Author and speaker Neil Pasricha spoke at a Rotary event at the Sheraton Hotel in Red Deer Friday. (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate Staff)

Author spreads the message of Awesome

Neil Pasricha hopes he can encourage others to notice the awesome in everyday, little things.

The bestselling author of The Book of Awesome and The Happiness Equation spoke to a crowd of 700 students and teachers from Red Deer middle schools at the Sheraton on Friday as part of the Rotary’s District 5360, Strength in Numbers conference.

Neil Berg, Governor of Rotary District 5360, who has read Pasricha’s books, said having the author speak was a great opportunity.

“The legacy we wanted to leave is the message of positive mental well being, mental health and happiness and ultimately suicide prevention,” said Berg. ‘We wanted a vehicle to show more people what Rotary is, what we do and care about. This piece will hopefully help leave that legacy.”

The students picked Pasricha’s brain about coping strategies for stress and how to deal with a friend with suicidal thoughts.

‘Take care of yourself first,” he suggested.

He uses the metaphor of oxygen masks on an airplane.

“Any parent will tell you, that’s impossible to do, their instinct is to help a kid, but the reason you should help yourself first otherwise you are no use to anyone else. As intuitive as it sounds, if you got a friend that’s stressed the first instinct is to stay awake and text them all night to make sure they’re okay but my advice is to take care of yourself first.”

Happiness is within reach

He explained that taking care of yourself entails, sleeping, exercising, adding that some of the stress people experience now a days comes largely from cellphones.

“Technology companies have designed everything on your phone to be addictive. It sends you alerts, texts, how awesome do you feel when you see 17 texts waiting? ‘I’m so popular’ 17 people want to talk to me….I have my phone set on airplane mode, so I can turn that phone into a device that I control.”

He says social media is also leading to stress levels in adults of all ages.

“You’re looking at everyone else’s greatest hits, the great dinner they’re eating or the awesome concert they’re at and you’re not at, comparison is at the root of a lot of our anxieties.”

Pasricha wrapped up by encouraging students to take control of their attitude and go forward taking care of themselves and supporting one another.

“You can decide how to feel at the start of your day. Research actually has shown we get to choose 40 per cent of our positivity. We grow up thinking the glass is half full or half empty but the truth is the glass is refillable. It’s all how you control your attitude.”

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