Arianna Huffington: The Delusion We’re All Suffering From

Arianna Huffington Talks about The Delusion We’re All Suffering From at The James Altucher Show

Episode 169

The coffee pot at my cubicle job always smelled of fresh piss. It was probably rotting from the bright lights and manhandling.

We all were.

Maybe if I slept more, I would’ve quit my job (the right way). I would’ve chosen myself sooner.

I’d leave the fog with clarity.

That’s what sleep can do for you.

“This moment is all we have, and my mother always used to say, ‘Don’t miss the moment.’”

“When you’re exhausted, you miss the moment because you are just living in some fog, either of the past or the future,” said Arianna Huffington, who recently published “The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time.”

In her latest book (and on my podcast), Arianna Huffington reveals the secret to being awake and living a “fully vital, fully present, fully joyful” life.

Listen now.

Or keep reading to find out the first step (and three tips I learned from Arianna about parenting, depression, stars and more).

a) transition

I used to brush my teeth next to my sister. I was just tall enough to see over the counter when she taught me to brush up and down. Then in circles, not side to side.

I liked spitting.

I think I was 13 when bedtime became “Go to sleep.”

There was no transition.

And now adults are sleep-deprived.

We have to recreate the ritual. You can dim the lights, take a shower, change into pajamas. Whatever.

Maybe try spitting.

“You have to decide what works for you,” she said, “but for somebody who is on their phone until the last minute answering texts and emails and then puts the phone on the nightstand and turns off the light, for that person—I’m sure there are many people listening to us now who are that person—start five minutes, 10 minutes before you’re going to turn off the light.”

That’s it. Just five minutes. That’s your 1% improvement. Just transition. And you can practice.

Arianna says how in the interview (skip to 33 minutes).

b) teach your kids that your love is unconditional

I was talking to a psychic. I took her picture. She laughed with her son. He’s bipolar. I don’t know if their relationship is good.

Good relationships are good up to a point. There’s a layer you cross. When you stop choosing yourself. And you give all the power away to the other person.

Enabling, uneven, sacrificial love. Or whatever issues you find.

Arianna had the greatest love of all. I’d be jealous if it didn’t seem perfect.

I like moonlit love. Half bright white, clear with craters. Half cast in shadows.

“I’m no longer a young woman,” Arianna said, “but I credit my mother for a lot of things.”

Her family lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Athens. They had no money.

“She always made us feel we could aim for the stars and if we fail she wouldn’t love us any less, and that failure, she used to say, is not the opposite of success but a stepping stone to success.”

I didn’t grow up laughing at my problems like the psychic and her son.

And no one said, “Shoot for the stars, James.”

I shot for money. Money that I’d use to buy hopelessness. Hopelessness I’d use to write. Writing I’d use to help people.

So from our discussion about “The Sleep Revolution,” I learned Arianna has lessons in love.

“A lot of it for me had to do with pursuing things I loved, things I wanted to learn about,” she said. “I’ve written 15 books, they’re all very different. They’re often about things that I’m exploring and then I’m sharing my discoveries with my readers.”

So, to my daughters, if you’re reading this, I love you. And I hope you pursue something you love today.

And if you fail, can we laugh together?

c) “Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor.”

She told me she felt lost at 23.

Her first book was an international bestseller. Her second book was rejected by 36 publishers.

“I was living in London at the time, and I remember walking down St. James Street rather depressed wondering if I was following the right profession,” she said.

Then the bank gave her a loan.

“What’d you do with the money?” I asked.

She sustained her life. It was risky.

“I stayed on the path of being a writer, which is what I did most of my life until I launched The Huffington Post.”

She could eat. And sleep.

But eventually, she collapsed.

“I’ve had so much experience in my life of things that seemed really dark that turned out to be the best thing that could happen.”

“Like what?”

She says the full story on my podcast (skip to 12 minutes).

I get eight hours of sleep everyday.

But I asked Arianna if it’s ok to split it up. Four and four.

“Why would you do that?” she asked. “It’s not optimal.”

“Any hour of your day when you feel tired is really an hour when you’re not living life to the fullest,” she said.

She’s right.

Maybe I haven’t left the fog after all.


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  • ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmmm

    that’s it I am going for a nap now before I start working on my app :) good point regarding sleep.

  • asg749d

    Understanding the benefits of sleeping soundly at night is wisdom.

  • Qsnoodle

    I know some internet stars (coaches etc) who are always ranting about “*uck sleep!” they are screaming, it’s all about the hustle and making 6 figures a month (if that’s what’s really happening).
    Why would you do that when you can invest your money and sleep while you are allowing your dollar to work for you if in fact you are making that much every month. Makes no sense.

  • Corey Plummer

    My therapist, while living in New York, told me once. “Corey, the most loving thing you can do for yourself is to get enough sleep.” I still have his message replay in my head. Most of the time though, I don’t heed his advice. I stay up late, with my phone in my hand watching Youtube, Facebook, Tinder, and other things I’m not happy to admit. Then I wake up, usually around 6am (such a great time to start my day in Journaling, Meditation, Walking, etc). But I always choose to close my eyes and the next thing I know is it’s 9:45am. And I get angry at myself, get more depressed, etc. Because I feel I have wasted a morning. But truth be told, I will probably create the same steps tonight, because without the “noise” I am faced with my insecurities.

  • Rama Prasad

    James, I really liked your trick of postponing the anxieties 12 hrs ahead. Long time back (8~10 years ago) someone taught me this trick. Couldn’t repeat it, So it was left out from memory. Thanks for reminding. will definitely use it from now on!

  • Lilly

    Thanks for sharing the benefits of sleep. Often it seems that working 12 plus hour days then also sacrificing sleep is what we should be doing in order to succeed, to “get ahead”. It’s counterintuitive that sleep is just as important. You’re right.

  • Idas Levato

    loved this interview. You did a great job and Arrianna is just so interesting and clever. Nice work, great service to many sleep deprived people.

  • Single change that has most dramatically impacted my life, up, down sideways: getting more sleep.

    Carl Kruse