Greetings from London. No, I'm not here to drop off a Royal Onesie, though I have offered to take George so Kate can catch a few hours of sleep. I'm actually here for The Huffington Post UK's first-ever women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money and Power." The focus of the conference is to discuss a more sustainable definition of success, one that includes well-being, wisdom, and our ability to wonder and to give back.
This is the first international edition of our Third Metric conference; the inaugural event was held in New York in June. The motivation for these events is that it has become increasingly clear that the current model, in which success is equated with overwork, burnout, sleep deprivation and never seeing your family, isn't working. It's not working for women. It's not working for men. It's not working for companies, for any societies in which it's dominant or for the planet.
Why are we taking the conversation international? Because, while creation of the faulty definition of success definitely had significant help from the U.S., it's clear this is now a global phenomenon.
As for where we are for this conference, it has been said that the U.S. and the U.K. are "two nations divided by a common language." And, one could add, a common problem of stress and burnout. Contrary to the stereotype that the British respond to pressure with withering cynicism, a stiff upper lip or an invitation to have some tea and forget about it, stress is having the same effect here as it does back home. Stress and depression resulted in over 10 million lost workdays in the UK last year. In the same time period, stress was responsible for 40 percent of all work-related illnesses.
In fact, this epidemic of depression is a global phenomenon. According to the World Health Organization, over 350 million people around the world currently suffer from depression. In the U.S., prescriptions for antidepressants have gone up 400 percent since 1988. In the U.K., it's up 495 percent since 1991.
One of the panelists I met last year in Davos, and whose book "Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World" I gave to everyone who works at The Huffington Post, is Mark Williams, professor of clinical psychology at Oxford and ordained minister in the Church of England.
Meditation, Williams writes, can have profound effects on virtually every aspect of our health and well-being. It boosts the immune system, increases memory and physical stamina and decreases depression and anxiety.
It frees us from a very limited view of success that defines it in terms of just two metrics: money and power. What we can find when we step off the hamster wheel is, Williams writes, "the kind of happiness and peace that gets into your bones and promotes a deep-seated authentic love of life, seeping into everything you do and helping you to cope more skillfully with the worst that life throws at you."
Though some might not think of British leaders as the meditating sort, the practice has been embraced by some very high-profile politicians. Foreign Secretary William Hague told the Times he's been meditating for 30 years. And deputy prime minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said he's found the practice "extremely useful for dealing with the ordinary stresses of life."
Panelist Rich Pierson is the cofounder of Headspace, a meditation app billed as "the world's first gym membership for the mind." The app has attracted some unsolicited celebrity endorsers, including Emma Watson and Gwyneth Paltrow.
In an interview with The Huffington Post UK, Pierson, despite being a tech entrepreneur, says he is wary of the way we've allowed technology to completely dominate our lives. "I genuinely feel that we will look back in 10 years time at technology and it will be viewed in the same way we view cigarettes today, and people will say: 'What the hell were we doing?' It obviously has an important role to play in the modern world, but it's definitely out of balance."
And so, like Pierson, The Huffington Post plans on using technology to help us deal with all the forces, including technology, that can cause us to lose balance. Both our U.S. edition and those around the world will be making the idea of redefining success a big part of our editorial focus.
Europe, like the U.S., is facing major challenges that our political systems seem unable to deal with at the moment. The Third Metric and redefining success is not a substitute for the accountability and large-scale change that the citizens of both Europe and America deserve. But leaders who are more connected to their own wisdom will be more likely to make better decisions, which, of course, can make a world of difference in individual lives.
Our unsustainable definition of success is a global problem, and it's going to require a global response. I hope you'll join the conversation and tell us how you're redefining success in your own life and in your part of the world.
(Arianna Huffington is president and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Media Group. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.)