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Warmly, Jordan The Unplug Issue
Warmly, Jordan The Unplug Issue
Happy August!

It’s the time of year when we can give ourselves permission to slow down and recharge. So who better to explore with than my friend Arianna Huffington — self-care guru, thought-leader, political philosopher and author of “The Sleep Revolution” and “Thrive”? How can one person be so busy and yet so well-rested, so plugged-in and yet so able to unplug?

Read our conversation below to learn about her wide-ranging philosophy, who she thinks should be President and why she says exhaustion might explain the 2016 election. Plus all things unplugged that I’m currently obsessed with!

So unplug (but not before finishing this email — I know, the irony)! And if a friend forwarded this to you, subscribe here here so we can stay in touch.

Warmly, Jordan Warmly, Jordan
Obsessed Obsessed
Obsessed Obsessed
1
Screen Saver
Dear iPhone: Save me from myself! I’ve searched the app store countless times over the years looking for help putting this thing down (yes, I see the irony there.) Leave it to the epic pairing of Arianna and Apple to answer my prayers. The new operating system coming out in September will include this Screen Time dashboard to tell us how much time we spend on social media, games, email, etc, and even how many times we pick up our phone throughout the day. Anything you put a number to, you will focus on and then obsess over (I’m looking at you, Instagram likes). So I have high hopes that this will help me, and hopefully you, spend our time how we want, rather than how we have been programmed.
2
PhoneSoap
Speaking of phones, the best sleep advice Arianna ever gave me was to leave my phone outside my bedroom when I go to sleep. Studies have shown that staring at that screen before bed prevents restorative sleep and that checking your phone when you wake up in the middle of the night is a sure way to not get back to sleep (my own personal study confirms that one!) In the beginning, it was hard to force myself to leave the phone outside, until PhoneSoap, which claims to use UV light to kill germs and bacteria that collect on the phone, while also charging it. I have no idea if it actually works, but I’m just this side of germophobic enough to leave it there just in case.
3
Sleep
I’m up for trying just about any program, plan or potion that’s supposed to make me feel/look/be better, but the best is one we can all get wherever we are... sleep. Seriously, when I don’t get enough sleep, I can feel it in my head (a dull headache throughout the day), I can feel it in my heart (my resilience and ability to move past little annoyances plummets), and I can feel it right across my face (my skin is better than any sleep tracking app on the market). My goal is 8 hours, but I’ll take 7.
4
Lanserhof
Lanserhof changed my life. A few months before Levi was born, I knew I needed to do something drastic because I was literally falling asleep by 4:30pm every afternoon. A friend recommended Lanserhof and, as if in search of the holy grail, I darted to Tegernsee, Germany for answers. It’s a medical spa based on Dr. F.X. Mayr’s theory from the turn of the century that everything happening in our bodies is a result of our digestive health or lack thereof. Their cure is a detox process of healing the digestive system and retraining us how to eat properly. This changed my body and my mind and still does every day. A few tips that I still try to follow:

  No drinking liquids during meals, or 15 minutes before or after. Liquids dilute the stomach enzymes that are digesting food.

  No raw vegetables at dinner. Our digestion slows throughout the day, and uncooked veggies are hard to digest, so when we think we are helping ourselves by having a light salad for dinner, we are so not!

  Chew every bite at least 15 times. Digestion starts in our mouths.

Arianna and Jordan
Arianna and Jordan
In Conversation With
Arianna Huffington
As I was leaving Arianna’s office after this conversation, I shared with her some challenges I was experiencing in my work and how I was organizing them. Her immediate response: “Let’s have a retreat and we’ll figure it out.” THAT is Arianna Huffington. The wisdom, experience and network she has collected over an extraordinary career is most valuable to her when she is using it to help others thrive. And now she has turned that passion into a business that is changing the world, one day — and of course one night’s sleep — at a time. Come dig in with us...

