Neil Pasricha (photo submitted).

Red Deer Rotary Club speaker Neil Pasricha believes happiness is within reach

Author of The Book of Awesome will talk in Red Deer on May 5

Happiness is eluding many youths, even as their “friends” count grows on Facebook and Instagram.

Canadian author Neil Pasricha, author of The Book of Awesome and The Happiness Equation, believes that’s because social media doesn’t bring satisfaction. And neither does achievement nor success, despite what many children are led to believe, he added.

In fact, the Toronto-based motivational speaker, who was invited by Red Deer’s Rotary Club to address a public luncheon on Friday, May 5, at the Sheraton Hotel, believe the real equation for happiness is the opposite of what children learn — that hard work plus success equals happiness.

Pasricha believes everyone needs to find happiness at the outset, or all their hard work and accolades will feel meaningless.

The author, who will also speak to about 700 Grade 8 Red Deer public schools students this week, is concerned suicides among youths and adults continue to outnumber homicides by a two-to-one ratio. Although Pasricha, who holds a Harvard MBA, is a best-selling author, award-winning blogger and popular TED speaker, he was also once very unhappy.

His best friend killed himself six years ago — around the time Pasricha’s first marriage was breaking up. To jog himself out of intense sadness, he began writing down a few “awesome” things every day. He turned this into a blog — 1,000 Awesome Things, which went viral and earned a Webby Award after getting 50-million site visits.

Pasricha, who has since remarried and become a father, began researching psychological studies. He found that about half of a person’s ability to be happy is genetically programmed, while 10 per cent results from happy circumstances.

The remaining 40 per cent is based on either having an intentional happy mindset, or the willingness to get involved in happiness-generating activities, said Pasricha, who believes this is within everyone’s reach.

“It isn’t a matter of if your glass is half empty or half full, but that it’s refillable.”

Among the things that he believes stirs happiness are gratitude lists and connecting with friends – face to face.

He finds it telling that many parents who work in electronics and social media are the strictest about keeping it away from their children. He keeps his own phone in airplane mode, except when checking for messages. Pasricha also strongly believes in turning electronic screens off an hour before bedtime because the bright light blocks melatonin production, resulting in poor sleep, more anxiety and depression.

“I think we’re starting to see a turning point” in society’s fervid interest in technology, said the author, who’s noticed real books are beating eBook sales.

Tickets to the 11:30 a.m. luncheon at Red Deer’s Sheraton Hotel are available from www.eventbrite.ca

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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