PLUM EXCLUSIVE: An Article for Indigo By Neil Pasricha

Read a bonus excerpt from the book

How to Get a Little Bit Tougher in Just 2 Minutes a Day

In my late 20s, my wife told me she didn’t love me anymore and asked me for a divorce.

A few days later I lost one of my best friends from a suicide.

I was in complete shock and ended up losing a lot of weight suddenly due to stress.

People at work would ask me “What’s your secret? Is this keto?” and I’d say “No, it’s just no food, no sleep.” I had the raccoon eyes and dazed zombie look to prove it, too.

My parents got worried so they put me in touch with a therapist. I had never seen a therapist before and didn’t want to start. I thought they were for people with serious problems! But then when I started seeing one I basically bounced off the walls in jubilation after each session.


Well, therapy helped because it allowed me to spill my thoughts—my anxious thoughts, my bizarre thoughts, my wild thoughts—whether they made sense or not. And my body felt the high of that crystallization and ejection. That mental orgasm!

The process helped me sort, clarify, and confirm my feelings.

And that ultimately helped me get tougher and move forward.

I gained confidence to move out on my own, eventually begin dating again, and slowly, after working through a ton of confidence issues … meet someone new who I fell in love with.

Very few of us have any kind of practice where we speak to a pro about our thoughts or where we do something proactive to help ourselves process them.

Therapy is great!

But it is hard to access. Long waiting lists in the public system. High costs in the private system. Never mind the cultural or social stigmas.

I still go to therapy today and always recommend it but I’ve also developed a simple science-backed tool that I start my day with to get some benefits of therapy in a simple two-minute practice.

How does it work?

Every morning I grab an index card, journal, or a copy of Two-Minute Mornings, and answer three prompts:

I will let go of…

I am grateful for…

I will focus on…

I do this every morning.

For example today I wrote:

I will let go of… stressing about the rankings for my podcast 3 Books

I am grateful for … Kevin Marusic’s Staff Picks at the Indigo Mount Sinai

I will focus on … signing copies of You Are Awesome at Indigo Oshawa Centre and Indigo Yonge & Eglinton

(And yes I knew I would be writing an article for Indigo today!)

This simple process takes only two minutes to do and it will help your mind toughen and ready itself up for the day.

Why does it work?

For the first prompt:

“I will let go of…”

Research published in Science magazine by neuroscientists Stefanie Brassen and her colleagues called “Don’t Look Back in Anger!: Responsiveness to Missed Chances in Successful and Nonsuccessful Aging,” shows that minimizing regrets as we age creates greater contentment and happiness.

The research also shows that holding on to regrets causes us to take more aggressive and risky actions in the future.

So the strongest and happiest people are aware of regrets they harbor and then choose to let them go.

What does that mean?

Well, it means, crazy as it sounds, whenever we write out our little anxieties, they disappear.

I will let go of … the five pounds of blubber on my stomach

I will let go of… stressing about my kid’s school applications

I will let go of … the snarky email I sent last night at 11pm.

Want to know what happens when I flip back in my journal weeks later? “Oh,” I think to myself. “What snarky email was I worried about again?” I often can’t even remember what the cause for concern was.

What about big stresses? Bigger stressed? Say your mom is sick. Gravely ill. These may be her final days.

Will the two-minute morning practice still help? Yes. It will.

Because you’re saying it, you’re moving it, you’re processing it, you’re admitting how you feel about it, so the heaviness can be examined and acknowledged.

For the second prompt: “I am grateful for…”

Research by professors Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough show that if you write down five gratitudes a week, you’ll be measurably happier and even physically healthier over a ten-week period.

You are really helping your brain build stronger neural pathways towards the positive rather than the negative places our minds naturally want to go.

And the more specific, the better. Writing down “family, food, and job” or something similarly vague over and over doesn’t cause any spike in happiness. It to be specific! For me this practice is a carry-over from The Book of Awesome a few years ago.

Take the example I just mentioned about your mom being gravely ill, even.

Writing down gratitudes will force your brain to find little positives even amid a bigger negative situation.

“I got to read my mom the book she read to me when I was a kid.”

“When Nurse Jasmine brought me a coffee.”

“My kids all came home for the weekend for the first time this year.”

It’s a simple practice that allows for a quick therapeutic strengthening and little moment of presence from our future-focused minds.

And now, finally, the last prompt:

What does “I will focus on…” help us do?

Well, one thing that causes anxiety is your gigantic “could do” or “should do” list that you face every morning.

So the last prompt helps you get stronger by stripping away the endless list of things you could do and focus on the things you will do.


Because if you don’t you will mentally revisit your could-do list all day long. And that will only cause decision fatigue.

Decision-making uses a particularly complex part of the brain and we’re wasting energy anytime we’re unfocused.

As Florida State professor of psychology Roy Baumeister and New York Times journalist John Tierney said in Willpower: Rediscovering The Greatest Human Strength, “Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue—you’re not consciously aware of being tired—but you’re low on mental energy.”

This simple two-minute morning practice helps developing mental toughness right before you get out of bed.

I will let go of… helps avoid revisiting a worry throughout the day.

I am grateful for… helps be more positive every day.

I will focus on… keeps your attention on a big goal.

Do this every day and I guarantee that you’ll find that less things bother you, your mood becomes improved overall, and you will become a little bit tougher.

You Are Awesome: How To Navigate Change, Wrestle With Failure, And Live An Intentional Life
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An instant #1 international bestseller! From Neil Pasricha— New York Times , million-copy bestselling author of The Book of Awesome series and The Happiness Equation , thought leader for the next generation, and one of the most popular TED speakers in the…