Tag Archives: Happiness interview

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.


Happiness Interview no. 2 – Tom @ Tired of London Tired of Life

Note from Sasha:  I’m interviewing Londoners who I find upbeat and inspiring to find out what makes them happy.  Today its the turn of Tom who writes Tired of London Tired of Life where he does a new thing in London every day.  I love the “make the most of London” aspect and I wanted to ask Tom what inspires him  and how he has time to do it all!  See more happiness interviews hereAll photos taken with kind permission from Tom’s flickr page 
1. What made you start doing the blog? What sort of reaction have you got? 

I started doing www.tiredoflondontiredoflife.com when I started to think I was getting tired of London. A close friend had just left town and I was wondering what to do with myself, feeling bored, and that sort of thing. I suddenly realised how stupid I was being thinking I had done all there was to do in London, and started to look around more. I started the blog to record the flashes of inspiration which hit me during this period, so I could draw on them later.

2. Where do you get tips and suggestions from?  

 My ideas mostly come from keeping an eye out. This internet is great, but if you want to get beneath the surface, you have to go out and see what you find. I just head out on my bike with a pen and paper and a camera and see what I run into.

3. What is it about London that inspires you?  Are you generally happy here?  Are there any downsides? 

London is the greatest city in the world, but I have always had the same curiosity for finding things to do everywhere I have lived. I can’t stand people who sit around complaining about being bored and having nothing to do. Wherever you live in the world, you can always find things to embrace and enjoy.

I am generally happy in London, and it has enough to do to keep me busy. We all know it can be lonely occasionally, but there are easy ways to get around that


4. How do you manage your working/academic life so you have time to do all these fun things? Any tips for busy people to fit this stuff in?     

I do it all in the evenings and at weekends.  It’s rough, and sometimes I think it will kill me in the end.

 My tip for busy people is just to keep pushing yourself. Sometimes we all want to stay in and sit still, or watch TV, but then you might as well just give up on life.  Instead, you should try to book that course, buy those tickets, send that email to the friend you haven’t seen for ages or just grab your keys and head out on a wander.  You’ll never regret it.

 5. What are your top recommendations for interesting exhibitions, monuments/venues or events in London this summer?  Do you have a favourite place that you go back to time and time again? 

 Try to get to as many free community festivals as you can.  Go to Notting Hill but plan to come in from the North end to have the best time.  Go to the Lido.  Ride the Thames on your bike as far as you can – it doesn’t get crap til Reading and even then it’s only for a mile. I can’t think too far ahead – with these sorts of things I’m a bit of a last-minute planner.

 6. What do you do if you’re feeling uninspired?  Is there anything that you do or see that ALWAYS makes you happy or inspired?
 If I’m feeling uninspired, I go for a bike ride. Riding across London Bridge at sunset will always fix feeling uninspired, or going to a big cathedral. I don’t have religion, but it always makes me think “If hundreds of years ago people could build all this for an imaginary man who lives in the sky, I can probably manage to do the work I have to do“.

7. Do you have a perfect pub for Sunday lunch?  

 I love a wintry Sunday afternoon at the Holly Bush at Hampstead.

8. I see that you do tailor-made suggestions for things to do in London.  Any tips for me?

I’m sure you already know really.  The tailor-made thing is a reach-out to tourists, as it can often be very daunting going on holiday somewhere and not knowing much about where to go. I hate to think of tourists just hanging around Leicester Square and Covent Garden all weekend, so I try to help them out with a few tips. I think we should all do it.

 On the tips for London-residents front, I think people know just as much as I do about London really. I remember ages ago hearing Peter Watts, the former editor of the Time Out Big Smoke section, talking about his writing and he said he only knew certain bits of London and that was the same for everyone. People like me bluff that we know more, but in fact everyone has a great knowledge really. I just share mine. 

If you’re really looking for some tips though, have you been to the Passage Cafe in Clerkenwell, ridden Cycle Route One along the Lee Navigation to Ponders End, been to Franks Cafe in Peckham or spent the day at one of London’s scores of free London festivals recently? These things are all awesome. 

9. And finally… imagine your perfect day in London – where would you go and what would you do?

 I’d hire a boat and (providing it was safe) fill it with a handful of friends at Greenwich, then spend the day picking my way up the river through Westminster, Putney, Hammersmith, Kingston, Hampton Court, Shepperton and Teddington stopping at riverside pubs on the way. Then hopefully find a nice pub somewhere in the country to moor up and sleep under the stars.