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The Interview: Raptitude’s Readers Ask About All Things Awesome

books of awesome

I don’t remember which Awesome Thing it was that StumbleUpon spat out at me that day — When you get the milk-to-cereal ratio just right maybe — but I stopped Stumbling right there.

This was an interesting site. I browsed the archives, and couldn’t believe what I saw. This man knew me! Every page was something I personally found to be awesome. The smell of rain on a hot sidewalk. Multitasking while brushing your teeth. The sound of a solid crack from a good break in billiards.

How did he know? Or had everybody else silently been enjoying these curious blessings too? If so, why did nobody mention them?

Well, Neil Pasricha mentioned them on 1000 Awesome Things, and the internet rejoiced.

Exactly why we all find it so gratifying to pull a huge gob of lint out of the dryer trap is still mysterious and fascinating to me, and that’s why I’m such a fan. Neil has a keen eye for the unassuming little miracles that bring us all together.

As of today, Neil’s Awesome Things are now in printed form, as The Book of Awesome.

Back in February he and I decided to hold a contest. Send in a question you’d like to ask Neil, and the ones that get chosen get a free, signed copy of The Book of Awesome. I interview Neil with those questions and publish it here on Raptitude.

Well the questions were awesome indeed. And some stellar responses from Neil. Maybe it’s just me, but they seem to hint at something bigger than just celebrity baby names or all-day bedhead.

Thanks to everyone who entered. The winners have been contacted, and here is the interview:


The first question is from Andy, and I’d been wondering it myself:

“Do you already have the 1,000 awesome things noted or are you confident enough in your awesomeness awareness to discover the awesome on the fly?”


First off, I should mention my first idea for the name was 1000000 Awesome Things. You know, with the news all billions of this, millions of that, it just sounded right. But I changed it at the last second to 1000 Awesome Things, and I’m really glad I did.

See, I didn’t exactly do that math, and it wasn’t until a reader emailed me a few weeks into it and said “Buddy, you ain’t gonna finish this thing until 2012” that it actually hit me. Keep in mind this was in June, 2008 that I launched. The idea of writing a post every weekday for four years seemed pretty nuts.

So although I sorta painted out some broad brush-strokes of where I’d like it to go (and by that I mean saved a few handfuls for the finish line) I honestly end up sweating it out most nights before the post goes up. I mean sure, sometimes I’ll write a few in advance, but whenever I do that I always congratulate myself on my brilliant foresight with a solid month of last-minuteness.

“Who is a person who you think, through their actions or attitude, personifies or exemplifies what it means to be awesome?” asks Avi. “I wish I could think of a better question!” he adds.

I dunno, Avi. That seems like a great question to me.

For me awesome is all about 3 A’s.

1) Attitude. Life’s not always pretty — whether it’s buzz saws chopping forests, sea levels rising high, suicide bombers blowing up trains, or unemployment rates zooming sky high, it’s just really heavy. And a lot of us have personal issues on top. I mean, for me over the course the site’s been running I’ve had my best friend take his own life and my wife decide to live hers somewhere else. And I sorta think that we’ve always got an attitude option in dark times: wallow in gloom and doom forever or grieve and face the future with newly sober eyes. Being awesome means you’ve got that moving forward and moving on attitude.

2) Awareness. I love hanging out with three-year-olds. Honestly, I just love the way they see the world — whether it’s staring slack-jawed at their first baseball game, leaning over a caterpillar on the sidewalk, or grabbing a handful of dandelions for the centerpiece at the family dinner. I love how full of wonder they are when they’re seeing the world for the first time. I think being awesome is about seeing the wonder in the little things and just remembering we’re the only species on the only life-giving rock with so many awesome things around us — whether it’s guitar jams, candied hams, foreign architecture, local agriculture, Grandma hugs, or sidewalk slugs.

3) Authenticity. Being you and being cool with it. David’s words on this site always ring true for me on this and I just think it’s so important to being awesome to be comfortable in your own skin. You end up meeting more people who you can relate to, have a great conversation with, and form a connection.

Wait, what was the question again? Oh, right, who’s awesome? That’s easy — Randy “Macho Man” Savage.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yeah.

“Do you think the world will be a better or worse place in 50 years?” asks Phyllis.

I think it will be better.

One thing that’s really struck me since I’ve started this blog is how many of us out there who want it bad.

We want the world to be better. We want to be better. We want to be better friends, kinder parents, gentler kids, and stronger siblings. We want… to push your car out of the snowbank and cheer when the coconut shrimp’s getting refilled at the buffet. We want to smile… when the cashier opens up a new lane at the grocery store, when we wake up and realize there’s a lot of sleep time left, when we put potato chips on a sandwich.

We love life. We do! We love it. We think it’s pretty cool, you know. And this here Internet’s giving us so many new ways to connect and inspire ourselves into finding like-minded individuals, spurring action, and making the world a better place. Look at this site! I love it. David drops brain-bombs on us at Raptitude, people comment earnestly, and David chimes in with thoughtful responses. It’s a happy community — with other people linking here, printing articles there, or simply learning something new that helps them go along their day and gives them a smile.

