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Happiness Interview no. 3 – Neil Pasricha @ 1000 Awesome Things

 Note from Sasha: Here is my third happiness interview with Neil Pasricha who writes the blog 1000 Awesome Things and The Book of Awesome. I’m reading the book at the moment which was kindly sent to me by Neil’s publishers – its a great thing to read when you’re feeling annoyed or sad – it makes me laugh and there’s so much I “get”. Current favourites are #475 When your guests do the dishes even after you told them not to (thank you Pixie!), #706 The moment at a concert when the crowd figures out what song they’re playing and #758 Celebrating your pet’s birthday even though they have no idea what’s going on. There are also touching ones about picking yourself up and moving on, and unforgettable friends. It’s a great little pick-me-up and I’m looking forward to reading the rest. I wanted to know how Neil found the enthusiasm to find all these awesome things, and whether the writing itself makes him happy. Here’s what he had to say:

1. In your blog, you say you started the blog at a difficult time in your life, after your marriage had broken up and your best friend had taken his life. How were you able to find happiness or positivity at this time? Was there something or someone in particular that inspired you?

To be honest, I just sort of felt like I was wallowing in this world of doom and gloom and I was itching for a way to remind myself of simple pleasures like hitting a string of green lights, the smell of a bakery, and peeling an orange in one shot.

2. Your blog’s popularity spread quickly through word of mouth and your book of the blog was published in Spring this year.  Why do you think it became so popular? 

Well, the news is just so heavy. Polar ice caps are melting, earthquakes are hitting us, wars are going on around the world, and the economy is in a deep freeze. I think The Book of Awesome is just a tiny moment where we’re allowed to escape from all that and remember how good it feels to flip to the cold side of the pillow in the middle of the night.

Photo taken from here and reproduced on the 1000 Awesome Things blog

3. Where do you get your inspiration for your awesome things?  Do you have to remind yourself to look for these things in everyday life and if so, how?

I’m definitely no genius! I’m just a guy dumb enough to spend my free time writing about all the things that make us smile. I think we all love wearing warm underwear from out of the dryer, sleeping in new bedsheets, and fixing electronics by smacking them. They’re just there, they’re just around us, they’re just little moments that end up piling together and adding up into our lives.

4. Your blog is very upbeat and very funny. Are you generally a happy or positive person?  If so, does this come naturally or did you have to practice at it?

Just like everybody else, I definitely have good days and bad days and good months and bad months. I don’t think of myself as an optimist, but I definitely think focusing on simple pleasures like getting extra time on a parking meter or tripping and realizing no one saw you [note from Sasha – that one about tripping made me laugh] has helped give me lots of smiles.

Photo taken from  here  and reproduced on the 1000 Awesome Things blog

5. Do you find the process of writing, and sharing your thoughts with a wider audience, is a therapy in itself? Do you find that you can feel sad but still write in a positive way (I do!)?

I guess in many ways, yes! I started 1000awesomethings.com as a public website counting down because I thought those two things would help pressure me to keep at it, just the same way people ask others to make them go to the gym. If I’m sad, sometimes the writing is more challenging or sometimes I may just write a couple sentences.

6. What would you say to someone who is considering launching a blog, or setting up their own project like yours?

Do it! Have fun, follow your heart, and do what you love. The Internet is an amazing thing… for very little money we get to meet, interact, share, and learn from people all over the world. We get to fall into Wikipedia rabbit holes, chat with friends, send emails to our moms, and start up websites where we can do anything we want, anytime we want. It’s an awesome time to be alive.

Thank you so much for the chat! I hope you have a very awesome day!

The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha is published by Hardie Grant Books, price £8.99, available now.

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1000 Awesome Things

Today I have mostly been inspired by the blog 1000 Awesome Things which pretty much does what it says on the tin (I’m hoping to do an interview with the American author and to review his Book of Awesome soon).

Some days the universe seems determined to make you miserable or ignore you completely; but on other days, someone, somewhere, seems to be smiling down at you.  Today I felt the universe had a little soft spot for me and it reminded me immediately of the blog and the fact that this was a pretty awesome thing. As always, I thought I’d share:

  1. Someone called me about a letter of complaint I wrote months ago and had completely forgotten about (yes I’m a woman who writes letters of complaint, I know I know, but it works – I recently got free cinema tickets from complaining that an Edinburgh cinema’s toilets smelled of pee). They offered me a full refund and apology, were really very nice and surprised me totally.
  2. I called the council about my council tax and they said I was in credit and offered me a refund. Seriously, what goes on?
  3. I met a very good friend for a lovely lunch and realised that I have not one but TWO brilliant friends who work near my work and who are perfectly within the weekday coffee/lunch/apres work drinkie zone.
  4. My plan for going to South America this winter appears to be coming together and it looks like it will be soon, involve a lovely friend, lots of Malbec and steak and possible hops, skips and jumps to various beaches. Exciting stuff.

Yes this is only 4 awesome things rather than 1000, but its a start (and I’m British, we’re less of a fist-pumping-awesome nation). I think I’m going to try this every day – I’m getting an email a day from 1000 Awesome Things so I hope it inspires me on my way home on the tube to think of an awesome thing that happened that day…