Jordan Roth  So, of course, we’re exploring theatre and the way that the foundations of theatre are in all areas of our world: politics, fashion, media and beyond. You come from the birthplace of theatre, so I feel like you are uniquely qualified to discuss this! We learn pathos and catharsis from ancient Greek drama, and it seems to me that we’re getting a lot of our pathos and catharsis online these days. You’ve talked about the culture of outrage. I wonder if all this outrage is us fulfilling a very human desire to feel big emotions. And instead of what we get in the theatre, feeling big emotions with these heightened fictionalized representations, we are feeling these big emotions about real — often heightened and sometimes “fictional” — but real people playing out in the news cycle and in social media. So I wonder, is there an upside to this? Are we actually fulfilling some kind of a legitimate human need by all of the outrage and emotions we are experiencing in real time?

Arianna Huffington  I believe that the outrage is obviously real, and in most instances completely legitimate, as when it’s addressed, for example, at children being separated from their parents at the border. I mean it’s just totally outrageous. And if you didn’t feel outraged there would be a problem with you. But why I am concerned about this constant state of outrage that so many of my friends are in, is that it actually makes us less effective. I believe that any resistance, and we are in a moment of resistance, has to be about effectiveness and not about venting.


Quote
Any resistance, and we are in a moment of resistance, has to be about effectiveness and not about venting.

—  Arianna Huffington


Jordan  Good. Very good distinction.

Arianna  I just want to see some results. I don’t want to just vent and feel righteous and feel superior because I’m feeling this outrage. Sometimes I have friends texting each other, expressing outrage and feeling proud of how outraged they are without doing anything about it — and then feeling depleted by the end of the day. That’s the other thing.

Jordan  Depleted by the expression of outrage?

Arianna  Yes, the constant expression of outrage without a funnel where you can actually channel it is depleting. It’s exhausting. It actually means that the other side wins. I don’t know if you remember after the 9/11 attacks, there was this meme going around saying that if you don’t go out shopping, the terrorists win; when you don’t go to the game, the terrorists win... So, if you’re just perpetually outraged, and you are depleted and exhausted the forces undermining America win.

Jordan  Fascinating.

Arianna  That fits into, as you know, my whole philosophy of how to be in the eye of the hurricane. Have you ever seen the eye of the hurricane? It’s completely peaceful. There’s a whole hurricane going around and you’re in the eye of it and therefore you are strong, serene, at peace. You are experiencing the hurricane. It’s not that you are oblivious, but from the eye of the hurricane you can deal with a hurricane much more powerfully. I mean, there was this amazing moment when LeBron James was so angry and frustrated that he punched the blackboard and really badly hurt his hand, which affected how he played in all the other games. Isn’t this an amazing metaphor for everything we’re talking about? When you are so outraged, upset, angry, that you actually end up hurting yourself in a way that impacts your game, whatever your game is, the very thing that upset and outraged you wins.

Lebron James
Lebron James post blackboard. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Jordan  Right! So, the level of emotion is right. It’s the direction of it.

Arianna  Right. Let me give you another example. I love Samantha Bee. What she said on the show was absolutely right. Absolutely right. About the immigrant children being separated from their parents. But the word she used to describe Ivanka undermined her effectiveness.

Samantha Bee
The now infamous Samantha Bee comment. Screengrab courtesy of TBS Video

Jordan  Now how do you feel when that happens on the other side? Roseanne Barr.

Arianna  The thing that happened with Roseanne Barr is different because she actually made a direct racist comment which was part of a series of outrageous racist comments, so this was not like—

Jordan  So she was more revealing her true self and beliefs rather than, kind of—

Arianna  Rather than kind of losing it for a moment because of the absolutely legitimate level of outrage she was experiencing. Again, we need to keep repeating that. It’s not that the level of outrage is not legitimate. But what are we doing to ourselves when we’re living in a perpetual state of outrage and how are we undermining our own effectiveness?

