By Vishnu Makhijani,
New Delhi : Greek-American journalist-entrepreneur Arianna Huffington raised many an eyebrow worldwide when she stepped down as editor-in-chief of the US web portal that bears her name to focus on a wellness start-up she says draws much from Indian traditions and practices.
“India has long held a special place in my heart, from the time I went to study comparative religion at Visva-Bharati University (Santiniketan). India faces many challenges with stress and burnout — employees in Mumbai work 64 hours per week on average, the most in the world, and 80 per cent of working professionals in India feel stressed at work — but it also has many of its own solutions,” Huffington told IANS in an email interview.
Because of her attraction to things Indian, she decided to open the first overseas operation of her start-up here.
“Its ancient wisdom and spiritual traditions, in addition to traditional Indian practices like yoga and meditation, have been validated by modern science and form the basis for many of Thrive Global’s tools and strategies,” Huffington said.
To this end, the start-up’s conducted workshops and master classes at companies in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru and will be launching a media platform in October.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Though that shouldn’t be too surprising, since so many of the principles that can help us lead a thriving life in today’s distracted digital age are actually grounded in the ancient wisdom that’s deeply rooted in India’s history and culture,” Huffington, who in 2009, was #12 in Forbes’s first-ever list of the Most Influential Women In Media, said.
She’s had a flourishing career in politics and journalism. What prompted her to change stride and launch Thrive Global?
“I’ve always been interested in the principles that are now the foundation of Thrive Global, but I didn’t always live them. For me, that process really began in 2007 when I collapsed from exhaustion and lack of sleep. Afterwards, as I went from doctor to doctor to find out if there was any underlying medical problem, I had a chance to ask myself a lot of questions about the kind of life I was living — like, was this the life I wanted? Is this really what success looks like?”
That prompted changes to the way she was living and working.
“I learned about the connection between well-being and productivity, and wrote two books — ‘Thrive’ and ‘The Sleep Revolution’ — on the topic. And as I went around the world speaking about them, I saw how deeply people want to change their lives. And the reaction was the same all over the world,” she said.
“There was this huge demand not just for change, but for support in making that change, for a focused and targeted response. So, I wanted to go beyond just speaking out and raising awareness — I felt the need to turn this passion into something real and tangible that would begin to help people change their daily lives and change the culture around them to support those changes. And so, I founded Thrive Global,” Huffington explained.
Expanding on the India connect, Marcus Ranney, who heads the company’s operations in this country, said India’s ancient wisdom and spiritual traditions “are now at the center of a global conversation” about what it means to live a good life.
“The truth and power of India’s centuries-old traditions are being increasingly and conclusively validated by modern science. What these studies show about the connection between well-being and performance is enough to convince even the most sceptical and secular societies to embrace the knowledge embedded in Indian culture for centuries: The power of meditation, yoga, contemplation and compassion to change our lives and our world,” he said in his email to IANS.
(Vishnu Makhijani can be contacted at email@example.com)