Breakfast with Arianna Huffington
03 June 2014
It's not often that you will find me at an event before 7:30am, but an invitation to an interview with Arianna Huffington was certainly a strong enough draw. And I am very glad I made it.
Organised by Red Events (of *Red* magazine), the event was held at the rather glamorous premises of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. This was the second Red Event I have been to and I have to say that I rather like the formula. The hosts offered free-flowing coffee and mini-croissants, and a presumably super-healthy green juice concoction, before we took our seats in the auditorium and claimed our goody bags.
During the interview with Red Editor Sarah Bailey, Huffington explained her concept of the third metric as expounded in her new book Thrive: that a full and healthy life is based on the four pillars of wellbeing, wisdom, wonder and giving. This could sound trite were it not for the fact that Huffington herself experienced a major life-changing moment brought on by overwork, and throughout the interview clearly and persuasively made the case for a healthier approach to work/life balance.
There is no doubt that this is a topic of the moment- and an important one as we, as a society, become permanently switched on to devices and ever-connected. It was gratifying to see such a high-profile figure propound the benefits of yoga, mindfulness and meditation - tried and tested tools that have been used effectively for centuries.
Huffington argues that there is no trade-off between healthy employees and the bottom line, and advocates increased awareness of one's own 'battery' levels. She referred several times to mindfulness and meditation as tools for slowing down the pace of life and being fully present in the moment, and contended that there is no such thing as multi-tasking- what was once considered multitasking is now regarded as switching tasks. Huffington also alluded to the inner critic (her “silent obnoxious room-mate”) - arguably particularly pertinent in a room mainly full of women. Huffington is also a big believer in sleep and urges busy people to sleep longer or nap to recharge and refresh.
Questions from the audience extended our time with this elegant, charming and persuasive woman before she left the stage to start the book signings (one giant queue) downstairs. I have my copy – unsigned, but still very much valued.
[Photograph credit, right: Katie Hyams]