Four Key Athlete Takeaways from THRIVE by Arianna Huffington
I just finished reading Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington, and I can’t believe I *just* read it! Honestly. THIS is why I’m so stoked to be in one place for a minute: I’m reunited with my first love: the library. I’ve written about how awesome it is to be able to use the digital library offshoot of our local branch, and it has so many positives. But what I really missed was the ability to browse through the stacks, grabbing books that catch my eye. Shallow/reliant on fonts? Sure… But I find some great reads this way! That’s how I ended up with Thrive: I spotted it while walking the nonfiction section and remembered that it’s been on my “check this book out sometime” list for quite a while.
I know this book came out in 2014, so I am seriously SHOCKED I haven’t read it sooner—and I guess that shows how infrequently I’ve gotten to a physical library! Anyway, I grabbed it and couldn’t put it down. (It’s also a lot shorter than you’d think when looking at it: there’s a heft appendix/reference list/index at the end, so it’s about 2/3 the length that you think it is.)
Anyway, I wanted to write about a few of the key concepts that she talks about, in the context of reading the book as an athlete (and a human being).
Making time to meditate is something I know I SHOULD be doing every day. I mean, who can’t carve out 10 minutes? “Like airlines, we routinely overbook ourselves, fearful of any unused capacity, confident that we can fit everything in,” Huffington says. “We fear that if we don’t cram as much as possible into our day, we might miss out on something fabulous, important, special, or career advancing.” That’s what keeps me from sitting down and meditating… And when I do hit the down time, I mainly just want to veg out with a novel or a crappy TV show, versus doing something so self-care cliched. But then, I know when I do actually make time for it—I’ve been using the free Oak app lately—I really feel a lot better and the anxiety that I do deal with on the regular is kept a little more in check. So the book was a good reminder that it’s time to prioritize that.
The book’s intro reads: “In being connected to the world 24/7, we’re losing our connection to what truly matters. Our current definition of success is, as Thrive shows, literally killing us. We need a new way forward.”
Yep. We’re super connected, but at the same time, utterly disconnected in real ways. “Being connected in a shallow way to the entire world can prevent us from being deeply connected to those closest to us—including ourselves,” Huffington writes. With how much we’ve been on the road, even my parents are connected to me largely by following what I do online, punctuated by quick phone calls on occasion. That’s something that’s been on my mind a lot—and that’s why my resolution for 2018 centered around Community as my buzzword. I have a new crit team I’m on, we’re working on an off-road cycling club in Collingwood, and we have a bunch of Shred Girls events lined up. Beyond that, there are some women I’m hoping to train with more regularly, and actually get out riding with a crew of people more frequently. Even yoga teacher training is about connecting, on a lot of levels. So, more focus on in-person connections, for sure.
“A 2013 study on mice showed that during sleep the brain clears out harmful waste proteins that build up between its cells—a process that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.”
That’s why when Peter and I launched our free 7-Day Kickstart Guide to Healthy Habits, sleep was one of the first things that we tackled. It’s the biggest make-or-break for athletes. “Take the cheetah, the fastest land animal on earth, for example,” Huffington writes. “It can accelerate from zero to sixty miles per hour in just three seconds. But it also spends up to eighteen hours a day sleeping. They’re sleeping their way to the top of the animal kingdom.” Thrive was conceived when Huffington had her “personal wake-up call came in the form of a broken cheekbone and a nasty gash over her eye–the result of a fall brought on by exhaustion and lack of sleep.”
She writes: “Professor Roenneberg says, “We sometimes overeat, but we generally cannot oversleep. When we wake up unprompted, feeling refreshed, we have slept enough.””
It’s so freaking true. Lately, I’ve been trying to make sure I’m sleeping for at least 8 hours a night, and I noticed that this week, I had a lot of interrupted, crappy sleep and it made me feel like absolute $hit. I was more anxious, I felt fatigued ALL day, my stomach was off… So much stems from a lack of GOOD sleep.
“One study demonstrated that volunteering at least once a week yields improvements to well-being tantamount to your salary increasing from $20,000 to $75,000,” Huffington says. Now, I know giving isn’t something we think about a ton as athletes. And it’s something I struggle with internally a bit, since I tend to feel like my cycling contributions, i.e helping start this off-road club, working with girls and women’s groups and hosting free training and women’s cycling talks, donating old gear to youth programs… All of that is still work-related, even if it’s stuff that doesn’t make me any money. It’s also stuff that I love doing, so I do need to remind myself that it is still helping people. None of us are in the cycling world to get rich—we’re in it to spread the joy of cycling and being active. That said, I do want to focus more on giving back, not just through cycling stuff (though more of that, for sure!) but in actually getting into more of the local charities that we have in Collingwood. Again, that Community thing is springing back up.
But the takeaway for athletes in particular is, I think, to consider how you can use your sport/your talents to give back, whether it’s donating gear or cash to local programs in need, or jumping in as a volunteer coach, or helping at events that raise money for causes you care about.
Long story short, if you’re feeling like you’re in a rut and don’t necessarily need to lose 10 pounds, organize your workspace, clean your house, get things done, et cetera, this book is a great, in-depth, science-backed look at ways we can make ourselves thrive from an internal space, versus striving for external benchmarks.
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