Thriving with Digital Detox and Striving towards Augmented Humanity: The Arianna Huffington Way

'The solution is not to divorce technology but to take frequent, guilt-free breaks from it.'

80% Indians are stressed at work and overexposure to technology is a contributing factor.

Arianna Huffington’s new venture Thrive Global has a powerful mission – to end the stress and burnout epidemic present today by offering companies and individuals sustainable, science-based solutions to enhance well-being, performance, and purpose, and create a healthier relationship with technology. Thrive Global is committed to accelerating the culture shift that allows people to reclaim their lives and move from merely surviving to thriving.

Given the hectic and increasingly demanding schedules of our lives, we never stop to introspect and recharge ourselves. Many times, we are stressed and burned out only to realize that one of the major reasons for that is our addiction to technology. We have reached a stage where technology often decreases personal productivity.

Bank of England’s unofficial blog carried a chart that compared plunging productivity with the soaring shipments of smartphones. As Tim Harford explains, typical productivity growth in advanced economies hovered steadily around 1 per cent a year for several decades, but has on average been negative since 2007. That was the year the iPhone started to ship. Nobody really believes that the iPhone caused the productivity slowdown — a more obvious culprit would be the global financial crisis — but it is hard to find people who think that their phones are an unalloyed blessing.

The solution is not to divorce technology but to take frequent, guilt-free breaks from it.
Recently Network Capital served as the Community Engagement Partner for Huffington’s Twitter Townhall in Mumbai where she explained her choice for India to be the first country outside the United States to expand Thrive Global. “I truly believe that, more than any other place on earth, India has the answers to what I see as the biggest question of our time: how we work and live in an age when change is exponentially faster and technology has permeated every aspect of our lives.”
One of the major takeaways from the townhall was the importance of creating a platform or community where people come forward and share their stories, lessons and insights about coping with technology, modernity and information explosion. She shared her own story of collapsing after pushing herself too hard.

The paradox of truth
Arianna proposed that we use technology to manage technology – provide information about ways to be less burned out, gather ancient wisdom, new data/statistics on human health, among other things.
Paradoxes are ever present in human life, perhaps more so than certainties. Yet another one here tells us that incorporating a deep acceptance of contradictions in our daily lives can provide us with peace and understanding.

Don’t overlook the essential: Sleep
When was the last time you considered sleep a priority over texting, watching TV, partying, or even catching up on work? It is an easily overlooked part of most of our lives. A maxim that came up in the Townhall – “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” – is frequently adopted. We consider sleep to be least important activity of our lives, pushing ourselves to work for more than 16 hours a day. We fail to realise the importance of sleep. It not only helps heal damaged cells but also improves cardio vascular activities. It is the time our body recovers from the day’s activities and starts it night work. Yet, it is the most neglected activity. Today, the easiest thing to sacrifice is sleep to cope up with our work. We need to change our fundamental priorities. We need to hold our health above all else, and make decisions accordingly always.
The explosion of technology in our lives means that we are always on these new toys which we resort to in our free time. These unhealthy habits are our own priority even in our free time. Our life revolves around technology without us realising it. What do we do in our free time? Watch TV, movies, use Facebook, Instagram. Look how everything starts from technology and ends at technology. The moment we realise that technology is a “great servant but a terrible master” is when we adopt a healthier lifestyle. We need to set boundaries to the extent at which technology is part of our lives. It is important to realise that disconnecting from technology once a while doesn’t make you a less tech savy person instead lets you build and develop human values like friendships and relationships. Even Steve Jobs who defines technology for us today, realised the importance of meditation and gifted the book- Autobiography of a Yogi after he died as a parting gift to his close friends. It was said that he got most of his new ideas after meditation.

Changing perceptions: Embrace the concept of well-being
In times like these, people in India are trying to embrace the concept of well-being because they are beginning to see the impact of these problems. The effect on productivity, healthcare cost, etc. are palpable and burned out employees are most likely to change jobs, which has a direct impact on the business matrix.
We are at a moment where addiction to digital products and technology is increasing day by day, an inflection point where we need to sit and address this issue. We need to realize that it is important to set boundaries with technology and not let it rule our lives. We need to be more connected to the source of our own wisdom and strength: the faster this world changes, the more resilient we need to be. When we are stressed and burned out, we can do transactional things but creativity is strongly harmed.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: selling wellness
Another question that follows the advent of Thrive Global into a developing nation like India is – How do you sell wellness as a concept to those people who are not so well off? Similar to what Maslow once stated, higher order needs like spiritual wellbeing would only come into place once basic needs of food, security, etc. are provided.
This question is still unanswered. The only possible way to this is to develop an understanding that there is a constant stress of survival – at every level of this struggle of survival the more resilient one is the more effective one will be. There is a need to be creative and one won’t be able to do that if they’re very stressed out. This teaches us a valuable lesson in terms of how to consolidate different areas of wellbeing into one. If we start looking at mental and spiritual wellbeing as something to be taken care of later on, and not as something that can complement physical wellbeing, it will never be deemed important enough to tackle.

Take Micro-steps instead of grand gestures
To make big changes, Arianna encouraged everyone to focus on micro steps as opposed to grand gestures. “Take breaks to recharge, mediation, one night of adequate sleep. Don’t leave your jobs, your husbands or wives just yet.”

She offered concrete steps.
1. Pick a time in your day to switch off your phone and put it on charge away from you. You might fall off the wagon in five days, but don’t judge yourself.
2. Have time with your family, do deep thoughtful things, do not allow distractions, get thrive app and put your phones on thrive mode. Recognize that multitasking is an illusion and probably one of the most stressful things to do. ‘Be here now’ is the most powerful way to live.
3. Remember three things that you are grateful for every morning. Don’t miss a single day.
4. Set your intention for the day before you check your phone, your phone is everybody else’s agenda for you, what is your agenda for you?
5. Recognize the ancient truth that we all have peace, strength and wisdom in us

These micro steps help us break things down during our and make decisions more efficiently. Extending this to corporate life will help corporates understand the importance of investing in human capital. Healthier and happier people make better decisions and work more effectively. When the employees are happy, the healthcare costs reduce and efficiency increases and so does profit.

So where do we go from here?
We are moving rapidly towards technological advancements in augmented reality, but what Huffington proposes is a shift towards augmented humanity and hopes that we can incorporate Thrive’s message and move forward towards greater wellbeing, in India and then the world.

Originally published at

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