her death, she was very clear [that] she did not want us to take her to the hospital. I describe how clear she was, at the end of this journey of doctors and hospitals when she was diagnosed with heart disease—she wanted to be at home.

Often, we don’t have these conversations. So we assume that everybody wants to be in a hospital, plugged into the machines, prolonging life often by a few days. This is an important conversation to have. But just as important for me is how integrating death into our lives changes what we prioritize. Right now, we’re kind of living life pretending that we won’t die.

TS: It’s interesting—as you were talking about business leaders who are coming out of the closet now and saying that they’re meditating. So they’re not coming out about their sexual life, they’re coming out and saying, "I’m a meditator . . ."

AH: Right.

TS: . . . Or whatever their inner life is. This idea that the topic of death could come out of the shadows—out of the closet, if you will—and that people could talk about their feelings about it. Why do you think it’s so taboo in our culture in general for people to talk about death?

AH: Because the minute we actually integrate death in our life, it seems pretty meaningless to just focus on how quickly we’re going to become the next VP [or] whether we increased market share by one-third as the absolute priorities of our lives.

Actually, I have this section in the book about eulogies. When you’re in a memorial—a friend’s memorial—you realize that nobody ever is eulogized like that. Have you ever heard anybody say, "George increased market share by one-third," or, "George made a billion dollars?" We are always eulogized about the other things. How we made people feel; how we make people laugh; small kindnesses; lifelong passions.

So wouldn’t [it] be nice to actually live life differently too?

TS: So you’re saying that part of the reason you think people don’t talk more about death is because it would undermine the way that our culture is oriented towards achievement?

AH: Yes. Absolutely.

TS: It would change—

AH: There’s nothing wrong with achievement. It’s just when we shrink ourselves to think that we are these achievements. I was just thinking about that, because I’m taping Ellen this afternoon and reading about her life, it’s clear. If she had defined herself as the host of this super-successful sitcom, she would never have come out, because the biggest priority for her was maintaining her status and maintaining the sitcom. Now she writes [that] after she came out in her sitcom, the phone didn’t ring for three years. It was a different time.

She was willing to take that risk because she knew that she was not the host of the sitcom. She was something more and bigger, and if she didn’t live that truth, then the success [in] the way the culture defined it would be pretty meaningless.

TS: I heard you interviewed at Wisdom 2.0 a year ago—a year-and-a-half ago—at Wisdom 2.0, a conference that explores technology and wisdom coming together. The host asked you, "At the time of your own death, what do you most want to be remembered for?"

You gave this really interesting answer. You said at the time of your death, you don’t think you’ll be looking backward, but you imagine yourself looking forward instead. That answer really got my attention, and I’m curious to know what you think you might be looking forward to? What informed that answer that you gave?

AH: The first thing that informed the answer is that I believe that we are not our bodies and we are not our achievements in this world. So I have zero interest in my "legacy." I feel that death is a little bit like dropping your rental car and flying. I would be much more interested in flying and where it takes me. I don’t claim to know, but I’m fascinated by it and I definitely would not be reviewing what my rental car did.

TS: One of the points you make in Thrive—in addition to talking about this time in our culture where we’re reaching critical mass of interest in the inner life—is that your sense is that we’re going through something called a "Third Women’s Revolution." I wonder if you could talk a little bit about that—how you see this Third Women’s Revolution.

AH: If we look at the First Women’s Revolution being about getting us the vote and the Second Women’s Revolution being about getting us access to all jobs, the top of every field, equal pay—and I realize this is a very incomplete revolution. The Third Women’s Revolution that is critically important right now is changing the world in which women are participating and competing.

It’s not enough anymore to say, "I want to have 50 percent of the top jobs in the world," when the world is not working, the way it’s designed by men. It’s not working for women; it’s not working for men; it’s not working for polar bears. I think women have to take the lead in changing it, with the help of many good men.

Because it’s particularly not working for women. We have stats that show that women in stressful jobs have a 40 percent greater incidence of heart disease and 60 percent greater threat of diabetes because of the way we internalize stress.

TS: Seeing—as you have in your position—what the different levers are that could create dramatic changes in the world and the system we’re all living in, what do you think are those most important levers that women can pull—that women can focus on to create these kinds of changes?

