Welcome to 1000 Awesome Things!

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Hey everyone,

My name is Neil and you’ve stumbled on my blog 1000 Awesome Things.

I wrote an entry on this site for 1000 straight weekdays from 2008 to 2012 while processing the loss of my marriage and a close friend. This blog was my home, my community, and in a lot of ways, my therapy. After this post went viral, the site exploded and won Best Blog in the World two years in a row, scoring over 50 million hits, turning into a series of books, and getting me invited to do a TED Talk, speak to royal families, and travel around the world talking about the power of optimism.

Although it sounds exotic and sexy, it honestly became too much. I lost forty pounds due to stress and wasn’t eating or sleeping well during this time. I was processing those losses and working a full-time job at Walmart the whole time — writing every night, writing every weekend, saying no to every invitation, relationship, and “outside the blog” opportunity that came my way. Eventually, I wised up and shifted from observing simple pleasures to simply living them. I started saying yes. I started dating again. I started reconnecting. And I eventually met someone new.

Leslie is a public school teacher in Toronto and we slowly fell in love, started dating, moved into together, and got married — and then on the flight home from our honeymoon (on the actual airplane) she told me she was pregnant. That got me writing again! For the next nine months I wrote a 300-page letter to my unborn child on how to live a happy life. I knew it wasn’t related to success. I had success! And seen many successful people. But I knew I wasn’t necessarily happy and neither were they. That letter became my new book The Happiness Equation which came out this year.

Now in my life I’m focused on new projects like The Institute for Global Happiness, speaking about positive mindset, and most importantly, raising a family with Leslie. As I write this our first son is two years old and we just welcomed our second son into the world. This is all why a few months ago I decided to finally quit my job at Walmart and live by the adage: “The longer you hold your breath under water the more interesting place you’ll come up.”

Life is random, chaotic, tiny short miracle. We’ve got around 30,000 days together total. For 1000 of those days this was my home and it’s where I began my journey towards finding happiness in my own life. You have my promise to always keep this site up, keep it running, and keep it ad-free. The full archive is here, supporting resources are here, and if you’d like to chat further feel free to drop me a line at the email address below.

Thanks for reading,

Neil Pasricha

Toronto, Canada
Spring, 2016

What is The Happiness Equation?

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When I’m with my son nothing else matters.

He sees the world as we should always see it. Staring at stars. Soaking in the smell of rain. Frantically reaching to touch the moon from his stroller on our morning walks.

Before he was born, I spent a long time writing him a letter. I was propelled with an urgency I hadn’t felt before. I put everything I had into writing something to leave him after I was gone. A place to go if there is nobody to guide him. A map to finding answers inside when he’s looked everywhere else.

I am really excited to share that letter with you today.

It’s called The Happiness Equation and it contains nine counterintuitive secrets to living a happy life.

I hope you like it.

Neil

Neil and his son

 

 

THE HAPPINESS EQUATIONLIVING PRESS SUMMARY

NEWSPAPER / MAGS: Forbes, FortuneTIMEFast CompanyGlamour, The Globe and MailThe Financial TimesAARP, The Calgary HeraldCanadian Business, CBCChatelaineCostco Connection, Macleans Cover StoryThe Toronto Star, …

BLOGS: Harvard Business ReviewBusinessInsidermindbodygreenBusinessInsider #2,  A Life of Productivity, HeleoHubSpot, INC, INC #2, INC #3LinkedInLive Happy,  The ObserverPostSecret, Quiet Revolution, ThoughtCatalog, …

PODCASTS: The Art of CharmThe Good Life ProjectThe Growth ShowLouder Than WordsThe Great Work Podcast, Optimal Living Daily, Optimize with Brian Johnson,Adventures in Happiness, Unmistakeable Creative, Unthinkable FM, …

TV / RADIO: Breakfast TelevisionCanada AM, CTV NewsGlobal News The Morning Show, iheartradio,  New Day Northwest, Breakfast Television Calgary, The SocialUInterview, WGN ChicagoThe Tommy Schnurmacher Show

MISC: Brian Johnson’s 5 Big Ideas, Talks at GoogleProductHunt Live, Reddit AMA, Quora Session

 

#2 Stopping to remember how lucky we are to be here right now

Over dinner one night my dad started telling me about his first day in Canada.

It was 1968 and he was twenty-three, arriving on a plane with eight dollars in his pocket to start a new life by himself in a country he had never visited.

“A community group had a welcome dinner for new immigrants,” he started excitedly “And they had a big table of food!”

I was unimpressed.

“A table of food,” I agreed flatly while staring straight ahead and flipping past baseball highlights on TV.

“A table of food,” he continued. “Basically Neil, all the presentation of the picnic food on the table, I didn’t recognize. There were two or three kinds of salad. Potato salad, macaroni salad, maybe coleslaw. Probably four different kinds of sandwiches, ham sandwich, turkey sandwich, chicken sandwich, roast beef sandwich. Then there were the main courses they called it, you know, tuna casserole? Then the desserts was pies. Which I never seen pies before.”

