#238 Sticking your foot in the door just before it closes

Close call.

You almost had to open that door from the fully-closed position. Hands on doorknobs, fingers on sweaty bacteria, we don’t want that. Good thing you wedged your sneaker in there before it shut completely and saved us alllllllll the hassle.


— Email message —

“Hi Neil, my friend Amy discovered your book on her birthday, and we stayed up until 3 in the morning while she read it to me, and from then on I was inspired to keep a log of my own personal moments of Awesome like #16: Slurping all the half-melted mini marshmallows off the top of your hot chocolate in one fantastic slurp, and #20: When you’re sure you’ve gained weight but the scale says you’ve lost 2 pounds! Here’s a picture of Amy and I with my book.” – Jaclyn

Photo from: here

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#239 The bite with all the toppings

Lettuce is overrated.

Seriously, sandwich place — we don’t need a watery chompful of the pale green gratedness every time we bite into your squashed six-inch sub. Piling two handfuls on there like you’re setting up the stable with straw for the horse to give birth is too much. Hay hay, we’re saying we’ve really had enough of the flavorless green stuff. Cut off the crusts, scrap those nibbles, and let’s get to that bite with all the toppings in it:

1. On a hamburger! Grease glistens on that ketchupy smeared bite of pinkness, with little onions, pickle tasters, and tiny drips of mustard all coating the warm and mealy middle.

2. On a burrito! Helloooo, guacamole. We missed you, sour cream. In this dream scene the white and green combines with blackened chicken chunks, limey rice, and tangy salsa to give you a flavor explosion. Sometimes you get so excited you accidentally eat some tin foil by accident. It happens.

3. On a sundae! There’s nothing sweeter than hitting the perfect ratio of melty vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, clumpy-cold chocolate sauce, and sprinkled nuts for texture. Welcome to the Taste Nucleus. Just close your eyes and enjoy hitting the sweet spot.

4. On homemade anything! Whether it’s the cookie bite with chocolate chips and walnuts or the lasagna chomp where you hit the extra mushrooms and mozzarella, you’re loving that bite with a little bit of whatever mom threw in the pot.

Yes, that bite with all the toppings in it is a magical place sitting in a towering throne that offers glimmering dining room riches you haven’t seen before and may not see again. To get there you must battle through bland bun nibbles, spoon past all-whipped cream bites, and chomp past plain rice or grated lettuce nightmares.

When you hit that bite with all the toppings in it make sure you take a minute to celebrate finally getting there.

You made it to Flavor Paradise.


Want my latest writing? Check out Neil.blog.

— Email message —

“Hi Neil, We just got the book of even more awesome last night and we were all reading it cause we love it. Today we were inspired to write down a few things that we think are awesome. Some of our favorites are pulling your hair up into a messy bun and changing into comfy clothes after a long day, when you feel like you’re the only person in the entire world that knows what you’re doing at that moment and learning how to land a front flip.” – Carolyn (14), Sarah (10) and Robbie (7)

Photos from: here, here, and here

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#240 Being single

We see you, we hear you.

We see those movie endings and we hear those greeting cards. We know the cheesy quotes and we sing those ballads at bars. We feel those preaching choirs and we read those magazine tips. We feel our parents pushing and we hear your chatty lips.

Yes, we know having a boyfriend is great and we know it’s beautiful and kind. But all we’re saying today, and all we’re trying to prove, is that you don’t need a killer girlfriend to have a killer mood.

Let’s chat about ten winning ways to celebrate your solo days:

1. Some like it hot. When you’re on your own you’re the master of the tank and the chances of a random flush scalding your skin is pretty slim. You’re less likely to run out of hot water so just twist that dial and soak into the zone.

2. One set of parents. Sure, you lose out on some inlaw naps but you could gain back holiday budgets, extra bedrooms, and Saturday evenings. Note to any inlaws reading this: This entry is about other inlaws, not you.

3. Take back the night. When you’re bumping around by yourself there’s no need to worry about making too much noise early or late. Tiptoes, quiet TV watching, and softly shutting doors take a backseat to cranking tunes, late-night phone calls, and your big galoomping feet.