We’ve got the power, we’ve got the drive, we’ve got the awesome movement and we’re gonna give it a shot. Three cheers for Raptitude, three cheers for the three book winners, and three big hearty cheers on being absolutely… AWESOME!

Thanks everybody. Take care — great questions, and a ton of fun! Neil.

And there you have it. Raptitude’s readers interview Neil Pasricha. Thanks again to Neil and to everyone who entered the contest. The Book of Awesome is available on Amazon and is 50% off at the moment — enjoy.

Have an awesome Thursday — at least as awesome as vacuuming the carpet and hearing all the tiny rocks go through the hose.



macho man randy savage

Macho man photo by stalio

Christopher Kabamba April 15, 2010 at 4:59 am

A great blog 1000AwesomeThings is. If you want to find inspiration in simple things, that is the place to be.
.-= Christopher Kabamba´s last blog ..4 Things Worth Telling Yourself During Tough Times =-.

Jill April 15, 2010 at 5:34 am

I really do admire Neil’s positivity, and how he notices the smaller things in life. It’s great that he came up with the website, because it’s so uplifting to be reminded about the little, wonderful things we’ve all looked past all this time as we’ve been deluded by our self-made problems and materialistic needs. So to David and Neil, thank you for making my day so totally…AWESOME!
.-= Jill ´s last blog ..How To Get Over Crushes =-.

Nate St. Pierre April 15, 2010 at 9:14 am

David, you’re right – the thing that first attracted me to Neil’s stuff was the way he could capture everything that I (we?) secretly find awesome on life, and express it so well.

The idea that life’s not always pretty, and we have a choice in how to respond . . . that’s a theme that comes up a lot for me in what I do (with ItStartsWith.Us). David’s talked about it here, I’ve talked about it on my site, and Neil, now you’re talking about it. It’s just a fact, man. This is a rough world, and bad things happen. All. The. Time. You mentioned your best friend dying and your wife leaving during the course of your project, and very similar things have happened in my life during the course of mine. The way I see it, you have two choices: focus on the pain and on yourself, or continue to turn outwards, focusing on the joy you can give to others and also experience for yourself.

We’re not perfect. No one is. Humans are messy creatures, and we just wade through life, doing the best we can. Hopefully when we’re done, we’ve tried our hardest to improve the situation for those around us, and we’ve had some successes. And where we’ve failed, hopefully we have forgiveness.

A lot of this stuff is really, really emotional. One of the hardest parts of my job is getting so many emails from so many hurting people asking for help, and knowing that I (we) can only help one or two at a time. “And what of the rest?” says my brain. “What of all the people you’re ignoring and leaving behind?”

Those are hard questions for any of us as we go through life. I was talking to the founder of Camp Heartland (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101020812-333891,00.html) the other day – it’s a free camp for HIV-infected and impacted kids each summer, where they have everything they need, and can feel like “normal” kids for a week. It’s a fantastic project, but it’s tough – they lose kids every year – kids how come to camp this summer, but aren’t alive the next. I asked this guy, “You see more than your fair share of pain and suffering in this world. How do you get through that without becoming broken yourself?” His response was pretty cool. He said, “We all see so much pain and suffering in this world. And when we see it, we have choices: we can do nothing, we can do our fair share, or we can do more than our share. I’m choosing to do more than my share, and that’s the best I can do.”

And I guess that’s it. We’re not Superman, so we can’t do it all. But we can do more than our share. And that’s a net gain.

I’m going to try to look at it like this: The more pain I see, the more opportunities I have to help, and the more options I have to choose where I (we) can make the greatest impact. I’m going to try to look at it as an opportunity, and not as a crushing wave of despair.

So anyway, sorry for the long ramble, but Raptitude often gets me thinking that way. Neil, I love what you’re doing, and you always have support from this corner. David, keep on rockin’.

Catch you both later (David, hopefully I’ll be up there this summer).


Positively Present April 15, 2010 at 9:17 am

Wonderful interview! I’m also a huge fan of 1000 Awesome Things and I recently read the book and loved it. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is considering it after reading this post!
.-= Positively Present´s last blog ..it’s a beautiful world: 5 ways to go outside and enjoy it =-.

David April 15, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Thanks everyone. The interview is great but I think the best part of this post is clearly the macho man head in the sky picture.

Nate St. Pierre April 15, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Yeah, I got an actual LOL outta that one.

Avi April 15, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Excellent interview! I think in 50 years the world will be better. And I think it will be worse too. It is the best of times, it is the worst of times; it is the age of wisdom, it is the age of foolishness; we are all going directly to Heaven, we are all going the other way.

Char (PSI Tutor:Mentor) April 17, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Is awesome that Neil is so full of hope for humanity and sees this state in many others.

Macho Man looks constipated~ cool, but blocked up ~:-)

David April 17, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Well when you live on a diet of exclusively Slim Jims, you have to expect some digestive issues.

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