Read this first! A 30-second summary of me and this blog!

Hey everyone,

My name is Neil Pasricha and here’s me in 30 seconds!

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#433 When you’re next

Suddenly the shuffling crowd parts and you’re at the front of the line. Suddenly your boss quits and nobody else can do her job. Suddenly you’re on deck during a late inning tie game. Suddenly your sister’s finished opening her Christmas present.

Suddenly you’re next.


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#434 Finding your pizza soulmate

Toppings are tough.

The other day I was watching movies with my friend Shiv when our stomachs started rumbling and we decided to dial for dinner. I got up and grabbed a stack of crinkly takeout menus from the junk drawer and we flipped through all the fancy ones before settling on pizza.

Of course, before I picked up the phone we entered into one of those classic Pre-Order Topping Chats.

Most of us know from experience that those chats don’t always end well. Brother, it can get heated with the double cheese debates and stormy arguments over pineapple juice runoff. I’ve seen movie nights get divided and end with tears, broken hearts, and slamming bathroom doors. Shiv and I had both been hurt before so we entered into our chat slowly:

“So… uh, what do you like on your pizza?”

“Oh, you know, I’m pretty easy. Do you like … meat?”

“Yeah, of course. Pepperoni then? What about mushrooms?”

“I love mushrooms! Okay… pepperoni, mushrooms. Want to get one more? Um, how do you feel about pineapple?” (giant nervous smile with raised eyebrows)

“No way, you like pineapple? That’s my favorite! This is perfect, I always get pepperoni, mushrooms, and pineapple. And thin crust.”

“I love thin crust! We’re Pizza Soulmates!”

An hour later we were still wearing clown-faced grins when we popped open a steaming box of crispy-corner pepperoni, paper thin mushrooms, and juicy pineapple chunks staring back at us. We sat back and scarfed back a lot of hot slices of perfect pizza that night. And it was beautiful.

Life will twist and turn us in all directions, but let’s remember that we all deserve to be happy. Yeah, I say forget half-toppings, forget counting slices, and forget making sacrifices. If you like green olives, hot peppers, or spicy sausage, don’t leave it off.

Just keep looking for your Pizza Soulmate.

Maybe they’re out there right now looking for you.


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#435 Food drooling

Check out that sexy plastic tray.

Welcome to the crowded food court, workplace lunch room, or high school cafeteria. Thin napkins and ketchup smears cover tables as wailing babies and french fry fumes fill the air. It’s time for lunch so your stomach’s grumbling and all you can think about is how hungry you are.

That’s when it happens.

A smoking babe struts by and all you notice are her enchiladas. A hot guy cruises over and all you see is his taco salad. Just then someone runs over your foot with their wheelchair but you’re too hypnotized by their thai curry to feel any pain.

Eyes pop and drool drips as you stand spinning in a neon daze. This is modern day hunting and you’re tray gawking with the finest. You know you’re food drooling when one of these classic moments happens:

1. The Shoulder Tap. You’re dining out with friends and you spot a couple eating something good by the window. You stare down at your menu and discover that it’s … just text! No steaming stir frys or scrambled slams staring up at you. Now you eyeball their meals and casually stroll by on your way to the bathroom to see what’s cooking. If you’re like me, you try and fail to find their meal on the menu. “They’ve got something covered in cheese and tomato sauce over there… but there’s no chicken parmesan listed.” Now you give a guilty smile and shoulder tap the waiter for help. Or for extra rudeness points you can yell across the room to ask them. Maybe even clink a fork on your wine glass to get their attention.

2. The Bad Trade. After reuniting with your three geek pals at the plastic food court table under the fake umbrella you notice three of you got cold sandwiches while one person came back with a steaming plate of hot lasagna and fresh garlic bread. Staring at that delicious lasagna is too much so finally someone snaps and tries to make a bad trade. “How about six inches of my sub for a few bites?” It’s a pathetic offer but they had to try. What have you got to lose besides bland lettuce scraps and a green tomato slice?

3. The Lazy Man’s Regret. There’s always one guy willing to wait ten minutes at the made-to-order pasta station in the caf or the omelet station at the hotel buffet. Sure, you think he’s a fool at first, but after he sits down you can’t help stare deep into his dish and curse your impatient ways. “I too could have had egg-white omelet with cheese and mushrooms.” Tears spill as you think about the cardboard scrambled eggs and cold chewy pancakes you just ate.

