Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Book of Awesome

What’s there to be happy about? Simple, snow days, high-fiving babies, finding money in your pocket and so much more. After walking past The Book of Awesome, by Neil Pasricha, several weeks in a row, I decided that it was time to dive in and indulge myself. This book is funny, sweet, and filled with just enough nostalgia-laced goodness to bring out your own inner Pollyanna.

Daily life in the twenty-first century can be overwhelming. Between work, school, kids, payments and, not to mention trying to have a social life, things can become very stressful and bland. Throw into the mix issues of global warming and a strangled economy, and it becomes almost too much to bear. No wonder we seek solace in the tiny triumphs of life: in our own small successes and in the personal interactions, the soothing sights, the tempting tastes, and the sensational smells we find in the world around us. In this adaptation of his blog '1000 Awesome Things', Pasricha celebrates the simple pleasures of everyday living, resulting in an encyclopedia of joy. Focusing on both tangible pleasures and simple experiences, Pasricha provides a contemporary take on everyday inspiration. Some moments are silly, some poignant, some nostalgic-but everything is familiar. Pasricha emerges a committed but inviting optimist, combating life's unending stream of bad news by identifying opportunities to "share a universal high five with humanity."

The Book of Awesome is the kind of book that you can scan through quickly. You can catch the headlines and say "Yes!" to particular ones. Or you can take a single lovely, rainy weekend to devour this volume from cover to cover. Keep it on your bedside or coffee table for a quick pick-me-up. Read passages aloud to a living room full of friends, and your group will come up with even more possibilities. You don't have to agree with all of the entries. Just keep turning pages, and it won't be too long before you find several more Awesome Things that you can relate to. Little things, it turns out, are extremely important to happiness, and The Book of Awesome will remind you of a thousand little things that will make you happier.

As I mentioned, some things in The Book of Awesome didn't really apply to me. Because of where and when I was born, there were many things that were somewhat unfamiliar to me and my experiences. Although I could appreciate them, they did not resonate anything, so it was extra awesome when something came along that I completely understood. Some of my favorite awesome things are: the moment at a concert after the lights go out and before the band comes onstage, bakery air, peeling an orange in one shot (or even better, a grapefruit), using all the different shampoos and soaps in someone else's shower, the smell of rain on a hot sidewalk, and the sound it makes from inside a tent, the moment at a restaurant after you see your food coming out of the kitchen but before it lands on your table, laughing so hard you make no sound at all, bowling celebrations (AKA celebratory dancing), sleeping with one leg in the covers and one leg out, remembering what movie that guy is from, the smell of books, snow falling on Christmas eve, building an amazon couch cushion fort, and last but not least, squeezing through a door as it's shutting without touching it. I have experienced each and everyone of these things, and I'm glad to say that they have all brought a little bit more happiness into my life.

Since finishing The Book of Awesome, I have noticed myself reveling in the small things, and allowing the childlike splendor of them to wash a smile onto my face. Now when I notice myself multi-tasking while brushing my teeth, or hanging my hand out the car window, I really do relish in the small opportunity to enjoy the moment, knowing that is simply awesome.

My tip for this book is to visit Pasricha's website, www.1000awesomethings.com. The book includes only a couple hundred awesome things, but you will playfully discover hundreds more, as well as see readers comments and their shared experiences and memories. And second, I dare you to read this book without compiling your own list of awesome things to add. Maybe take the time to acknowledge something when it makes you smile, or get together with some friends and make a game out of it, but either way, keep the awesome train running, for it will bring little bursts of joy to your day

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