I put down the remote and glanced at him cock-eyed. Behind the thick, boxy glasses, I could see his eyes darting wildly.

“How did you know what everything was?”

“My brother was there, so I will ask him and he told me whatever it is. The trays of cold cuts was different, instead of regular chicken they have sliced them, sometimes they have them rolled with the toothpick in them. I had never seen cold cuts before, I seen chicken in chicken form, but not rolled up. Same for cheese… some were in slices, some of them in squares.”

“What did you eat?” I asked.

“I ate everything, that’s the only way to get to know! That’s how you get exposed when you don’t know, just try different things. I can’t believe how many things you can get here!”

My dad would take me to the grocery store and marvel at the signs beside every fruit. He was fascinated that pineapples came from Costa Rica and kiwis were shipped from New Zealand. Sometimes he came home and opened an atlas to find out where the countries were. “Somebody brought dates from Morocco and dropped them five minutes from the home.”

He’d just smile and shake his head.

But if I really stop to think about it, a lot had to happen before we could be here right now. A lot had to happen before we could buy bananas from Ecuador and eat turkey cold cuts, before we could scroll through blogs about warm underwear and cool pillows, before we learned to read anything at all, before we grew tall, before we could talk, before we could walk, before we were even born…

So let’s stop for a second and pull back. Let’s pull way, way, way, way back.

Okay.

You used to be a sperm.

Now don’t get self conscious. We all used to be sperm. Check out the period at the end of this sentence. That tiny little dot is around 600 microns wide. When you were a sperm you were about 40 microns wide. And you were so cute back then too with your little tail wagging all over the place and your love of swimming. Boy could you swim. In fact if you hadn’t outswum your siblings, you might be a slightly different version of yourself right now. Maybe you’d have a higher-pitched laugh, hairier arms, or stand two inches shorter.

You had a great life as a sperm but always felt incomplete. The truth is you weren’t whole until you met an egg. And then you two began a nine month project to make a cool new version of you. It took a while but you grew arms and legs and eyeballs and lungs. You grew nerves and nails and eardrums and tongues.

For a sperm to meet an egg it means your mom met your dad. But it’s not just them. Think about how many people had to meet, fall in love, and make love for you to be here. Here’s the answer: A lot. Like a lot a lot.

Before they had you, none of your ancestors drowned in a pond, got strangled by a python, or skied into a tree. None of your ancestors choked on a peach pit, were trampled by buffalo, or got their tie stuck in an assembly line.

None of your ancestors was a virgin.

You are the most modern, brightest spark of years and years and years of survivors who all had to meet each other in order to eventually make you.

Your nineteenth century Grandma met your nineteenth century Grandpa down at the candle-making shoppe. She liked his muttonchops and he thought she looked cute churning butter.

Your Middle Ages Grandpa met your Middle Ages Grandma while they both poured hot oil from the castle turrets on pillaging vikings. She liked his grunts and he thought the flowers in her hair made her heaving bosoms jump out.

Your Ice Age Grandpa crossing the Bering Bridge in a woolly mammoth fur met your Ice Age Grandma dragging a club in the opposite direction. He liked her saber-tooth necklace and she dug his unibrow.

Your ancient rainforest Grandpa was picking berries naked in the bush while your ancient rainforest Grandma was spearing dodos for dinner. She liked his jungle funk and he liked her cave drawings. If it wasn’t for the picnic they had afterwards, maybe you wouldn’t be here.

You’re pretty lucky all those people met, fell in love, made love, had babies, and raised them into other people who did it all over again. This happened over and over and over again for you to be here. Look around the plane, coffee shop, or park right now. Look at your husband snoring in bed, your girlfriend watching TV, or your sister playing in the backyard. You are surrounded by lucky people. They are all the result of long lines of survivors.

So you’re a survivor, too. You’re the latest and greatest. You’re the top of the line. You’re the very best nature has to offer.

But a lot had to happen before all your strong, fiery ancestors met each other and fell in love over and over again for hundreds of thousands of years …

So let’s stop for a second and pull back again. Let’s pull way, way, way, way back.

Okay.

Let’s go on a field trip. Put your shoes on because we’re heading outside.

Take a bowling ball and drop it on the edge of your driveway. That’s our Sun. Yeah, the ball is only eight inches across and the actual Sun is eight hundred thousand miles across but that’s our scale for this little brainwave. Okay, now walk down your street ten big paces and drop a grain of salt on your neighbor’s lawn. That’s Mercury. Take nine more paces down the street and drop a peppercorn for Venus. And then take another seven paces, so you’re now two or three houses down the block, and toss down another peppercorn.

You got it.

That peppercorn is Earth.

Here we are, basking in the blazing sun, twenty-six big steps away from the bowling ball. Our giant planet is just a tiny speck in the middle of nowhere but here’s the crazy part: It gets a whole lot bigger.

If you keep walking, Mars is only couple more houses away, but Jupiter ends up ninety-five big paces down the street, out of the neighborhood, and halfway to the corner store. By now a dog is probably slobbering in the bowling ball finger holes and kids are flying by you on their bikes, slurping drippy popsicles, and wondering what’s up with this nut tossing crumbs on the sidewalk, acting out some demented suburban version of Hansel and Gretel.

