Arianna Huffington and the Killer App

Last week’s news that Arianna Huffington was leaving The Huffington Post stunned the publishing world, although I knew for a long time it was coming. Why? Because I’ve been following Arianna since the 90s, and I know that she re-invents herself as often as I do. And when I started doing a miniscule amount of research for this post, I realized I had missed a few reinventions that happened before I started following her.

She was born in Greece, but left there for the UK at age 16. She worked for the BBC. She appeared in a play. In the 70s she — if you can believe it — wrote a book against the Women’s Liberation movement called “The Female Woman.” She then went on to become perhaps the most liberated woman of my generation.

She left the love of her life because he didn’t want to have children, and in the 1980s wrote books about Maria Callas and Picasso. She married Michael Huffington, who was a conservative Republican, and became a conservative pundit, for which she even won an award (“Politically Incorrect”). That was the 90s.

But then she became a Democrat, and soon after that she founded the Huffington Post. I met her at a lunch in Phoenix one day, and she gave me a log-in. I admired her so much that, like many more important writers, I wrote for her without pay. I kept on doing it until she took the company public and sold it and none of the writers profited. Many rebelled, feeling used. I didn’t, but I didn’t feel it was the same place.

Along the way I am sure Arianna has learned some lessons. One of the most notable was about the value of sleep: she collapsed from exhaustion not too long ago. ┬áNow she’s 66, and she’s starting a new company called Thrive. She is once again re-inventing herself, using her core communication skills, to teach people what she has learned.

I get it. She’s accumulated wisdom on the way to where she is now. She wants to share it. There’s a part of your life where you feel it’s time to give back. That doesn’t have to be with money, or even volunteer time. It can simply be your wisdom, and you can do it in a discussion with your children.

And for those young people who think wisdom no longer exists in a society changing so rapidly, I leave you with this: certain things happy in every era. Love, marriage, heartbreak, illness, loss, death, financial struggles. When it comes to those, wisdom is the killer app.

 

How Happiness Can Be Your Choice

Happiness is a choice. I know, because I make it every morning. I wake up, and I am me. I’m 75. This is a fact.

But there are so many pieces of information about me besides those. Those pieces of information make up my “story.” and I can alter my story, for good or for ill.

Here’s one story I can tell myself. My eyes are dry, my body is stiff, my teeth are missing, implanted, or bad, my face is wrinkled, my smile is lop-sided, my breasts are flat, my stomach is not. I limp, or so they tell me. I trip and fall. I have debt. I will run out of money and starve. My children are all grown. I don’t make money like I used to. I’m not famous. I may outlive my money. Maybe there’s something wrong with me? Maybe this pain in my back won’t go away. This story is “true.”

Here’s another story. I am amazingly healthy. I’ve been self-supporting, as a serial entrepreneur and teacher, for over 50 years. I made some fortunate choices of how I eat

, sleep, and exercise many years ago that are paying off now. I am a member of a community that values my opinion. I have three amazing dogs that are all trained and loving. I can walk 4-5 miles a day, practice yoga, take Pilates classes, see the sunrise with a group of wonderful dog owners at a beautiful park 365 days a year, and spend part of the summer in London with my grandson. I have many friends all over the world. People envy me.

I can visit my daughter in Half Moon Bay and catch up with friends. I can indulge my passion for gadgets and technology. I can write. I can be a professor, because years ago I made a good choice to get a Ph.D. I have travelled all over the world talking to entrepreneurs. I’m considered an expert. This story is also “true.” I built both of those out of commonly available facts about me.

About twenty years ago, I chose to tell myself the second story, after too many years of telling myself the first. Telling myself the first sent me to the emergency room, suffering from anxiety, heartburn, and palpitations. Telling the second one makes me happy. I choose to be happy.

Making one’s self happy is within everyone’s control. It’s just a question of which constellation of details you select to form your story. After a while, your story becomes your reality. Try it. It’s not just b.s.; there’s neuroscience to prove that the mere act of smiling can make you happy.

Even if you don’t believe in the Secret, or yoga teachings, or positive mantras, you can still choose the details in your story. We all do it, except many of us do it unconsciously — we’re not aware that we’re building a story. That’s how those negative stories about ourselves get told, and re-told, until we see them as reality.

There is no reality, people, except the one we make for ourselves.

Easy Cooking Hack

FullSizeRender-3-672x372

Every day I make myself a pot of steamed vegetables. While it used to be safe to assume if I put something on the stove I would remember to turn it off, I no longer test myself to see if that’s true. Even young people are distracted by devices, computers, and other tasks, and the easiest way to preserve your ability to multitask is to rely on the Instapot.

I fill it with water, add the veggies and spices, or oatmeal or whatever, and I can leave the house without worrying. In fact, I use the time to walk one of my dogs separately — a tradition I call “Dog of the Day,” which gives one of the three special attention. When I come back, everything is finished and turned off.

Sharing the Wisdom of Aging

I’m a healthy, active 75-year-old woman, widowed for the past twenty years. Yesterday I was walking out of the cardiologist’s office after my routine checkup, and he said “why don’t you write a book about how you got this way” — meaning how I got to the numbers on my blood tests, the amount of exercise I do, and the ability to live a plant-based life over a long period of time.

I wasn’t sure I had the patience to write a book, but I damn well know how to blog, as I’ve been doing it since 1999, so here I go. Like aging, the blog will be a journey. Come with me, especially if you’re younger, because although you can make yourself healthier at any age, it’s best to start young.

How to Age Well and Stay Healthy