Neil Pasricha’s You Are Awesome Book Review

You Are Awesome. How to Navigate Change, Wrestle with Failure, and Live an Intentional Life

Disclaimer: I received an advance reader copy, in exchange for an honest review. So here’s my You Are Awesome book review.

Of course, not everything in You Are Awesome will resonate to all of us individually – ad it’s perfectly normal. We relate best to the things we have had a personal experience with.

Though libraries are flooded self-help books, there’s something out there for everyone. You Are Awesome will most probably be a treasure cove of advice for people in their 20s, but hey, take my subjective opionion with a grain of salt. It may just be the book you were waiting for.

Here are my personal ramblings – the You Are Awesome book review:

The Resilience Parable

A farmer had only one horse. One day, his horse ran away.

His neighbors said, “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.”

The man just said, “We’ll see.”

A few days later, his horse came back with twenty wild horses following. The man and his son corralled all twenty-one horses.

His neighbors said, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!”

The man just said, “We’ll see.”

One of the wild horses kicked the man’s only son, breaking both his legs.

His neighbors said, “I’m so sorry. This is such bad news. You must be so upset.”

The man just said, “We’ll see.”

The country went to war, and every able-bodied young man was drafted to fight. The war was terrible and killed every young man, but the farmer’s son was spared since his broken legs prevented him from being drafted.

His neighbors said, “Congratulations! This is such good news. You must be so happy!”

The man just said, “We’ll see . . .”

One Word: Resilience

This is how Neil starts his book, then summarises th parable:

“The farmer has come to understand that every skyrocketing pleasure or stomach-churning defeat defines not who he is but simply where he is… The farmer knows every end is a beginning.”

Why? Because resilience is a skill we now have in very short supply. The way he puts it “we are living in a world where we no longer bend—we break. When we spill, we splatter. When we crack, we shatter.”

The book is structured into 9 sections (or Secrets) spread into several chapters each, and Neil provides great examples, to help contextualize a series of concepts. The exapmles are great because they are all very relatable – we can all find bits of ourselves in the powerful fife stories he’s sharing with us.

We learn about his mother, the youngest daughter in a family of 8 children, raised in a patriarchal Kenyan society where women were a burden for the family, and weren’t seen as intellectually valuable

His mother, who took the government’s standard National Exam, got the highest marks in the country, and won a scholarship in England!

She “got past the dot dot dot” but almost got stuck afterwards, feeling like she didn’t belong.

How many times have you gotten past a period and then just wanted to call it quits?We’ve all felt that Impostor syndrome kicking us in the rear at some point in our lives.

Research has shown that women commonly face the impostor phenomenon regarding their own professional performance. For men, the impostor phenomenon is often driven by a fear of being unsuccessful, or not good enough.

Either way, the pain is real. His advice for when you get stuck is amazingly light bulb simple:  What if you add a dot-dot-dot and keep your options open instead?

“There is power in moving slowly through the motions. There is power in letting the story continue.”

Life’s a Journey. Dot Dot Dot

The author goes on talking about her mother’s progress and halts, the many dots grouped together or standing alone at the crossroads, how her father died and the country’s political unrest, how she was married into Canada after meeting her husband once, how she went with the crowd…

How was she surviving?! And better yet: how was she thriving?!

She was keeping her options open. Adding a dot-dot-dot to the end of the sentence. Letting things happen so she could navigate forward from a position of strength rather than feeling like all her doors had closed.

You Are Awesome goes on talking about the importance of keeping your options open, which in itself has become a modern-day disease (FOMO anyone?) It’s a curious thing, keeping your options open: “The threat of unavailability does make the heart grow fonder.”

Read On…

I could tell you all about the different life lessons covered in the pages of You Are Awesome, but let’s face it. A 2000 word book review will never do any justice to the content of a book, nor the style of an author.

This is a book you want to read.

I’ll give you four takeaways instead.

  1. Resilience is a true skill, and we should all aim to master it.
  2. In the constant pursuit of happiness, we need to change the way we see failure, and make it a constant learning experience.
  3. Everyone hits rock bottom at some point. All of us. That in itself is not important – what’s important is how you pick up your pieces and get back up. Kintsugi, people. Kintsugi.
  4. YET is a magical word. YET is the word you’ll want to add to any sentence that you start with “I can’t,” “I’m not,” or “I don’t.”

P.S.: Mark Manson’s book The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck tackles some of the aspects of failure and resilience that Neil also talks about. His don’t give a f**k attitude may resonate with some of you as well.

Have you read the book yet? I’m curious in hearing your You Are Awesome book review: what did you like/not like?

A Borneo Readathon : Stranger in the Forest
Tai Pan Book Review : The Founding of Hong Kong as described by J. Clavell