Jordan   For me, that’s where “The Birds and the B.S.” came from because I just didn’t feel like sending a tweet every hour saying, “What he just said is crazy.” And I love that people are doing it because the point at which we stop saying “what he just said is crazy,” is the point at which it becomes not crazy. But it did feel like let me take that outrage, let me take that emotion, let me mix it with some creativity and let me send it a little farther.

Watch the latest episode of The Birds and The BS: With all the BS coming out of DC, what makes a true Bullsh*t Artist? Mandy Patinkin is putting it together... into a song! Video via facebook.com

Arianna  Yes. And I love that because it’s not about not saying it. It’s about whether it’s actually consuming us. Is it affecting how we live our lives and what we do?

Jordan  Right. And that gets me to the theatre of politics. There’s always been a bit of show business in politics, but now it feels like we’re through the looking glass, as we’ve gone from actors to reality stars. We can unpack the whole “reality” in this, but I’m curious if you feel like these performative aspects of politics are helpful in some way? Are they getting us somewhere in terms of the ritual of theatre? We play out these stories over and over again. We’re now sort of doing that in our political landscape. Is there an upside here or is it tearing it all down?

Arianna  I think human beings long for theatre and ritual. And, so, if good people don’t use the performative aspect of politics, bad people will. And we see that again and again.


Quote
If good people don’t use the performative aspect of politics, bad people will.

—  Arianna Huffington


Jordan  Arianna Huffington! Hashtag truth!

Arianna  Hitler is, of course, the ultimate example of performative politics. But on the other side, we also have good examples.

Jordan  Give us some good examples.

Arianna  When JFK stood within walking distance of the Berlin Wall and said Ich bin ein Berliner (“I’m a Berliner”), I still — look — I get goosebumps. If you just look at that moment, that is performative politics. He obviously is not a Berliner [laughs] but it was the power of rhetoric and the moment and the crowd... The Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” speech is performative politics too. A lot of the great moments of rhetoric are performative politics. And I think that’s partly what Trump tapped into because there was no performative politics on the other side.

JFK in Berlin
JFK in Berlin. “Ich bin ein Berliner.” Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

If you haven’t watched this in the last week, do yourself a favor. Photo by Francis Miller/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images. Video via youtube.com

Jordan  Right! So, that’s actually an interesting thing because I think when we talk about that campaign and we talk about Hillary as a candidate, that’s a complaint now. We think that wasn’t a strength of hers. And we bemoan that that was an issue because she was the most qualified candidate in the history of ever, and that turned out to not be enough.

Arianna  Yes.

Jordan  But you are pointing us to the idea that it is actually a legitimate additional piece we need from our candidates who will then become our leaders. We need them to be able to harness the theatrical, harness those moments and take us somewhere.

Arianna  If we want to win. [laughs] I remember, shortly before she died, having dinner with Nora Ephron, and she said “Politics is about casting.”

Jordan  Mmm— Nora!

Nora Ephron and Arianna Huffington
Arianna with the late Nora Ephron. I so wish I could hear her take on our world right now. Photo by Charles Eshelman/Getty Images

Arianna  And, literally, she was going around asking who Democrats should nominate, who Democrats should cast.

Jordan  And she wasn’t saying this in a cynical way.

Arianna  No, she was saying it in a factual way. Not like, I’m for it or against it. It’s a fact. So she thought Democrats should cast Tom Hanks, I remember.

Jordan  So this is not the first time I’ve heard this notion of Tom Hanks as president. What do you think?

Arianna  I think he would be fantastic, because you’re not casting an empty shell, you see? I think that would be cynical if you just cast an empty shell, that’s—

Jordan  That’s Dave. Remember that movie?

Arianna  Exactly. Dave. Who doesn’t stand for anything, to whom you just feed lines. But if you cast somebody who actually is smart and committed and has the right values and principles and has the performative theatre aspect to boot that can capture people’s imagination...

Fun fact: In high school, I was a casting intern on DAVE. Video via youtube.com

Jordan  Okay. So cast our next candidate.

