Week 5: Thrive OCourse with Arianna Huffington

I just completed the fifth week of Arianna Huffington’s 6-week Thrive OCourse, an online course based on her book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder. Taking an extended course like this one requires a fair amount of commitment and there have been times when I’ve fallen behind schedule. What I love about Arianna’s approach is that she continually reminds us that there should be no self judgment, no beating ourselves up. So instead of feeling guilty, when I can, I just pick up where I left off and continue. It totally takes the pressure off and makes me feel better.

Lesson’s intention: We should take the time to wonder like when we were children and make personal connections.

Reading assignments: primary reading 174-188; supplemental reading 194-202, 202-221, 247-250

Life audit: Give my full attention to something or someone, to an everyday task or routine, and reflect on how it feels. The purpose of this exercise is to be present and mindful in everything we do, no matter how routine or mundane.

Keystone habits: Two new habits that we’re encouraged to start practicing.

Image of wonder: Choose an image that helps inspire and ignite a sense of wonder and joy in me. Images of nature such as gardens, oceans, mountains, deserts, and forests always inspire a sense of awe in me. They also instill a feeling of peace and tranquility.

Make a personal connection: Connect with someone I would normally pass by or take for granted. It can be the cashier at the register at the supermarket, or the housekeeper at my office, or anyone else I come in regular contact with. Offer a compliment or start a conversation. Make that person feel noticed.

Trackers: These are the tools that help us track our progress and stay on course.

Guest teacher: Happiness expert Shawn Achor, is the author of The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, and other books. He talks with Arianna about the similarities between his research on happiness and hers on thriving. He also suggests two exercises to do for three consecutive days: (1) scan the world for a moment of wonder and record why it’s meaningful, (2) write a two-minute email/text first thing in the morning to three people telling them why they’re meaningful in your life. Arianna also invited her daughter Isabella, who is an artist, to talk about how shutting out distractions helps her in the creative process.

Community board: A place to communicate with our thrive tribe, or community of supporters.

Live “office hours”: This is a time when Arianna is available to answer our questions. I asked a question about releasing resentments. Arianna suggested that I think about whether it will matter to me many years from now. If not, it was not worth holding onto.

This week’s key points: Multitasking is the enemy of mindfulness. When we give our full attention to what we’re doing, we’re able to experience it fully. Some people call it being “in the zone”. Divided attention dilutes it. Try to recapture that feeling of awe and wonder we had as children where everything was fresh and new. Go beyond our comfort zone and make a personal connection with someone we may only interact with briefly or occasionally.

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