From a blog that just started out as a regular blog, 1000 Awesome Things has gone on to be translated into three bestselling books. The author, Neil Pasricha is no longer a regular blogger, but an inspiring, even phenomenal figure to his readers. His idea of blogging about one “awesome” or positive thing every week day for the past four years has drawn readers from all over the world, resulting in 40 million followers for the blog. Very recently, Pasricha revealed the number one “awesome thing” as “Anything you want it to be.” Generation Next was in conversation with this inspirational author:
GN: What would be your top three lessons from the entire exercise of writing 1000 Awesome Things?
NP: Number one is—You can do it. I started writing 1000awesomethings.com four years ago, and I didn’t know how to write a blog or even how to be on the internet, and the fact is that if I can do it, if Justin Bieber can do it, then you can do it too. Number two—we are all looking for the positive; if you open a newspaper or turn on the TV, there’s a lot of bad news—jobless claims are rising, hurricanes and earthquakes are circling the globe…Everybody is looking for something good and the mind is shifting. If we embrace that, we’ll all be awesome. And the third is that we are all the same. At the end of the day, no matter how rich we are or how poor we are; what color we are—we all love. There are so many little awesome things that remind us how much we all have in common
GN: What is 1000 Awesome Things about, in a sentence?
NP: 1000 Awesome Things is a daily reminder of how many simple little pleasures we all have in life.
GN: Did you ever have an entry block where you were stuck for ideas on the next blog post? If yes, how did you resolve that?
NP: There were times when I came home and I was writing tomorrow’s blog post and couldn’t think of anything. At those times, I checked my email or cell phone and found hundreds and hundreds of awesome things that people sent me. People would say, “You know I love bakery; I think it’s awesome,” or “I love putting the pillow over in the middle of the night.” They were reminding me of the things we have and then I would have another post for the next day.
GN: How has this exercise improved your life, besides the book deals and the business side of it?
NP: It has made me happier. When I started writing 1000awesomethings.com, I was in a pretty tough place. I was in a marriage going in the wrong direction and my best friend was battling a severe illness, and any one awesome thing in a day cheered me up. In a way, it was like therapy.
GN: What are some of your current/future projects?
NP: The direction right now is to follow my own advice. The last four years I’ve been talking about, telling people to find out the awesome things in their lives. So the next thing I am going to do? Spend time, focusing a lot on things that matter to me. I’d like to spend time with my girlfriend, family, friends, I’d like to go to the gym more, like to cook my meals more often than eating out, those little things that we all know well but don’t pay attention to.
GN: What are some of your most memorable moments of 1000 Awesome Things?
NP: The most awesome moment was waking up every morning and see people from everywhere—Australia, Germany, Belgium, Iraq commenting on how much they all loved popping bubble wrap, how much they all loved getting a hug from a baby, these are the simple pleasures that make us all human, no matter from what walk of life they are or how old they are.
…“Just remember how lucky you are,” my dad used to say, while steering us back into our shady subdivision. “All those pictures are from your own country. It’s the best country in the world and you get to live here!”
Dad, you were right:
1. Drink till you drop. See all those blue puddles on the map of Canada? Yeah, the last ice age ripped deep holes up here and now they’re filled with the world’s largest supply of fresh water. Sometimes they’re not even frozen.
2. As the world turns. Our tiny planet tilts on its axis every year and since Canada is smacked on the top of Earth, those big tilts result in big seasons. There’s a quiet rhythm with the seasons in Canada — with ice scrapers, wet umbrellas, chipped picnic tables, and heavy wool sweaters all making annual appearances.
3. Share the wealth. Canadians toss about half of everything they make into a big glass jar and use it to pay for health care, education, and services for all. Oh sure, the system’s never perfect, but if you shatter your leg in an icy parking lot, need a dozen years of free school for six kids, or want to drive on clean roads across the country, well we got you baby, we got you.
4. Paint it black, green and blue Canada has a long history of investing in culture and arts. There’s afternoon storytelling on public radio, film festivals all over the place, and musicians and movie-makers scoring cash from the government to make their masterpiece. People paint bikes, spray-paint alley walls, and busk on side streets, with folks always looking, finding, and sharing beauty.
5. Free to be you and me. “It’s a free country,” my dad used to say, and he meant it, too. You can live where you want, pray to anybody you please, marry anyone you like, and watch anything on TV. Plus, being one of the world’s most diverse countries means you can find temples, neighborhoods, and sports broadcasts to fit your taste.
6. Deliciously disgusting. With so many backgrounds and cultures a city in Canada might have samosas, schwarma, and ceviche on the same corner. But there are other very Canadian treats too like Nanaimo Bars (chocolate, coconut, icing squares), poutine (hot fries covered in gooey cheese curds and steamy gravy), butter tarts (melted brown sugar with raisins in a greasy pastry), Montreal smoked meat (salted, cured, steamed beef brisket served with mustard on rye bread), and Ketchup chips (ketchup chips).
7. Canadian animals seem polite too. No pythons, scorpions, sharks, crocs, or kimodo dragons here. Just cute and cuddly arctic hares, polar bears, Canadian geese, Canadian meese, and beavers. (Sidenote: Do not cuddle a beaver.)
8. This land is our land. Canada is the second largest country in the world after Russia. It’s big! You can drive from one side to the other in about a week if you floor it and don’t mind putting almost 8,000 clicks on your car. But size helps with other things, too. If you live in a city, it’s easy to get away go camping for a day. If you pee your pants at school, it’s easy to skip town and change your identity.
9. 2 Languages, 2 Distinct Cultures, 2 Legit 2 Quit. Hey, hey! The province of Quebec makes all Canadians richer with French culture smeared coast to coast. There are two official languages so French classes broadens minds while Cirque du Soleil, French films, and delicious foods keep adding to the Canadian identity.
10. It’s full of Canadians. Sure, we’ve got lots of faults like apologizing too much and beating each other senseless in hockey. (Sorry about that.) But Canadians are some of the most peaceful, progressive, and cultured people in the world, if we do say so ourselves. Shaped by waves of new folks (40% of Canadians are first- or second-generation immigrants) the community is inclusive, funny, and polite. Also, Canadians are extremely humble, rarely extolling their virtues in long, meandering essays published online. (Sorry about that.)…