Arianna  Tom Hanks.

Jordan  Tom Hanks still?

Arianna  Yes.

Jordan  Okay, let’s do it.

Arianna  And he has a great wife too. Greek!

Jordan  Rita Wilson! Greek! We’re back to our pathos and our catharsis!

Arianna  Exactly!

Nora Ephron and Arianna Huffington
Tom Hanks for President? Who’s in? Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Jordan  I love it. I love it. I love it. So this idea of casting our candidates brings me to good and evil. That distinction is something that I think we all have in politics: everybody on the other side, whatever side you’re on, is evil, and everybody on your side is good. But in the theatre, of course, if that were true, it would be a bad play. It would be a play with no nuance and no depth. So as a citizenry, are we denying ourselves something or are we sort of disintegrating the body politic by making everybody good or evil and not looking for or wanting that nuance?

Arianna  I think it’s not just a nuance. It’s the truth that we’re all a mixture. The line between good and evil runs through every man’s heart, somebody said. It wasn’t my line, but it’s a good line.

Jordan  It’s your line now.

Arianna  I think it was Solzhenitsyn. We’ll google it after. But the point is that we are all a mixture and if we don’t acknowledge our shadow side, we’re in trouble.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
I googled it and it was indeed Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: “The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” Photo by Bettmann

Jordan  But are we able to do that for other people also?

Arianna  I think that is something that you need to constantly be trying to do, and this doesn’t mean that we are blind to the dangers of what people on the other side, whatever that other side is, may be doing. But in order to be able to communicate, we need to see what rays of sunshine there are.

Jordan  I do think there is also a question around, particularly now as we can take one thing somebody says or one thing somebody does and paint the entirety of them with that—

Arianna  Well that’s incredibly troubling. I think it’s troubling first of all because none of us wants to be judged by the worst thing we’ve ever done or said. And also because, for me, ultimately, life’s journey is about redemption and being able to constantly learn and course correct and redeem ourselves. And, I mean, theatre and great fiction are all about redemption.

Jordan  It’s the theatrical narrative.

Arianna  Yes. That’s the theatrical narrative. I mean, going back to the prodigal son - why is the father making such a big deal about the prodigal son returning when the good son had been there all along? I mean, that’s such a big theme.


Quote
None of us wants to be judged by the worst thing we’ve ever done or said.

—  Arianna Huffington


Jordan  But we do seem to love a redemption story. Though it feels like now we’re meeting the shadows of some people who may not experience a redemption narrative. I mean, I don’t know that we will see Harvey Weinstein’s redemption as the end of this story, but what do you think?

Arianna  Maybe not. I think redemption has to start with something very profound happening.

Jordan  As a catalyst.

Arianna  Yes. I mean there’s a lot of fake redemption that’s been going on, especially in politics. You know, the politician who is caught and then goes to a rehab center...

Jordan  We know that play!

Arianna  ... And meets with a preacher and issues an apology. But there are real redemptions. And if we don’t allow people to really have this profound understanding of what they did or said and be able to change after they seek forgiveness, we are just really denying ourselves, also, the opportunity to make mistakes and change.


Quote
Life’s journey is about redemption and being able to constantly learn and course correct and redeem ourselves.

—  Arianna Huffington


Jordan  Another way in which we can punch the blackboard.

Arianna  Yes.

Jordan  I’m interested in the idea of the ways that we — possibly unknowingly — hurt ourselves. And I think about that a lot when I try to understand voters, and the many ways in which people have voted against themselves. Sometimes we think that’s a very laudable quality of selflessness, but that doesn’t seem to be what has happened here. How do we make sense of that?

Arianna  Well, I think for me there are two things here. One is the bigger question of us hurting ourselves, which I’m fascinated by. It’s like, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.” And again, seeing in so much drama, how the hero or the heroine do something that hurts them. In a more prosaic way, I’m kind of fascinated by that because I have seen the connection between being burned out and sleep deprived, and making stupid mistakes. We’ve seen that again throughout political history. You know, Bill Clinton famously said that that every mistake he made, he made when he was tired.

