An awakening worth living

During my senior year of high school, we did a project in English where we would evaluate TED talks. We gave short presentations on the few that we chose. It was an interesting and enjoyable topic, and each of the speeches I chose truly struck a chord with me.

One discussed the importance of hand washing, another on the art of listening, but one stuck out from the rest. The first talk I did was called “1000 Awesome Things.” The speaker Neil Pasricha told of his journey with writing the blog of the same name.
Pasricha began the project after his best friend committed suicide and his wife divorced him all in the same month. He fell into a few months of depression in which he knew he needed to escape, but couldn’t figure out what could draw him out. He started to identify with menial things like flossing, illegal naps, rain hair, snow days and bakery air.

The aspect I remember most from his speech was his poetic nature. When he wasn’t discussing his parents or his dark days, his word rhymed just enough to make them flow but not so much that it was overdone. I didn’t want it to end.

After I first viewed the talk, I immediately subscribed to the blog. I’m not one to subscribe to anything, but I knew this was something I needed every day. I made it a routine to check my email each morning and read today’s awesome thing.

It’s been over a year now, and I still look forward to reading of today’s small joys. It started in 2008, the posts aren’t always as awesome as when they started, but it still makes you stop and reflect on the little things. I’m always trying to be a more positive person, but sometimes that’s a challenge.

People may have hit highs and lows in life. It’s funny how they can come on without reason or warning. You can have these wonderfully perfect days where the sun shines and everything falls into place. The test day was canceled when you didn’t get to study as much as you would’ve liked. You woke up hours before your alarm and relished in the chance to snuggle back under the covers.

Three of your favorite songs came on the radio in succession. The little things make life worth it.

But, some days are just plain bad days, where you may not necessarily be angry and nothing goes wrong, but you’re feeling down. Simply, you’re just sad. You go through your day with little emotion and sometimes it hurts to smile. Having the dark days is good because you can’t have the sweet without the sour. The sour days make the sweeter days that much better, and making those better days meaningful creates bearable grim days.

A simple way to ebb away the negative emotions is to identify the charming things in life; when kids help each other across the street, or when you take the bite with all the toppings on it or when someone compliments you in front of someone you like. When you receive the first text message from a new friend, or even when you realize this weekend is a three-day weekend. And when you’re recognized for doing something you love.

Learning to appreciate life’s daily wonders will be a step into a more positive psychology, where you can focus on things and situations that promote happiness. Having an optimistic outlook on life can strengthen your immune system by seeing problems as temporary and specific rather than catastrophic and permanent.