“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.”
Over winter break between semesters I was invited to attend a weeklong leadership program at my college. This program was geared towards helping young women at my college feel more confident with themselves and their ability to step forward and lead. We focused a lot on learning more about ourselves as individuals, because you can’t be a truly effective leader if you don’t have a decent understanding of who you are as a person. We were asked to read Arianna Huffington’s Thrive before the program started so we could discuss it when we were all together. I knew very little about Arianna Huffington prior to reading this book, which made me even more intrigued and excited to read it.
Thrive had such an incredibly strong beginning that I honestly thought it would end up being one of my new favorite books. It promised to deliver eye-opening advice and insight about how to enrich our lives and regain our sense of inner peace. Unfortunately, as I read more and more my enthusiasm began to wane. There’s only so much incessant repetition and overly broad claims one can take before the lack of depth becomes glaringly notable. Where were all of the revolutionary tips and tricks I was promised? What about the key to living a more fulfilling, relaxed, happier life? While this book was undeniably inspirational, organized, and well-written, I do think that its introduction and the way it was marketed were a bit misleading.
A major strength of this book is its simple but effective organization. The bulk of it is split into four sections, which Huffington refers to as the Third Metric by which to measure our success and happiness: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving. Such a clearly defined structure makes it easier for the reader to understand what they’re currently reading and to be aware of what’s coming up next. Acting as the driving force behind Thrive, these well-balanced sections lend to a reading experience of greater comprehension and clarity.
One aspect of murky gray area for me was the purpose of this book. From the very beginning I expected it to be strictly a self-help book, but the numerous personal anecdotes and references to Huffington’s own life led me to believe it was more of a memoir. Again, I think this is a gray area created by the marketing surrounding this book. In reality it seems to be a mix of both self-help and memoir, but to me it was marketed more towards the former. This discrepancy isn’t necessarily negative; rather, I note it only to say that it did cause me to raise some questions while I was reading.
Moreover, I feel as though the marketing was also misleading in terms of the audience it tried to reach. While reading this book I felt as though it was aimed at a different group of people— those with steady careers and enough money to live comfortable, privileged lives. As a college student worried about paying off student loans and staying afloat financially after graduating, Huffington’s urgent advice to take time off from work to do yoga and meditate sounds unrealistic. In an ideal situation I’m sure practicing such methods of relaxation is noticeably effective, but she can hardly expect the average person to implement her suggestions on a regular basis.
Despite the many critiques I have of Thrive as explained in this review, my reading experience overall was quite positive. Personally, I enjoyed this book due to the thoughts and outlooks it inspired me to have as much as because of the content itself. If you’re looking for a book that will make you shift your outlook on life in a different, more positive direction, then I would definitely recommend giving Huffington’s Thrive a chance.
Have you read this book before? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!