Jordan  Really? That should be on the wall here somewhere.

[laughter]

Arianna  He did not specify what mistakes. But we can all identify —

Jordan  Insert your own imagination.

Arianna  I mean, I definitely know that every hiring mistake I made, and these are some of the biggest mistakes you can make as a businessperson, I made when I was tired and I wanted to cross something off my to-do list, so I was ignoring the red flags. Being overreactive, not being as empathetic — all these things are consequences of not taking care of ourselves, or forgetting to refuel. So that’s kind of the everyday aspect. What you’re talking about is voters voting against their own self-interest, voting for somebody who’s going to give big tax cuts to the rich...

Jordan  Take away healthcare...

Arianna  Take away health care. I mean, it just shows again and again how human beings are not always operating in a rational way. There is a lot of fear that drives decisions, and that’s partly what’s happened.

Jordan  I also wonder, though, if those two things do connect. Is there a, not a literal tiredness but a figurative tiredness, a weariness — and we can grapple with what it is — that made such a large collective of our country so weary...

Thich Nhat Hanh
I just finished reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s ”Taming the Tiger Within.” In addition to the inspiring words, each phrase is on its own page, allowing us the time to fully digest. Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images

Arianna  Thich Nhat Hanh, you know, the Buddhist monk, said that “it has never been easier to run away from ourselves.” So, when people are disconnected from themselves, it’s so much easier to peddle them falsehoods. It’s so much easier to operate from fear and hopelessness. I wrote a piece about Anthony Bourdain’s suicide because the series that he did was called “Parts Unknown,” and as I was thinking over the weekend about it. I thought that we need a new series that’s called “Parts Unknown,” but it’s about parts unknown inside ourselves.

Jordan  Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Arianna  Because that’s, for me, the ultimate exploration. There’s such a fascination about going to Mars and exploring outer space and I’m completely uninterested in that.

Jordan  Couldn’t agree more.

Bourdain
I now see so much sadness and meaning in this picture that I have seen so many times before. Photo by David Scott Holloway/Courtesy of CNN. Interview via youtube.com

Arianna  But I’m fascinated by exploring inner space. And so imagine if we... maybe we should do that. You, as the ultimate producer, should do that. Imagine being able to put the amount of creativity and talent and passion that’s going into exploring food, remote parts of the world, clothes and all those things — which are amazing and capture our imagination — but what if one percent of that creativity and energy was going to exploring parts unknown inside ourselves? Not in a preachy, didactic way, but in a way that captures our imagination the way Anthony Bourdain captured our imagination around food and foreign countries and traveling.

Jordan  I don’t want to hit the theme too hard on the head, but that’s the theatre. That is the project of the theatre.

Arianna  Yes, I mean “Frozen” — which I saw on Saturday.

Jordan  The timing is perfect.

Arianna  Yes. It’s so much about parts unknown.

Jordan  Yes, completely.

Arianna  You know, if we don’t explore these parts unknown within ourselves, if we don’t deal with them, if we don’t redeem them, then we end up destroying ourselves and our surroundings.

Arianna is so right — “Frozen” is an epic journey into the parts unknown within ourselves. Video via youtube.com

Jordan   It’s an epic journey. Absolutely right. Absolutely right. The difference between a story that is stage worthy and a story that is not — and I don’t even necessarily just mean stage worthy, because it could be a film, it could be a TV series — but a story that can be dramatized, is one that illuminates inner space, right? To just tell a story that is “This happened and then that happened and that happened and that happened...” That doesn’t become art, that becomes lunch conversation, right? But those that rise to the level of art do so because the telling of this plot illuminates something about us.

Arianna  Yes.

Jordan  Individually and collectively.

Arianna  And we leave the theatre transformed.

Jordan  If it’s good.