AH: Well, first of all, depending on where they are in the workplace—if they are able to make changes, to do so. I mean, I made a lot of changes at [The Huffington Post]. People know that they are not expected to be on email or answer work emails after hours or over the weekend, unless that’s their shift. We have regular meditation, yoga, breathing classes, healthy snacks, the nap rooms. In a sense, we value everyone for much more than their job that they’re doing at [The Huffington Post].

What I want to stress is that what is good employees is good for [The Huffington Post]. More and more companies are identifying that and realizing that what is good for their employees is good for the bottom line.

TS: So, making changes in the workplace where you find yourself—whatever role you have in that particular workplace?

AH: Exactly. And if you’re in an unpleasant work environment [or] if you can’t change jobs for economic realities at that moment, then to just create your own little support group within that environment. Create some boundaries and show how much you can get done without hurting yourself and your relationships.

TS: I want to make sure I understand what you mean by "the Third Women’s Revolution," because I’m not quite sure I’m clear on it. So, women at this time would be focused on changing cultural norms that aren’t good for any of us? Is that what you mean?

AH: Yes, exactly. They’re definitely not good for men too. I mean, look at the price men pay with heart attacks, ulcers, and high blood pressure in their 50s and 60s.

TS: And that we can change these cultural norms by being outspoken and making sure that we’re living what you might call Third Metric lives?

AH: Yes, and by actually being able to prioritize that. And to define success differently for ourselves. That would have a dramatic impact.

TS: I’m curious, Arianna, when The Huffington Post was purchased by AOL, did you feel that you have to compromise the culture in any way now that you’re part of AOL?

AH: Oh, not at all. No. I think it’s been great for our culture because all the things that we wanted to do—grow internationally (we’re now in 11 countries and we were only in the US when AOL bought The Huffington Post).

We are now a major platform for all these ideas. When [The Huffington Post] was bought by AOL, we were still primarily a politics and news site. Now, we have over 70 sections—sections on the Third Metric, issues, healthy living [that] have—last month—surpassed our Politics sections in traffic. We launched a big streaming-video network. None of that would have happened without the support and resources that AOL has brought into [The Huffington Post].

TS: And there’s no sense that the focus of a company like AOL on financial return creates any compromise in how the culture is handled?

AH: Not at all. No. We’ve been there for three years, so I have plenty of evidence that that hasn’t happened.

TS: So it seems like that is a myth, then. Certainly a myth that I’ve been subject to believe in—that if you take a small company that’s very values-driven and make it part of a larger company that is potentially focused more on short-term financial results, there will be compromises involved. I think you’re saying, from your experience, that hasn’t been the case.

AH: I think it all depends. I’m sure there are many other cases where that happened exactly as you describe it. But we were very determined it wouldn’t happen and that was part of our agreement before the acquisition.

TS: That you would maintain control of some of the key cultural variables? That kind of thing?

AH: Yes, exactly.

TS: OK, I want to go back to this—really, in many ways—central point, I feel. [This] is this ability that you’re cultivating and you’re prioritizing in this Third Metric work—which is to be present. This quality of presence.

I’m curious: When you feel that something difficult is happening in your life—like maybe some attack on you in the press, some negative press, or criticism—how do you maintain that quality of presence when things like that are happening?

AH: Oh, I think that’s actually a very good barometer of where I am in my own journey—whether I can basically not allow things that happen that I consider unfair or things that could throw me off-center, to do so. If they do throw me off-center, my role model is a child—the way a child reacts to being upset, and then two minutes later it’s gone.

I don’t believe in growing a thick skin. I believe in being permeable. You get upset, and then you let the upset go through you and then out of you.

TS: And when you have a sense that perhaps you’re not spending your time that you could be—or, "Oh, this could be a waste of my time. What am I doing? This is not really the right way I could be spending my time." How do you stay present in those situations?

AH: First of all, I think it’s important to see how much you can change your schedule, so you don’t have as many of these situations as you used to have—although all of us have things that we have to do in our jobs [that] are not our favorite things.

Then, I think there’s a lot we can do—even in a board meeting. Like our breathing exercises or connecting with ourselves in a way beyond whatever boring PowerPoint you may be watching.