4. Don’t be an ass. Single folks have no obligation to do joint Halloween costumes like Beauty and the Beast or the classic two-person donkey. Because don’t we all feel a little bit sorry for that couple dressed as Salt and Pepper shakers leaving the party at 10pm?

5. Flirt like you mean it. Chitchatting with sparkly objects of your desire is good fun. When you’re single ditch the guilt and holler at the busty waitress or chiseled cop. Not only is it exciting, but you’re growing your social skills and constantly meeting new people.

6. Getting to know you. You’re the only you you’ve got. Born and blasted into the world you’re a baby brain who flies through life forming crackly connections with everyone you meet. But getting to know yourself through experiences and deep thoughts adds important shapes and smears to your identity.

7. Bargain basement holidays. Tap your wallet and smile next time you walk by a towering Valentine’s Day display of heart-filled chocolates and pink teddy bears.

8. You can get with this or you can get with that. Are you hungry at 11pm? Get a burger! Are you bored on a Saturday night? Hit the scene! Do you want to free up your busy weekend or busy up your free one? Well the choice is yours! You can get with this or you can get with that. I think you’ll get with this for this is where it’s at.

9. Own your bed, own your life. When you’re single the entire bed is yours and you can test a variety of Starfish poses, Chun-Li leg kick positions, or even the extremely bold diagonal sleeping. (Rarely done.)

10. Embrace your disgusting habits. Clipping your toenails in bed, napping in piles of dirty clothes, or chomping greasy handfuls of potato chips over the sink is fine, fine, fine. The mirror won’t judge you and neither will anybody else.

People, let’s hear it today for being single. Exploring the world, finding adventures, and scoping big scenes are hallmarks of being cool with being you. Because look — falling in love is great and falling in love is nice but that doesn’t mean going alone can’t also be sugar and spice. Good days and bad days, setting suns and shining stars, it’s all about perspective and focusing on who you are. Because if all you need is love, and all love needs is you, then it’s great to relax and enjoy… just being you with you.


I read 5-10 books every month and email out my “monthly book club” with the recommendations. No ads, no spam. Click here to get it.

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

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#241 When everyone else you’re dining with at the restaurant agrees you made the best choice

Good work, Menu Detective.

You finger-picked between standard options and boring choices to find that hidden gem of deliciousness hiding way down in the corner. Now when anyone asks about the food and nods politely you can smile a sneaky smile, clear your throat, wipe your napkin across your lips, and scream out a great big word.


Are you addicted to your cell phone? Here’s what I recommend:

— Email message —

“Six years ago when I was a junior in college, I received an interesting parcel in my mail. It was a notebook of graph paper describing a friendship between me and someone in my creative writing class. The strange thing was that, although I admired this person, we hadn’t really spoken. The first page in the notebook suggested beginning a friendship through letters, to be written in the notebook and passed back and forth. To my delight, we spent the entire year writing each other, sharing stories, photographs, poetry, and all sorts of things. We each added 25 items every time–from “Soft Pretzels” to “When I’m Driving in My Neighborhood and I See Someone Bent Straight over While Gardening,” eventually totaling 500. It was a bright spot in an otherwise dark time. Every new “Awesome” post on your blog reminds me of my friend, and that, in itself, is pretty awesome.” – Lindsey

Photo from: here

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#242 When the mug in the microwave stops turning with the handle pointing towards you

I own three bowls.

I don’t really know why I only own three bowls but when I moved downtown two years ago I only had three bowls and I never bothered to bowl up. One for my cereal, one for my soup, and a spare in case of Emergency Ice Cream Sundaes. It’s seemed like a solid plan.

But last night Leslie and her sister were over for dinner and we whipped up some soup and salad. Who loves soup? I do, do. And salad? Me, me, me. Yes, it sounded like a perfect meal, well planned, well tossed, and well … delicious.

It wasn’t until Leslie forked out three heaping bowls of salad did I realize the error of my ways. My delicious soup was getting cold fast on the stove without any bowls to pour it in. Passing around a pot and taking sips seemed a bit too Cavemany and waiting till the salad was done to wash the bowls seemed a bit too Slow.

But then it suddenly hit us.


Yes, mugs really are the backup bowl of the kitchen. Scramble an egg in there, soupify your ice cream, they don’t care. Nope, they are loyal and versatile Ceramic Warriors — ready for war, battle, or holding things, any time of the day.