Arianna  For me, there’s nothing like the theatre. When I lived in London in my twenties, I dated Bernard Levin, who was, among other things, a theatre critic. So he and I would go to the theatre literally every night and, on Saturdays, see two or three plays off off off West End! I don’t think I saw a single movie during that period because we were only going to the theatre and the opera, which is also incredibly theatrical.

Huffington with Bernard Levin
Arianna giving us 70’s chic with Bernard Levin. Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images


Jordan  Heightened.

Arianna  Heightened theatre. And there’s nothing for me, nothing like the moment when the lights go down.

Jordan  It’s my favorite.

Arianna  Its magic.

Jordan  Because everything’s possible.

Arianna  We have to do something, or rather you have to do something, about the fact that despite all the warnings about turning off cell phones at the theatre, I was literally sitting next to someone at the Springsteen show who took out his phone and was FaceTiming.

Jordan  Really?

Arianna  Yes.

Jordan   FaceTiming to share the show?

Arianna  Yes, FaceTiming someone to share the show.

Phones at concert
The new concert non-experience. Photo by Jim Dyson/Redferns via Getty Images

Jordan  So this actually takes us to an interesting place. A) Horrifying! Sorry. Come back.

Arianna  I actually did not hit him.

Jordan  But that’s only because you were well rested.

Arianna  I did not punch the blackboard.

Jordan  Exactly right. We’d have read about it in Page Six.

Arianna  And thanks to you, I had amazing seats right in the middle, like third row or something. So it’s not like he was somewhere in the back and—

Jordan  And just not disrupting the whole thing...

Arianna  Yeah.

Jordan  So here’s what we find at “Springsteen” and other shows: how we now process what we experience is by taking pictures and videos of it. And we can grapple with whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it’s a thing.

Arianna  It’s a bad thing.

Jordan  Fair. Tell me why.

Arianna  It’s a bad thing because we are photographing or videotaping and not experiencing. I’m not against social media, as you know. I’m doing it all.

Jordan  Queen of!

Arianna  And you’re doing it all. The difference is allowing ourselves to experience. I mean, concerts are the worst. Experiencing a concert through your little camera, through your phone camera, and taking videos, 99.9% of which I bet are never seen again.

Jordan  Never seen again. But that’s so interesting. It’s the act of the taking it that makes us feel as though we are experiencing it, but in fact it is removing ourselves from it. Richie’s favorite story about this is when the Pope was in town and we saw all of these people who’d been waiting for the Pope, waiting for the Pope, waiting for the Pope... And the Pope finally arrives and they turn their back to the Pope so they can take a picture of themselves with the Pope. Now, on the one hand, I get it. That picture is documenting this moment that you will then keep forever and share with your children and their children. “I was in the same space as the Pope.” However, there is something perverse about “I’m going to turn my back on the Pope so that I can have the evidence rather than the experience.”

Selfies with the Pope
Photographing but not seeing. Photo by Rodrigo Buendia/AFP/Getty Images

Arianna  Yes. And the evidence is ultimately about other people.

Jordan  Yes!

Arianna  It’s not about you. It’s “I want the world to know that I was here with the Pope” or with Beyoncé or whoever.

Jordan  Yes, my least favorite posts on social media are where the copy is, “Had a great time doing...” or “Had a great time with...” which really just translates to: “I want you to know that I was with...” But I also recognize it. I recognize its value. I do it. I mean, I word it differently, but I want you to know that. And that too, I think, takes us to a sense of the performative. Social media is a stage, with an audience and a narrative, and in many cases costumes and lights and sets.

Arianna  And that’s great. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with all of that unless it takes over your life. The distinction between what’s in the foreground of your life and what’s in the background is key. So, absolutely—take a picture. Take a beautiful picture. Use filters! Whatever you want to do. But if you then check every five minutes to see how many likes you’ve gotten, or if you get upset because you didn’t get many likes, that’s a problem.


