People want to feel good—lighter, freer, happier—especially these days, as rates of depression, anxiety, loneliness and suicide have soared worldwide in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020, the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety and depression both skyrocketed by 25%, according to the World Health Organization. Those rates remain high, per the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, which notes that generalized anxiety disorder alone affects 6.8 million U.S. adults. Meanwhile, the Roots of Loneliness Project reports that more than half of all Americans feel lonely.
"We're looking for happiness because we know we don't have it right now," says Neil Pasricha, New York Times bestselling author, acclaimed TED speaker, prolific blogger and former director of leadership development at Walmart.
Pasricha now specializes in helping people live with more intention, an approach that calls for gratitude, happiness, failure, resilience, connection and trust. Given the state of the world's mental health, he says an authentic discussion on happiness—and how to achieve it—is "a critical and important conversation" society needs to conduct right now.
Well, what better venue to do that than Natural Products Expo West? Pasricha will explore the true path to happiness and share tools for cultivating it in his keynote address at 9 a.m. Thursday, March 9, in the Marquis Ballroom at the Marriott.
Just what is happiness? That's a theoretical quagmire Pasricha won't address in his talk. "It's a never-ending conversation," he says, adding that happiness is too subjective to try to define in an hour. He'd rather focus on providing tools that, when practiced consistently, can create positive outcomes.
But first, Pasricha will reframe the path people have been told leads to happiness. That model teaches that doing great work generates success, which creates happiness—but Pasricha believes this is "totally backwards." Instead, it works in reverse: Start with happiness, then do great work, then achieve big success.
But reaching those high points requires cultivating happiness, which each person must commit to, just as they would any other healthy habit or self-care practice. "We haven't yet evolved to the same level of conversation for our mental health," Pasricha explains. "We haven't decided to treat happiness as something to invest in."
Pasricha's work pushes people to change that view. But any new efforts must be "short, simple, actionable"—and those characteristics are critical. Happiness gurus often recommend meditating, journaling, communing with nature and other daily activities that, while valuable, don't necessarily fit into most peoples' schedules.
So instead of delivering more time-consuming advice that would set up most people for failure, Pasricha will teach Expo West attendees three short practices. "They can do [these] in two minutes a day or less to help cultivate a positive mindset," he says.
Pasricha hopes his message will excite attendees and also give them lasting kernels they will turn to on a consistent basis. His overarching goal is to hand them information that will improve not only their own lives but those of their loved ones too.
"When people fly home, they're going to be reconnecting with the anxious son, the stressed-out spouse, the depressed parent, the college-applying daughter with depression," Pasricha says. "I'm hoping I can give you some practices you can do with them. … This has the potential to shift the energy of your whole family."
Don't miss Neil Pasricha's keynote at 9 a.m. PT, Thursday, March 9, at the Marquis Center at the Marriott. This event will be livestreamed as well. Find the Expo West agenda, floor plans and more at ExpoWest.com. To see registration options, including those for virtual access, click here.