Neil Pasricha is a renowned Canadian Author, Entrepreneur, Podcaster, and Public Speaker advocating for positivity and the simple pleasures that life has to offer. He is best known for ‘The Happiness Equation’ and ‘The Book of Awesome Series’, which are international bestsellers based on his personal experience of overcoming challenges in his life. He is also a famed speaker, and his TEDx talk, ‘The 3 A’s of Awesome’, is currently ranked as the ninth most inspiring TEDx talk with over 3 million views to date.
Neil Pasricha was born in Oshawa, Ontario, to an immigrant family. His mother is originally from Nairobi, Kenya; his father is from Amritsar, India; they shifted to Canada in their early 20’s for better prospects. Pasricha said, “Much of my wonder and amazement for the world comes from my immigrant parents and their perspective on seeing everything for the first time in Canada.” In his Tedx Talk, he speaks about the sheer wonder and excitement his father experienced after reading the name tag on the fruits in the supermarket and finding out that the dates were imported from Morocco, a country he hadn’t heard of, yet he was eating their produce.
Pasricha then went on to study at Queen’s University and Harvard University earning a degree in Business. Pasricha then spent a decade running Leadership Development and working directly for two CEOs at Walmart, the world’s largest company. He was responsible for CEO onboarding, executive development, and talent management across all levels of the organization.
Pasricha had everything working out for him till 2008. He was dealing with a troubled marriage. He said in his Ted Talk, “One day my wife came home from work and summoned the courage through a lot of tears to have a very honest conversation, and she said, ‘I don’t love you anymore.’” Pasricha recalled, “it was one of the most painful things I’ve ever heard. and certainly the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever heard.” He continued, “I later discovered that was indeed not the most heart breaking thing to ever happen to me, just a month later, my very good friend Chris, who had been dealing with mental illness for some time took his life and committed suicide. I was shattered”
Pasricha soon fell into depression and said, “2008 and 2009 were the toughest years for him.” As a countermeasure to get him out of his depression, Pasricha went home from work one day and created a blog dedicated to appreciating and recording the small pleasures that life has to offer — getting a green light on your way home from work, wearing warm briefs straight out of the dryer, being the first table to get called up for the dinner buffet at a wedding or waiters and waitresses who bring free refills without asking.
Starting out, the blog had only one reader – his mom. However soon he saw his blog getting ten hits that went to a dozen, then a hundred, and soon he hit a million.
He soon woke up to a call informing him that he had won the award for The Best Blog In The World. Pasricha did not believe it at first, but a month later, he was on a flight to receive his first Webby, walking down the red carpet and standing with the likes of Sarah Silverman and Jimmy Fallon. Due to his immense success with the blog, he was approached by many literary agents to turn the contents of his blog into a book. The Book of Awesome was published in 2010 and immediately became a #1 international bestseller and a New York Times bestseller.
‘You Are Awesome’ is all about resilience against failures. Pasricha used his life experiences to highlight the secrets to developing resilience in an era of increasing anxiety, depression and loneliness.
In his book, Pasricha explains, “A key part of happiness is learning how to deal with failure. Something the convenience of technology has made people forget.”
“You can press a button these days and a car whisks you home. You have takeout waiting on your front porch. Your cell phone entertains you. We live like kings,” Pasricha said. “But the side effect of living like that is that we no longer have the tools to handle failure or even perceived failure.”
When Pasricha worked at Walmart, part of his job was to help people who were fired pack their belongings and walk them to their cars. After losing their jobs, people often drew the conclusion that their lives were over, he said. But years later, many of them have told him getting fired from the company was a blessing.
“We all catastrophize. We think where we are today is where we’re gonna be forever. Unfortunately, that means if you lost your job or you got dumped or something went bad, you think you’re stuck there,” Pasricha says. “But use the end-of-history illusion to actually reimagine that this could be a step towards a future that you just can’t see yet.”
In an era governed by the internet and social media, people’s mental health is plummeting as it leads to comparisons that eventually leads to envy and disdain.
“No matter how good the lunch you and I have together today, somebody’s at a lobster buffet in the Maldives on Instagram. So you are in a permanent state of anxiety because you can’t win anymore,” Pasricha said. “You’re comparing everybody else’s greatest hits with your director’s cut life.”
Pasricha explained his philosophy of people should fail more often to succeed; he said, “A recent study showed that [many] Nobel Prize winners are also amateurs at entirely unrelated disciplines. They’re amateur ballroom dancers or amateur photographers. The researchers found that when you do more things, you open your mind to being successful in the things you already do. A good example is Steve Jobs doing calligraphy at Reed College and how that affected the typography that went into Apple computers.
People should try a new hobby every Saturday. Don’t just play one sport; play eight. Always have something new that you are doing and sucking at because that will dramatically accelerate your learning rate.”
In conclusion, Pasricha said, “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 live every minute making memories that you will cherish for a lifetime.