Quote
Social media is a stage, with an audience and a narrative, and in many cases costumes and lights and sets.

—  Jordan Roth

Jordan  So what do we do about that? Because I’m not gonna lie, I suffer from that problem.

Arianna  Acknowledging it is the first thing.

Jordan  Good! Check. [laughter]

Arianna  Check. And second thing is kind of laughing about it.

Jordan  [laughing] Good. Just did that.

Arianna  So you’re check, check. It’s, like, fine. I mean we’re all works in progress.

Jordan  Truth. Simply starting the second act.

Arianna  Yeah. It’s like, so what? No problem. I mean, the fact that you’re laughing about it means you’re not actually consumed by it. You are not depressed if something doesn’t get a lot of likes. You would rather it did...

Jordan  Yes.

Arianna  But that’s different than...

Jordan  But there is a sense in which, you know, a “like” is an affirmation.

Arianna  But it’s an empty calorie affirmation.

Jordan  It is the Sweet & Low of affirmation.

Arianna   It takes somebody literally less than a second to like a photo, right? It’s not like any major affirmation.

Jordan  I agree, but on a more fundamental level, we do all want to be seen. And there is a way in which social — the promise of social, which is not to say the fulfillment of social — but the promise of social is that you will be seen, which is a very real human desire.


Quote
The promise of social, which is not to say the fulfillment of social — but the promise of social is that you will be seen.

—  Jordan Roth


Arianna  But what part of you is going to be seen.

Jordan  Okay! The performative part.

Arianna  Yes. Because relationships that matter, that are meaningful to us, are the ones where we are seen in all of our dimensions. Where we can be vulnerable. Where we can show our less-pretty side and still be loved. These are the most valuable relationships. So in this sort of continuum of relationships, being seen when you are in full makeup and regalia is fine, but it’s not ultimately fulfilling. And that’s why we have this incredible explosion of depression and anxiety and suicides — especially among teenagers — connected to social media consumption. We now have the data that shows that less empathy and more mental health problems are caused by the more time you spend on social media. That’s amazing data that we cannot ignore.

Jordan  Do you take yourself to be in that kind of “whole” relationship with your followers or do you take that stage to be one in which you are presenting your performative self?

Arianna  No, my main relationship with my followers is publishing inspirational quotes and facts and things that can help us lead a fuller life. That’s kind of the main thing I do. Everybody has a main thing they do on social media. I also publish a few pictures of me doing things, but it’s more like, “And that’s what I did,” rather than, “Here’s me in my full glory.” I mean, I was at Greycroft in East Hampton speaking, but my post isn’t performative. It’s more like —

Arianna’s Instagram from Greycroft. Photo via @ariannahuff.

Jordan  It’s more travel log.

Arianna  It’s more like a travel log! I was in Winnipeg, Canada yesterday, too, and they have the tallest Premier — he’s 6’8”. So publishing a picture with him, it’s fun.

Jordan  That’s good casting.

Arianna  It’s good casting. And a very great guy too.

Jordan  Well played, Canadians.

Arianna  And his wife is 6’ 3”. I have a picture between them and I look tiny, and I’m 5’ 10”! [laughter] So it’s more like, exactly, a travel log. But it’s most about... can I help people a tiny bit on this day?

Jordan  So it's not so much about revealing self or revealing authentic self for you.

From Arianna’s Instagram: “I’m not short, it’s just that I only spent time with 6'8" tall men this week... on Tuesday with the Premier of Manitoba Brian Pallister at the University of #Manitoba for the #IDEA2018 gala. And on Wednesday with Dane Holmes the Head of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs in my office.” Photo via @ariannahuff.

Arianna  I think the quotes that I publish are very real and they’ve been very important to me. They are things I live by, like this pillow here.

Jordan  So we had a whole narrative about this pillow. They were saying that a lot of people walk in here and think that’s you on Mount Rushmore. And I said that...

Arianna  Oh, that pillow. No, I meant this pillow...

