Depressed by reading bad news daily and dealing with his failing marriage, Canadian Neil Pasricha decided to try to focus on the positive and come up with 1,000 simple, free, awesome things, posting one each day on a blog.
Pasricha said his blog, 1,000 Awesome Things, aimed to highlight life's simple pleasures often taken for granted, such as finding forgotten money in a pocket or putting on underwear straight from the dryer.
Little did he realize his blog would strike a nerve and attract 40,000 people daily to join his discussions on how to enjoy the last triangle of a potato chip at the bottom of the bag or the pleasure of laughing so hard that you cry.
Pasricha, 30, who works in human resources in Toronto, was amazed to win two Webby awards, which are known as "the Oscars of the Internet," at the same time that his marriage broke up and one of his closest friends committed suicide.
Then, amid his personal dramas and woes of a economic crisis, he also sealed a book deal, with "The Book of Awesome" containing 200 of his awesome things due out this week.
"I turned the worst year of my life into my best year by focusing on the positive. On Amazon I am ranked higher than the Dalai Lama and I think it is a sign that people want optimism to come back," Pasricha told Reuters in a telephone interview.
"Every day I try to find something that is awesome, free and universal to share like popping bubble wrap, the smell of a bakery or when a cashier opens up a new lane at a store."
Pasricha said when he began his blog in June 2008, he thought he might have trouble coming up with 1,000 simple, awesome moments in life, but now he is more than halfway through and ideas keep flooding in, from himself and from followers of his blog.
"The idea of having a countdown of great things is almost as cliche as you can get but I was trying to define a new nuance of awesome — things we know are awesome but we just don't say out loud or talk to other people about," he said, citing the example of the satisfying final few seconds of untangling a tricky knot.
"These moments can start a huge conversation. Most of our life is really about hitting green lights on the way home from or waking up before your alarm goes off and realizing you have more time in bed but it is those small moments we forget about."
Despite the success of his blog and the release of his book, Pasricha said he has no intentions of changing his daily life.
"I commute an hour a day to a job in the suburbs and I work in a cubicle," he said. "I like work because I like the people I work with. I'm not a writer and I don't know how to use a semicolon. I just like observing the world and documenting it."