Huffington urges students to redefine success
    Photo by Lucy Wang / North by Northwestern

    She spent her Saturday in sweatpants, reading and chatting with her daughter, after getting 11 hours of sleep the night before.

    She’s also the editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post.

    Instead of letting work and stress take over her life, Arianna Huffington makes time to take a break and recharge – and urged Northwestern students to do the same at a talk Sunday night.

    “It’s not that we can completely eliminate stress, but we can put it in its place,” she said.

    Huffington spoke to an almost full auditorium in Harris Hall in an event sponsored by A&O and the Office of the President. Her talk, moderated by “AM Tonight” anchor Alicia Menendez, was part of a promotional tour for her new book, "Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder."

    A panel of three students – McCormick junior Jon Feldman, Weinberg sophomore Arianna Yanes and Weinberg senior Nancy DaSilva – discussed problems they faced as college students, from job applications to balancing academics with socializing.

    “This is the generation we need to reach,” said Huffington about her message that success needs to be defined by metrics other than money and power.

    Her book was partially prompted by a breakdown she had seven years ago, in which she collapsed in her home office from exhaustion, hitting her head on her desk and breaking her cheekbone.

    “I thought to myself, by conventional definitions of success, I am successful,” Huffington said. “But by any sane definition of success, if you’re lying in a pool of blood on the floor of your office … you’re not successful.”

    Huffington urged students to view failures as new opportunities, citing from her personal experience of a failed relationship that led her to leave London and move to New York, and her “whole life happened because of that.”

    But as someone responsible for overseeing editors, writers and fellows, she also knows the value of success. When hearing Feldman talk about several failed rejection letters, Huffington offered him a fellowship on the spot.

    “It’s a cliché but it’s a whirlwind of emotions right now,” Feldman said. “To have someone like Arianna Huffington look at me in the eye and say ‘Would you want to do this?” is amazing.”

    Aside from asking students to rethink their definitions of success, Huffington said universities need to improve the level of emotional support they offer to students, citing her own daughters as examples.

    Still, she said the cultures and definitions are already changing.

    “We have to make it okay not to be okay,” Huffington said. “That’s why there is this shift now towards being willing to be vulnerable, being willing to let down the mask and the pretense that it’s all okay.”


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