Neil Pasricha remembers the old formula for success: Study hard, get straight As, go to a great college, work hard, and get promoted so you can make a bunch of money and achieve happiness. Pasricha doesn’t quibble with elements of that premise. He’d simply flip the equation on its head.
“That model’s actually the opposite,” he says. “It’s not ‘great work leads to big success, which leads you to be happy.’ It’s ‘being happy leads to great work, which leads to big success.’”
The road to that realization presented itself for Pasricha only after he experienced great personal distress.
In 2008, he started the blog “1,000 Awesome Things” on impulse after his wife told him she wanted a divorce and his best friend committed suicide following a lengthy bout with mental illness.
Begun primarily as a salve for his own despondence, Pasricha’s steady stream of simple, free, universal pleasures soon attracted a massive audience.
From his initial post examining the oddities of the broccoflower to essays celebrating old, dangerous playground equipment, flipping to the cool side of the pillow in the middle of the night, and waking up to realize it’s Saturday, Pasricha captured everyday joys we too often overlook.
“If you can see the value in simple things, then it will be simple to be happy,” Pasricha says.
That principle applies to the workplace, where we spend so much of our lives—often unhappily. Studies indicate seven of eight employees don’t enjoy their jobs, he notes.
Over the last decade, he strived to disrupt that ratio while serving in a leadership development role at Walmart.
Through on-the-job experiences and a deep dive into psychology research, Pasricha discovered people can choose to be happy—and that happier people not only perform better in the workplace but also engender positivity among their co-workers, breeding still more success.
Recently, Pasricha left Walmart to co-found the Institute for Global Happiness, which produces organizational resources to inspire employees.
And on the heels of four successful iterations of the “Book of Awesome” series, Pasricha recently published “The Happiness Equation,” a 300-page open letter to his then-unborn child detailing nine secrets to living a happy life.
“The biggest thing I learned from this process is that the glass isn’t half-full or half-empty. In fact, the glass is refillable,” he says. “I gave myself permission to think of my happiness as something I could pour into myself. It might not be easy, but the concept has inspired me personally and taught me a lot about how to turn a bad day into a good one.”For more from Pasricha, listen to a recent interview with him on the CUNA News Podcast.