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Summary of Thrive by Arianna Huffington

About the author

Arianna Huffington is originally from Greece, she moved to England when she was sixteen and graduated from Cambridge University with an MA in economics.

Arianna Huffington book summary

She is most known for being the co-founder and chief editor of the Huffington Post. She is also a popular nationally syndicated columnist and a successful author of many other books besides this one that has reached the New York Times bestseller lists. Also, she is a TV personality, she is the co-host of a popular political TV show.

She had been listed by Forbes as one of the most influential women in media and named to the Time 100, Time magazine’s list of the world’s one hundred most influential people.

Summary notes

Thrive published in 2014 and quickly became a best-seller. The overall subject of the book talks about our journey to achieving success but not how most people traditionally think of it.

Summary of Thrive by Arianna Huffington

In this book Arianna Huffington questions our typical definition of success and explains why it is so important for us to redefine it. Most people consider success only in terms of money and power, but she believes we need to redefine this; so it will greatly improve our lives and transform it for the better.

In Thrive explained that our definition of success based on money and power alone is like a two-legged stool, you can balance on them for a while but on round, they’ll eventually cause you to come crashing down. A lesson learned in the Exxon Valdez wreck, the explosion of the Challenger Space Shuttle and the nuclear accidents at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island all at least partially caused by lack of sleep.

Through this book, Arianna says that this is just not sustainable anymore and we need to find a third metric to go alongside those two. In her opinion, the third metric would be a combination of well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving. There are four main chapters in the book which go through those four areas.

Chapter 1: Well-being

She wants to drill the fact that the current model of success is driving people into the ground if not into the grave. The fact is that so many people are working hard like it’s a badge of honor and it shouldn’t be.

“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.” 

Instead, she says that we need to put well-being right at the top of the agenda not just as individuals because it’s really important to ourselves, but actually when companies put the well-being of their employees at the top, it means that their bottom line benefits.

Philosophers have long known that our well-being is deeply connected to our compassion and giving. “No one can live happily who has regard for himself alone and transforms everything into a question of his own utility,” wrote Seneca in AD 63. As a more modern-day philosopher, David Letterman, said in AD 2013, “I have found that the only thing that does bring you happiness is doing something good for somebody who is incapable of doing it for themselves.”

Well-being covers multiple areas but one of them that she mentioned in the book is sleep.

“sleep deprivation reduces our emotional intelligence, self-regard, assertiveness, sense of independence, empathy toward others, the quality of our interpersonal relationships, positive thinking, and impulse control.” 

(You may also like to read the summary of Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker)

Chapter 2: Wisdom

In this chapter, she talks about how we need to spend more time and listening to our intuition.

One big source of wisdom is intuition, our inner knowing. We’ve all experienced it: a hunch, an inkling, our inner voice telling us to do something or not to do something. We hear the message, and it feels right, even if we can’t explain why.

In order to listen to your intuition, you may need to make time for space, quietness, and stillness. That’s something that in today’s world you actually have to, like a schedule that time to happen otherwise it doesn’t. She talks about meditating, mindfulness and gratitude.

“If you take care of your mind, you take care of the world.’ ” 

In this chapter she also talks about the idea I was needing to be living in the moment and that is when we can really hear ourselves, be present and we can really get the most out of it. So that we’re living the success that we were actually achieving.

Chapter 3: Wonder

In her opinion wonder is not just a product of what we see – of how beautiful or mysterious or singular or incomprehensible something may be. It’s just as much a product of our state of mind, our being, the perspective from which we are looking at the world.
Arianna talks about the idea of coincidences and that you need to be open about them. She also discussed the idea of how holidays didn’t just use to be an escape and there needed to be a time for you to recoup but it also used to be a moment for you to reconnect with your spiritual self. That’s something that a lot of people don’t do anymore.

“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.” 

Chapter 4: Giving

In this chapter, the author talks about how volunteering is so important. Giving makes people so happy and then actually you get so much out of giving and therefore we need to make it part of our daily lives. This doesn’t have to be giving in the sense of money when we think of charities in that traditional sense.

Giving, loving, caring, empathy and compassion, going beyond ourselves and stepping out of our comfort zones to help serve others – this is the only viable answer to the multitude of problems the world is facing. If well-being, wisdom, and wonder are our response to a personal wake-up call, service naturally follows as the response to the wake-up call for humanity.

She talks about just small acts of kindness and how building that into your life means not only are you having a positive effect on others, but you will receive goodness out of those acts too.


This book is all about you thriving, it’s not about surviving. It’s about really understanding how to thrive and to make a version of success that is fulfilling to you in every single way. If you are ready to join the growing worldwide movement of women and men who are defining success as more than just money and power, then it’s time for you to thrive. You don’t need to wait for your wake-up call, pick up your copy of Thrive to start building true success on what truly matters and start thriving.
Thrive is designed as a bridge between knowing what we need to do and actually doing it. In this book you’ll find your own way across that bridge; through the latest data, academic research and scientific findings to convince even the most stubborn skeptic. You’ll also find daily practice tools and techniques that are easy to incorporate into your life right now, for real lasting success.

What did you learn from Thrive? What was your favorite takeaway? Is there an important insight that we may have left out? Is there something you disagree with? Comment below or tweet to us @storyshots.

Related books:

Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday (Open in the app)

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker (Open in the app)

Chapter by Chapter Summary of Thrive by Arianna Huffington

Adapted from Arianna Huffington and PropelHer Youtube channels

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