x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

The writer Neil Pasricha has an awesome view of life

The Canadian lifestyle guru started his hugely successful blog, 1,000 Awesome Things, as a way of coping with some major traumas.

Author Neil Pasricha. Heidi Gutman / NBC
Author Neil Pasricha. Heidi Gutman / NBC

How far it's come

It was just on April 19 that Neil Pasricha pondered his 1,000th observation of what makes life "awesome". The Canadian human resources officer reflected on a four-year journey that saw his blog draw more than 50 million hits, win the top Webby Awards prize and spawn three books, including the best-seller The Book of Awesome.

"It felt bittersweet," Pasricha recalls. "People were telling me: 'You wrote bestsellers, you've been on TV shows, spoken to companies and universities. You should do that full time and stop writing the blog and focus on that.'

"And I would always say that I would not stop 'til I wrote a thousand awesome things. Now that I've done that, I feel like I've finally crossed out the final item on my to-do list."

How it started

Pasricha started 1,000 Awesome Things in 2008 during a time of personal upheaval. Coping with a disintegrating marriage and helping a close friend battle depression, Pasricha began writing online as a form of daily mental exercise. Nearly each day he would file a blog entry listing one of life's silver linings. Some blogs were a snappy few sentences, others mini-essays, but all of them would finish with the same sign-off: "AWESOME!"

After his marriage collapsed and his friend committed suicide, the blog turned into something else for Pasricha: a form of therapy.

"When I look back at the 1,000 Awesome Things, I see that I wrote about crying - number 858 and why that is awesome - after my wife told me she wanted a divorce," he recalls. "Number 829 was about smiling and looking back at friends who are gone. Number 567, getting to the light at the end of the tunnel, was about moving forward after going through a devastating moment in life."

Why people love it

While many related to Pasricha's struggles, what seems to have struck a chord was his determination to look on the bright side.

In Pasricha's world, life is full of amazing moments we could all enjoy just like he does - if only we paid attention. For instance, there's number 256: the moment in a song when the bass kicks in: "Your head starts grooving, your arms start moving, and everything inside you just wants to dance." Or number 137: laughing at home when you're by yourself, because it's "special and something sincere".

Pasricha says coming up with 1,000 awesome moments made him tap into his inner child. "This is why I love hanging out with three-year-olds," he says. "Through their eyes you can appreciate the small pleasures of the world."

What's next

Pasricha is taking a break from blogging, and won't say if or when he plans to start compiling more awesome things. Despite his success, he is determined to continue seeing awesome things as part of a low-key life. "That's why I still live in a cramped apartment in downtown Toronto and drive half an hour to work in my hatchback every day."

Pasricha, with Chad Crittenden, the triathlete and cancer survivor, and Shawn Achor, the author of The Happiness Advantage, will speak at the Positive Thinking Seminar, a free event on Wednesday from 7pm at Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Cultural District, Abu Dhabi. For details, visit www.sshf.ae