So after quickly splash-pouring the soup into mugs I tossed each one into the microwave for some good ol’ fashioned nuking to warm them up. And when the ding dinged a few seconds later our dinnertime masterpiece was complete with the mug handle pointed perfectly towards us.

Yes, when the mug stops perfectly with the handle pointing towards you it really is a beautiful moment. Doesn’t matter if you’re heating soup, warming cold coffee, or hotting chocolate. It’s just a tiny sign that the universe is unfolding according to plan.

It means everything is good.

It means everything is right.

And it means everything is most certainly


Want to know how to get over social anxiety? I made a video to share:

— Email message —

“hi, Im from costa rica, and I just read your article about kids helping their little brother or sister across the street, I just want to share this pic with you, My kids running to the sea, I hope you like it.” -Melissa C.

Photo from: here

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#243 Having a staring contest with a baby

Because they don’t even know they’re playing.


— Email message — “Over the summer our teacher read your book, now Room 10 at Waihi Beach School are creating the Kids 100 Awesome Things. The kids make suggestions, then vote for the most awesome idea. Miss Hardley our teacher types like a maniac as we talk, then we check and edit her typing.” – From Miss Hardley and Room 10 Waihi Beach School, New Zealand.

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#244 Kids helping their little brother or sister across the street

Three cheers for brothers and sisters.

There’s something beautiful about watching kids holding hands as they cross the street. You’re seeing someone small grow into someone tall. Those hands are the bridge from the stroller to the future, from walking with their parents to walking by themselves.

And those brothers and sisters helping them might be the people they know best their whole lives. From beginning to end, through curves and bends, they’ll remember holding hands on early walks to school, inside the scary movies, and coming home from the pool.

Brothers and sisters helping little ones on their way is a sun-smiling moment of beauty and a tiny little drip of


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#245 Cool moms

I love cool moms.

When I was growing up there was a Sunny D commercial on TV where a gang of kids in backwards caps and jammer shorts roller skates home before helping mom bring in the groceries. When they go inside they search between a fridge packed with cola and purple stuff before pulling out a jug of Sunny D to big cheers. Later they’re chilling under a tree when mom returns with an armload of Sunny D. As the scene closes one of the kids screams out “You got a cool mom!”

And despite the cheesy cheese quality of this old commercial there really is something sweet about finding out your friend has a cool mom. Cool moms are often detected in the wild after displaying some of these familiar characteristics:

· Anywhere, anytime sugar. Cool moms have candy and sugary cereals you don’t have at your house and they’ve got no problem filling your bowl with Corn Pops after a sleepover or letting you drink a big cup of Coke with dinner.

· Grease runs for fun. Loud cheers from the back of the station wagon and the Minivan Applause-O-Meter guide cool moms to ice scream shops and McDonald’s drive-thrus. Six-year soccer teams get sundaes or chip truck fries whenever cool mom is driving them home.

· Steady behind the wheel. Cool moms drive your friends all over the place. She’s your taxi to the mall food court, baseball diamond, or movie theater. Cool moms also take care not to embarrass you in front of your friends by controlling the bad jokes and goodbye kisses. Sometimes they slip you an extra fiver, too.

· Lax sleepover policies. She knows you and your teenage friends will watch the R-rated movie in the basement anyway so cool mom doesn’t fuss much with the ratings or the extra half hour of TV before bed. Let the kids talk a bit during the sleepover, she figures. Nobody’s getting hurt.

· Anonymous phone-a-friend always open. Cool moms give off sparkly vibes of open-mindedness that let kids know their questions won’t be judged. Cool moms take your friend for her first tampons, help you call the neighbor after tossing a ball through their window, and are always around to chat about anything serious.

When you have a friend with a cool mom you’re loving it lots, baby. They’re usually found upstairs at that one house everyone always hangs out at. Now, if you’re a cool mom your house sure is full of big smiles, loud laughs, and happy kids. You value the best things in life and live to love for years and years and years.