If you want to finish up our solar system, you’re going to have to start taking two- and three-hundred paces for the remaining planets, eventually dropping a grain of salt for Pluto half a mile away from the bowling ball. You can’t see the bowling ball with binoculars and it’s getting cold out for your long walk home.

But here’s the crazier part: That’s just our solar system. That’s just our bunch of rocks flying around our big bright bowling ball star.

Turns out our big bright star and all its salt and peppercorns are racing around a cosmic race track with two hundred billion other big bright bowling ball stars. You’d have to cover the entire Earth with bowling balls eight thousand times to represent the number of stars in our race track. Did we mention this race track has a name? Yup, it’s called the Milky Way galaxy, presumably because the scientists who first noticed it were all eating delicious Milky Way candy bars late that Friday night down at the telescopes.

So basically our bowling ball, salt, and peppercorns are flying in the fast lane around a ridiculously giant race track galaxy called the Milky Way with billions and billions of other bowling balls, salt grains, and peppercorns, too.

But are you ready for the craziest part: That’s just our galaxy. Guess how many giant racetrack galaxies are in all of outer space? Oh, not many. Just more than we can possibly count. Honestly, nobody knows how many galaxies are out there in the big blackness. All we know is that every few years somebody stares out a little further and finds millions more of them just shining way out in the void. We don’t know how deep it goes because our rocketships don’t blast off that far and our thickest, fattest telescopes can’t see that far.

Now, all this space talk might make us feel small and insignificant, but here’s the thing, here’s the big thing, here’s the biggest thing of all: Of the millions of places we’ve ever seen it appears as though Earth is the only place that can support life. The only place! Oh sure, there could be other life-giving planets we haven’t seen yet, but the point is that Earth could easily have been a clump of sulphur gas, be lying in darkness forever, or have a winter that dips a couple hundred degrees and lasts twenty years like Uranus.

On this planet Earth, the only one in the giant dark blackness where anything can live, we ended up being humans.

Congratulations, us!

We are the only species on the only life-giving rock capable of love and magic, architecture and agriculture, jewelry and democracy, airplanes and highway lanes. We’re the only ones with interior design and horoscope signs, fashion magazines and house party scenes, horror flicks with monsters, guitar jams at concerts. We got books, buffets and radio waves, wedding brides and roller coaster rides, clean sheets and good movie seats, bakery air and rain hair, bubble wrap and illegal naps.

We got all that. But people, listen up.

We only get a hundred years to enjoy it.

I’m sorry but it’s true.

Every single person you know will be dead in a hundred years — the foreman at your plant, the cashiers at your grocery store, every teacher you’ve ever had, anyone you’ve ever woken up beside, all the kids on your street, every baby you’ve ever held, every bride who’s walked down the aisle, every telemarketer who’s called you at dinner, every politician in every country, every actor in every movie, everyone who’s cut you off on the highway, everyone in the room you’re sitting in right now, everyone you love, and you.

Life is so great that we only get a tiny moment to enjoy everything we see. And that moment is right now. And that moment is counting down. And that moment is always, always fleeting.

You will never be as young as you are right now.

So whether you’re enjoying your first toothpicked turkey cold cuts and marveling at apples from South Africa, dreaming of strange and distant relatives from thousands of years ago, or staring into the blackness of deep, deep space, just remember how lucky we all are to be here right now.

If you feel that sense of wonder and beauty in all the tiny joys in life then you’re part of an international band of old souls and optimists, smiling on sidewalks, dancing at weddings, and flipping to the other side of the pillow. Let’s all high five and keep thinking wild thoughts, dreaming big dreams, and laughing loud laughs.

Thank you so much for reading this blog.

And thank you for being

AWESOME!

Photos from: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here

#3 The farthest corners of your mind

It’s where the wild things are.

See, we’ll never really know how far the universe flies but maybe we should be wondering how far our minds go inside.

Because when you let your thoughts run free … they bounce all over the place. When your brain slips into the basement … it zooms to outer space. And when we see you thinking deeply … we see love all over your face.

What’s in the far corners of your mind?

Is it a wild idea you’ve been itching to try? Is it time you finally asked out that guy? Is it a business you know you should have started last year? A scary thought about switching careers? Or a dull ache and pain that won’t heal till you see her?

Let the far corners of your mind to take you closer, take you farther, and take you away.

Yes, let the marbles roll till the table ends, let the lights get bright near the edge of the bend, and let those whispering voices just start screaming again.

AWESOME!

Thank you to Rothesay, New Brunswick for picking The Book of (Even More) Awesome as their town read!

Photo from: etnaboris

#4 Today

Today’s the greatest day you’ve ever lived.

Today’s the only day you’ve ever lived.

The past is gone, the future is far, nothing else matters, except where you are.

AWESOME!

The Happiness Equation is currently #1 overall on the Globe Int’l bestseller list!

The Happiness Equation - Cover

Photo from: here