4. The Unobtainable Leftovers. That stack of microwaves in the office cafeteria is a leftover fashion show. This is where I stuff my freezer-burned chili while drooling over the leftover fettuccine and homemade curries popping out of other machines. These meals aren’t accessible to me, no line I can wait in, no money I can pay. So I’m stuck staring like a food drooling fool.

When we’re hungry our stomachs rule and office meetings, bathroom breaks, and text messages fade to the background. Now it’s time to food drool and fill your stomach by spotting ice cream sources, sniffing steaming coffees, and tracking back those greasy snacks so you can fill your belly with a whole lotta


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#436 When the subway doors stop right in front of where you’re standing

Come on in.

When you’re first in the car it’s time for some smoooooth sitting. Yes, you’ve got your pick of the seats before anyone else gets in there. Do you want the chipped orange plastic one in the corner with the Coke spilled on it or the stained yellow one in front smeared with smudgy newspapers?

Decisions, decisions.

Now, when the subway door stops in front of you it sort of feels like you own the train. After it screeches to a slow stop make sure you smile thinly, check your pocket watch, and tip your hat to the conductor before swishing your trenchcoat up into your private car.


Photos from: here and here

— Want more book recommendations? I can help with that

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#437 Seeing a plane in the sky from the airplane window

Hello out there.

Staring out your airplane window and spotting another plane cruising calmly through the clouds feels a bit mysterious and magical. The open skies are suddenly traffic lanes from The Jetsons and you get to take a brain step back at how far we’ve come…

While our ancestors were painting ocean caves, sleeping in treetops, and crossing ice bridges into new worlds, I bet they never guessed in just a few years we’d be zooming across the planet through the sky staring at other people flying on by.

We’re going places, people.

And we’re going fast.


Photos from: here and here

— Check out my podcast 3 Books 

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#438 Almost Names

It’s what your parents were going to call you but didn’t.

Flipping through baby books, chatting at bedtime, you better believe your folks had alternate identities in mind before you borned out. They thought about nicknames, shortforms, and tributes. They thought about spelling, rhyming, and meanings. Basically, they thought and hoped and wished all kinds of things for you even before you made it here.

Sometimes when you find out your Almost Name it feels odd and uncomfortable — like putting on an itchy shirt, clenching your fist after waking up, or walking out of a movie and realizing your foot’s asleep. Maybe you let your mind wander and daydream about a new life where your Almost Name takes top billing and your nicknames, identity, and major life choices are all dramatically affected. You wonder how your life could be different — would you be more confident? Less passionate? More artsy? Less annoying?

Nothing’s the same when you’re Nancy.

Everything changes when you’re Chuck.

Now, my Almost Name is Paul.

Yes, it was a close call and my parents switched over to Neil at the last minute. I’m pretty sure Neil Diamond or Neil Armstrong got the name bouncing around their brains like a ping pong ball. But somehow Paul got tossed in the can before I showed up and my entire Paul Life got tossed with it.

And maybe that’s one reason Almost Names are so great: they remind us how lucky we are to get something else. I mean, it’s fun letting Almost Names add frames and borders to our lives … because it helps us feel a little more sure of ourselves and a lot more


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#441 Hitting the point on the road trip when you’re really far from where you started and really far from where you’re going

Do you know that rickety bridge scene from the movies?

Violins screech and kettle drums swell as our hero tiptoes across a dangerous rope bridge swinging wildly over a dark canyon at the pulsing climax of the film. The audience gasps and grips their armrests as she kicks a loose plank and the camera painfully watches it whip and shatter against the rocky cliffside before falling into the deep river rapids below.

But after some tense moment there’s a beautiful wide shot of our hero stepping slowly past the saggy midpoint of that flimsy bridge… and that’s when she first commits to going all the way. Turning back isn’t a shortcut anymore, turning back isn’t an option, and so she firms those lips, steadies those hips, and plows forward with steely-eyed determination till she gets to the other side.

Scenes like that remind me of hitting that beautiful middle-of-nowhere midpoint on a road trip. You had the guts to tiptoe out of your neighborhood and now you’re a highway explorer whipping past barns and water towers, twiddling with new radio stations, and staring up at a whole new world just a few feet away…


Photos from: here and here

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