Neil Pasricha, author of The Book of (Even More) Awesome, explains how a simple project to drag him out of the dumps changed his life forever.
Q: Can you tell me about a few of your favourite awesome things?
A: Sure. Finally getting that little kernel of popcorn out of your teeth. When the cop driving behind you on the highway passes you as opposed to flicking his lights on. When you get home from work and the dog is really, really excited to see you. Sneaking cheaper candy or a can or pop into the movie theatre. And letting go of your gas pump perfectly, on a round number.
Q: How often do you come up with these things? Is it constant or do you have to work to find awesome things?
A: About two years ago, I was going through a pretty rough patch. I was in a marriage that was headed in the wrong direction and I had a really close friend who was battling major depression and ultimately committed suicide. I was under all of these dark clouds and I realized that I needed a way to focus on the positive. So I started a blog — 1000awesomethings.com — in order to count down, every day 1,000 awesome things in life. Since that day, June 20, 2008, I’ve been writing one awesome thing every weekday. Today, I’m on number 257: Eating a free sample of something you have no intention of buying.
Q: Can you tell me about the “3 As of Awesome,” which was the subject of a recent talk you gave?
A: My life has had a lot of ups and downs, and more recently I’ve taken a step back and asked what has helped me get through the tough periods. The answer is: Attitude, Awareness and Authenticity. Attitude is about choosing to look forward and move on. Awareness is about seeing the world like a three-year old and enjoying the small pleasures that we see every day — whether that’s waking up and realizing that it’s Saturday, or that moment on vacation when you lose track of what day of the week it is, or finally peeing after holding it forever. And Authenticity is just about being you and being cool with that; when you’re yourself, you put yourself into place and conversations and around people you really genuinely enjoy.
Q: Do you have a go-to mood lifter for when you’re feeling down?
A: The biggest trick I’ve learned is just writing down one awesome thing a day. In a lot of ways, I’m the same guy I was before I started this – I still work the same office job, live in the same apartment, have the same sink of dirty dishes, and still need to go to the gym more. But I’m happier. And I think that’s because every single night, before I go to bed, I make it a point to write down one awesome thing.
Q: Has this project changed your perspective on happiness?
A: I think that part of the way you can be happy is by noticing all of the small, simple pleasures around us. Whether it’s picking the fastest lane at the grocery store, when the person you’re meeting is even later than you are, or waking up to the smell of bacon, it is those small things that really enrich our lives. Taking time to notice them is one of the secrets to being happy.
What are the awesome things in your life? Share your thoughts here!