Arianna Huffington urged the need for a definition of success that accounts for personal well-being in a panel discussion held on Tuesday.
In her latest book, “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder,” Huffington, chair, president and editor in chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, claims that people need to stop associating success only with money and power and instead consider “the Third Metric of success.” The Third Metric is constituted of what Huffington calls “four pillars” — well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving.
Huffington said that her own collapse in 2007 due to extreme stress allowed her to question the traditional metrics of success.
“By conventional definition of success, I was successful,” she said, “but by any sane definition of success, if you are lying in a pool of blood on the floor … you are not successful.”
That experience led Huffington to ask herself the questions that “all the philosophers have asked forever — What is good life? What is success?”
Huffington explained that implementing those values of the Third Metric could make life fuller and more meaningful.
Huffington discussed her book with Anne-Marie Slaughter ’80, president and CEO of the New America Foundation and professor emerita at the Wilson School. In 2012, Slaughter shed light on the obstacles to reaching true gender equality in the professional world and spurred a national debate with her article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” which appeared in the June 2012 issue of The Atlantic Magazine.
The two women discussed how applying the Third Metric in everyday life could transform one’s life. Slaughter, who said that she established a personal morning ritual to focus on her well-being after reading Huffington’s book, said that her life had been more joyful and full of wonder ever since.
Huffington and Slaughter noted that both men and women need to be included in the discourse on redefining success. Huffington said that women need to step up and lead the change.
“The way the world is constructed at the moment, designed by men, it’s not working now,” Huffington said. “It’s not working for women; it’s not working for men.”
Slaughter added that new role models for young boys are needed to prevent boys from having a narrow vision of life. She said that men are often more restricted in life choices, which is partially why the male vision of success is narrower.
“We need to allow their sons the same choices that we give their daughters,” Slaughter said.
An audience member who did not identify herself by name raised concern about student mental health issues at the University, asking what Huffington thinks the problem is and how institutions could help students deal with extreme stress.
Huffington answered that the main issue is the general view that stress and depression are part of a normal college experience.
“It’s not an inevitable part of student life. It should never be,” she said.
Huffington added that institutions should enable students to speak about their problems by initiating the conversation on mental health issues, as well as telling students what is important in their lives.
The discussion, “Redefining Success,” took place at 7 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium. The event was sponsored by the Women’s Center.