Jordan  Oh, “Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor.” Well, yeah.

Arianna  The other pillow was just sent to us from “Veep.”

Jordan  Well, it’s hilarious.

Arianna  Well you know who it is.

Jordan  Of course! it’s Julia Louis Dreyfus. But I think it’s so interesting—

Arianna  That people thought it was me?

Jordan  Yes, because it speaks to that fact that we’ll take 50% of the information and then assume the other 50%.

Arianna  And then say that Arianna put herself on Mount Rushmore.

Jordan  Or somebody did as a gift. But you know, you come in, you’re in your office, it says your name, and you can see that it’s not who we would expect as the fourth head. But then we go “it must be you...” but we haven’t even looked.

Arianna  Great point.

Jordan  “Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor.” Do you?

Selfies with the Pope
Pillow wisdom in Arianna’s office. Photo courtesy of Arianna Huffington

Arianna  I don’t do anything perfectly. I totally see myself as a work in progress. But I do these things more and more, so that gives me a lot of satisfaction. I definitely started life as the most self-judgmental person you would know. We’re talking about that obnoxious roommate living in my head. I had dozens of them. So now it’s just incredibly satisfying to realize that this obnoxious roommate only makes guest appearances. I remember, I was running late for an interview and I was in the car going uptown and I knew that this particular host would be really upset. And so that inner dialogue started: “You’re always late. Why can’t you start on time? Why are you doing this? Why are you creating this?” And it was this kind of bitchy voice going on and on, and I sat up and I said, “Wow, that voice is making a guest appearance!” Because it was not familiar to me anymore the way it used to be, like that constant soundtrack of my life. So I love seeing that progress. And “living life as if everything was rigged in your favor” is basically that, in the moment when something goes wrong or something goes against what you want, being able to acknowledge the lesson, but also take it in stride and recognize that there’s something here that you may not yet see. It could be just the lesson that’s in your favor or it could be something else behind the door.


Quote
Religion can make us do our best and also make us do our worst.

—  Jordan Roth


Jordan  What was that first step that got you to there? That made you start to combat those voices.

Arianna  Going to India when I was 18. I went to Shantiniketan University founded by Rabindranath Tagore outside Calcutta and studied comparative religion, and it was amazing because I then began to see that inner — you can use the word spiritual or whatever you want to use — that inner journey of our lives as being incredibly important to me. That there’s got to be all the other stuff — the work, the children... but that inner journey became a through-line.

Jordan  Isn’t it interesting how religion can make us do our best and also make us do our worst?

Arianna  Yes.

Jordan  You talk about that kind of spiritual journey that has guided your life and then actually impacted millions of other people, because part of your journey has been sharing that information. But then at the same time, for many people, religion can be the thing that pits them against themselves quite deeply. And also is the reason almost every war was fought.

Arianna  But the whole point of actually studying comparative religion is to see the underlying essence and how similar all religions are in their essence. So it’s not that my religion is better than your religion. It’s about talking about the Bhagavad Gita in India or the Tao in China, or the Kabbalah, or the Stoic philosophers, and seeing that there is that continuum.

Jordan  That’s an extraordinary insight. I think we could put that to politics as well, right? It’s not your way, my way, or their way. It’s about the fundamental way. Where are we trying to get to as a collective? And can we get there?
Thank you, my love. I couldn’t love you more.

Arianna  I love you. I love this. This was so great. I love your journey.

Jordan  It’s a journey. It is a journey. Sometimes it’s a hero’s journey. Sometimes it’s not.

Arianna  Like all of us.

Arianna Huffington is the Founder & CEO of Thrive Global. Her most recent book is “The Sleep Revolution.
PS
Even titans of industry sometimes need a little tough love. Since we sat down together, Arianna wrote this open letter to one of America’s best-known entrepreneurs, Elon Musk. And we can all learn from it.
PS
“Man is a genius when he is dreaming.”
— Akira Kurosawa