Hey, cool moms! Guess what? You’re


— Email message —

“At the beginning of spring semester, I put up a sign in my dorm’s community bathroom. It said “This is the list of 1000 Awesome People….Every person is awesome in their own way, and they need a little shout out!” The girls on my floor took this idea and RAN with it. We hit 400 before midterms! The list was completed the 2nd week of April and is comprised of everybody from Cookie Monster, to a lady who helped us dig out a car from the snow, to our Resident Advisor, and the girl we saw wearing a “Virginity Rocks!” shirt. It’s pretty much the best thing ever to be able to list 1000 people and have a “spill over list” of even MORE people that rock…. in fact, I’d say it’s AWESOME.” – Sarah

Photos from: here, here, here, and here

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#246 When you’re looking for a friend at the grocery store and suddenly spot them at the end of the aisle

Sounds easy enough.

You grab the meat, I’ll grab the veggies, meet you at the front.

But after completing your Mint N’ Mushroom Mission and racing to the checkouts you suddenly find yourself all alone in Lineup Paradise. You can’t hang onto the awkward armload of plastic baggies for long so you trek out on a classic grocery store Hide And Seek Hunt.

Now you’re running around the store peeking your hopeful head down every aisle — hoping to spy your friend agonizing over salsa choices or sampling cold cuts way down the distant lane. You scramble forwards and back again before the big moment finally comes.

It’s your friend way, way down at the other end of the store.

And they’re waving.


Wow! The Book of Awesome is officially a New York Times bestseller! Thank you everyone! Our awesome movement rages on.

— Email message —

” While at the cottage reading the original book of awesome things I happened across this page and couldn’t help but sigh and think of how awesome life was at that moment. Enjoy the attached picture. :)” – Olivia from Ottawa

Photo from: here

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#247 Drinking anything other than wine out of a wine glass

Suddenly your milk gets classy, your orange juice gets refined, and your chocolate milk feels more sophisticated.

When you’re a kid you suddenly go from ten years old to thirty and can legally show up at the dinner table with heavily slicked and parted hair, a handkerchief puffing out of your pocket, and cuff links.


I worked for two years to develop an interactive introduction to guided meditation for children. It’s a 32-page picture book called Awesome Is Everywhere. Click here for more details (and a free Teacher’s Guide!)


— Email message —

“My name is Arvind and I am in 9th Grade. In the past few months, I’ve gone through hard times in school and out. I am an avid follower of TED and won’t hesitate to say that your talk, which got me into reading your blog, has changed my life. In High School, I’m surrounded by negativity every day, from the omnipresent rumors to the crying and screaming that come with hormones. These feelings of negativity that (no matter what) made it into my mind were only amplified when my parents and I discovered a few months ago that I had a malignant infection spreading through my spine. After four surgeries and no positive outcomes, I began to lose hope. Watching your TED talk gave me a flicker of faith, both in my making it through my health conditions, as well as staying true to myself in High School surrounded by all the mixed feelings around me. After that I began to read your blog; day-after-day I went through it from #1000 down, finding ones that I loved (#526, 629), ones that I would never forget (#566, 546), ones that gave me hope (#340). One day during an appointment with my doctor, he told me that there was a way to get rid of my infection; it involved a more complex surgery as well as a 3-week-long interferon treatment. There was only one problem: its 55% success rate. Sure, the odds were in my favor, but just barely. After days of contemplating (and reading 1000 Awesome Things), I told my parents that I wanted the procedure. The physical and mental pain the infection (and associated ‘medicines’) were causing me was not worth my entire life and all my goals, and though I knew I had a 45% chance of failure staring me down, I proceeded with the surgery without ever looking back. I am glad to say that the surgery was successful; I finished my interferon course last week and the infection has entirely disappeared. I came back to school last week as well, and found the atmosphere completely changed. I no longer felt the negativity pressuring me. None of the rumors or comments being spread around really mattered to me, nor did the social ‘niches’ that inevitably form in High School. I feel like I finally have a grasp on my life- that I can get through whatever hardships it throws my way. Through the storm of my health complications and friend troubles, I found myself. Without 1000 Awesome Things, I would never have had that final push that allowed me to conquer my troubles and continue to live my life with head held high and a smile on my face. Thank you. p.s. The first day I came back into school after my treatment, I received a standing ovation from everyone in my grade. I think that, is truly and entirely, AWESOME!” – Arvind

Photo from: here

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