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Taking the steps to happiness ‘Awesome’ motivational speaker spreads positive message to the community

Neil Pasricha, author and motivational speaker, speaks to an audience of about 200 people last Thursday in the Texas Southmost College Arts Center in Brownsville. He spoke about achieving happiness using “The 3 A’s of Awesome.” OSCAR CASTILLO/ THE RIDER

Neil Pasricha said one day his first wife asked for a divorce and a few days later his best friend committed suicide while battling a mental illness.

“One day I was driving home from work and said, ‘I need to focus on something positive, somehow. Just give me a break from all this death and destruction all around me,’”

Pasricha said. “I got home from work and typed ‘how to start a blog,’ into Google and I pressed the ‘I’m feeling lucky’ button, that nobody ever presses, and 10 minutes later I started a tiny website called 1000awesomethings.com.”

His “tiny website” became an award-winning blog, which led to his first book, “The Book of Awesome,” a No. 1 international bestseller. The book “isn’t about one man’s favorite things, but rather a catalog of the universal little pleasures we all share,” according to the author’s website.

The author and motivational speaker addressed more than 200 people Thursday night in the Texas Southmost College Arts Center in Brownsville.Pasricha is the semester’s first speaker in the UTRGV Distinguished Speaker Series and the first to visit Brownsville.

“We have such a short time to appreciate it and enjoy it all,” he said about life.

Pasricha said living a happy life leads to a longer life, and the way to achieve that is through “The 3 A’s of Awesome,” attitude, awareness and action.

He read numerous studies and TED Talk speeches and reached the conclusion that the attitude aspect of the three A’s can be changed using the “Big 5 Superstudies” which are

–going for a 20-minute walk three times a week;

–writing down what makes you happy in a day;

–doing random acts of kindness for others;

–meditating 20 minutes each day; and

–saying five things you are grateful for once a week.

Awareness is how a 3-year-old sees the world for the first time. Parischa said that people should see the world like that in order to experience true happiness.

For the action aspect of the three A’s, he said that instead of focusing on finding motivation to do a task–in his case, learning how to swim–he recommends jumping in and finding the motivation you need in that task.


During a book signing after the lecture, Pasricha told The Rider that he wants people to know that they are already awesome and don’t need him to tell them that.

Carlos Cisneros, a junior at Veterans Memorial High School in Brownsville, said he recently lost an all-state choir competition and felt he needed positivity in his life.

“Recently, I, myself have been having some struggle being happy because I had a defeat in a competition and my parents were like, ‘You know what? There’s this guy, he is a very accomplished guy. We’ve read his books before, we think you’d really like him,’” Carlos said. “They said it would be a good opportunity, and I came over here and I didn’t feel like, ‘Oh, I’ve already heard the same things before,positivity and everything.’ His tips and his process for being happy really did show me a light at the end of the tunnel and thinking, ‘You know, there is more to life than some little things that don’t really matter as much. There’s more things to be happy about, to be thankful for.’”

Provost Havidán Rodríguez was among the audience members who heard Pasricha’s message of positivity. He said he hopes to have more events like this that spread a positive message throughout the campus and the community.

“We selected him due to his positive message,” Cindy Mata, director of Student Activities, said about Pasricha.

“‘The 3 A’s of Awesome,’ TED Talk really spoke to us. Like, it really resonated with our committee.”

The Distinguished Speaker Series is a signature program that was carried over to UTRGV from legacy institution UT Pan American.

Mata said the purpose of the series is to bring outstanding speakers with diverse backgrounds to the Rio Grande Valley.

“I hope students enjoy it, enjoy the speakers, and that they come out and join us for the speeches and lectures,” she said. “This is done for them. … We do want to offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences for our students, faculty and staff, and through the series, it’s one way of bringing these high-caliber speakers, world-class speakers, really, to our community in South Texas.”

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, will be featured in the next Distinguished Speaker Series, scheduled April 12 on the Edinburg campus.

For more information, call the Office of Student Activities at 882-5111.

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