TS: So you’re saying no matter what situation you’re in, there’s a way that you could find a way to make it nourishing, potentially. If you can’t change it—

AH: Not always, of course. I’m not saying that that’s always possible. But then allowing ourselves nourishing time after draining times. We all have a mixture. We’re not going to suddenly eliminate those times.

TS: Now, Arianna, just one final topic I’d like to talk with you about. In the Thrive book—in the section on wisdom, one of the four pillars of this Third Metric—you talk about how it’s possible, when we have periods of time in our life where we’re suffering, that we can find an alchemy (is the word you use) in suffering. That it’s possible to find a way to make meaning, wisdom, and strength out of our suffering.

I’m wondering if you could share with us how perhaps in your own life things have happened to you that you would say, "This was a period of suffering, but it turned into wisdom and strength."

AH: I think definitely when my daughter got involved in drugs. I got that call that every parent dreads—"Mommy, I can’t breathe." And there was the drive from New York to New Haven, where she was two months away from graduating at Yale. Then the weeks and months that followed. Mercifully, she’s been sober two years now.

All [of] that was a moment of pain and challenge. I feel that the work I had done on myself in 2007 made it easier for me to focus on all the things I was grateful for—like the fact that she was alive. The fact that she wanted to get well. The fact that she had a loving family that had rallied around her.

TS: So, in that period of suffering, you were still able to touch a sense of gratitude—even in the midst of it?

AH: Yes, exactly.

TS: OK, Arianna, my final question. Redefining success—it’s about these new priorities. I’m curious: if you were to list—right now, in your life—your top three priorities. I imagine one of them is going to sleep—but maybe not. Let’s see.

[Huffington laughs.]

TS: Your top three priorities, for you. Really, truly—right now in your life. What would you say they are?

AH: You know, I’ve actually included them all at the end of each chapter because I wanted to include the small steps that I took and all of us can take so that we can move from theory—we can move from, "Yes, I agree with that," to actually crossing that bridge, to transforming our lives.

We won’t have time to go through all of them, but at the end the "Well-being” chapter, I would say that probably the most important thing—beyond sleep—is introducing even five minutes of meditation into our day. Eventually, we can build up to 15, 20, or a lot more. But even just a few minutes will open the door to creating a new habit and all the proven benefits that it brings.

When it comes to wisdom—beyond the gratitude list that I believe in, and listening to our inner wisdom, and letting go of things that don’t serve us—I think the most immediate point that I’ve religiously introduced into my life (and I recommend to everyone) is to have a specific time at night when we regularly turn off our devices and gently escort them out of our bedroom. I can’t say enough about that. [Laughs.]

In terms of wonder, I think forgiveness is key to being able to be present in life and experience the wonder and its mystery. Forgiving ourselves for any judgments we are holding against ourselves and any judgments that we are holding of others. When I find that hard, I always think to myself, "If Nelson Mandela can do it, so can I."

Finally, at the end of the "Giving" section, again I recommend starting with very small gestures of kindness and giving. For me, the most important thing is making personal connections with people that you might normally tend to pass by and take for granted. You know—the checkout clerk, the cleaning crew at your office or your hotel, the barista in the coffee shop. It’s amazing how much this helps us feel more alive and reconnect to the moment.

TS: Arianna, thank you so much for being willing to bring your time, your presence, your love, and your priorities to our program, Insights at the Edge. Thank you.

AH: Thank you so much. It was a real pleasure.

TS: Arianna Huffington, the author of a new book called Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-being, Wisdom, and Wonder. She’s also hosting a series of live events. The first one is taking place in New York City [on] April 24th to the 25th—a "Third Metric Live Event" on redefining success, which will feature thought leaders from different fields, including the worlds of entertainment, fashion, politics, and technology.

If you’re interested, you can visit the website thirdmetriclive.com. As a listener to Sounds True’s Insights at the Edge, if you’re interested in attending, you can receive a $50 discount on the ticket price by entering the code ST50. So that’s thirdmetriclive.com and you can use the code ST50 for a $50 discount.

Again, Arianna, thank you and good luck today on The Ellen Show!

AH: Thank you so much! Thank you.

TS: We’d also like to thank our sponsor, Spirituality & Health magazine. SoundsTrue.com. Many voices, one journey. Thanks for listening.