How to Live an Awesome Life

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Let’s be honest – a book with the title How to Live an Awesome Life is a no-brainer, as who doesn’t want an awesome life? But let’s delve a bit deeper, and see why you need this book, and what author Polly Campbell means by living an awesome life.

How to Live an Awesome Life - an interview with author Polly Campbell

Inundated by busyness in our lives, it’s important to step back and reflect upon our choices, and how we can improve our lives. This is lifelong learning at its best! Whether it is career-related, parenting, relationships, travel, education, or anything we want to work on, a little clarity and assistance is always welcome. 

And Campbell delivers - How to Live an Awesome Life is a very thoughtful book, full of intriguing things to ponder, questions that can bring startling clarity to situations that may have puzzled you, and understandable, comprehensive direction for you to make choices in this over-connected, crazy busy, at times less-than-awesome world. 

How to Live an Awesome Life includes chapters on becoming aware of awesome, creating your experience, getting real, pushing your potential, going for it, living with passion and purpose, tapping into the energy of awesome, falling with panache, accessing the awesomeness of others, creating an atmosphere of awesome, the awesome uncertainty, and living an awesome life. I will be honest – some of the ideas in this book are so big that you might need to read a chapter and then reflect upon it for a few days. This is one book that you don’t want to skim, but rather, dig deeply and let it lead you to a life filled with awesomeness.

Here’s the thing: Campbell is an awesome guide – she clearly outlines her points (using very human and relatable examples), and then gently brings you to think about various aspects of them, through questions, exercises, and space for consideration. Do you want to go live and volunteer abroad? Put that aspect in the forefront of your mind as you envision your life through reading this book. Do you want to create a more balanced life, disconnecting from constant work and connecting more with family? Use that as your frame, as you dive into the concepts of this book. Aren’t sure where to start? Read this book with an open mind – the potential for awesomeness in your life will pop up. Somehow, wherever you are in your life journey, this book will bring a new clarity to the way you choose to live life – and do it awesomely.

I find myself recommending How to Live an Awesome Life to just about everyone I am in contact with. It’s that thought-provoking and life-changing. I have bookmarked so many pages that the poor paperback is almost double its original size – truly, the goodness here is overflowing. Highly recommended.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Campbell, and ask her about the book, inspiration, tips on living an awesome life, and more. Here’s what she had to say…

an interview with Polly Campbell, author of How to Live an Awesome Life

Please tell us about your book, How to Live an Awesome Life...

How to Live an Awesome Life is really about finding the best, the awe, in each moment and each experience. It’s about elevating your life, not by changing the life you are living but by changing how you notice and experience the life you are living.

This requires creativity, curiosity, resilience, energy, love – fortunately those are the traits we already have. We are all wired to create and be strong, to love and be curious. Awe also requires a willingness to use all these tools to engage and participate in every moment. To show up, even when you are afraid or uncertain. And, when we do, we find the goodness that lurks there, too. This is awesome and that makes it easier, kinder, safer to show up and live in a big way.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’m a wife and mother and cat-litter changer and writer, and my life often feels like an episode out of a T.V. sitcom without the laugh track. I live with chronic disease, rheumatoid arthritis. I love to stay up too late reading, which sometimes makes me tired and grouchy the next day. I sometimes feel stressed when I’ve got to figure out how to pay the bills. This is the reality of my life, but at the very same time, in these same moments, I love my life. 

I had to learn how to do that. I had to learn how to deviate from this negativity bias we are wired with to become more aware of the goodness that is right here at the same time. And, I had to find practical ways of doing that. 

I came across a study that talked about awe as a way to elevate your life and I was hooked. 

What might readers be surprised to learn about your book – and living  an awesome life?

That we can experience awe in the everyday moments. You don’t have to climb a mountain or stare at an ocean or jump from a plane to experience awe. It is here, right now, in how we relate to each other, what we take in from the view outside our window, the food we eat, the heart beating in our chests. It is within us and all we must do is notice. When we do, it elevates everything. 

Awe improves our health, our relationships, our experience. It fosters connection, eases  stress, improves our health, boosts well-being, fuels curiosity. It literally changes how we experience our life. 

How can educators utilize this book and its concepts in their classes and teaching?

I love that we can teach our kids this stuff, that we can share this with families and teachers and others who will then carry this message into the world, because I honestly believe this is how we foster peace and connection and compassion among all people. This is how we as individuals can feel better and happier and calmer so when we have that, it also what we have to share. This is the route to world peace. 

At its root, awe is about awareness, curiosity, and wonder. But those things feel dangerous to many of us. Wonder and curiosity often inspire innovation and experimentation and creativity – and then there is a big risk of failure. We are scared away from these things by our own needs to fit in and belong.

But, what if we were taught how to be curious? What if we were taught how to daydream and wonder and explore? What if we were rewarded for being the first with a plausible answer, rather than the first with the right answer?

Some things worth trying: 

A.    Have a day Perfectly Imperfect Day where the person with the craziest ideas gets the attention.

How to Live an Awesome Life

B. Challenge your students to look at the familiar things differently and note how many new details they discover. There are many ways of looking at the world, and when we raise flexible thinkers, they get to see all of them - and that includes all things awesome. 

C. Promote a growth mindset and teach students their own capacity for growth and improvement is based on their own effort. They are in charge. They determine how far they will go, no matter their grade. This is liberating for many students.

D. Have students create an awesome file that they will keep in their desk, then create an opportunity for them to attract awesomeness. They can write down the compliments they get, or the encouraging notes people write, or the good grades they receive on difficult projects, or they can write notes to themselves bragging about a job well done or the challenges they’ve overcome. These positive messages stay in the folder, and when the student needs a reminder of their own awesome they can draw from it. 

E. Teach a class about failure and rejection and how the great innovators, athletes, leaders of our time fail frequently and yet still changed the world for the better. As part of this session, have students create a Setback Strategy with healthy ways they can use to cope with rejection and failure. This helps ease the fear of failing and encourages them to keep participating. When we engage, we are more likely to see the awesome.

I could go on and on. I think teaching others how to open and engage and look at the world is as important as teaching them math and English. We need to focus our support and teaching on being instead of always doing. 

Create opportunities to attract awesomeness! From How to Live an Awesome Life, by Polly Campbell.

One of the things that I've found is most important is doing good. You really make that an integral part of the book - but maybe you could explain the various meanings of doing good... 

Yes, doing good is big stuff. It illuminates the awesome within us, while also helping others to feel better in their own lives.

But we have all these rules around this stuff. We think we’ve got to have a ton of time to volunteer or a million dollars to donate to make a difference. The challenges facing us in the world seems so big that we feel like we can’t make any difference at all. That scares us so we don’t try, or we feel overwhelmed and stuck. 

But, I’m telling you, you do not have to change the entire world to make a positive difference in it. You don’t have to solve the big problems. You simply need to make this moment, this one brief moment, a little better - and the rest will take care of itself. 

Goodness starts with us right now in our station wagons in the carpool lane, or in the neighborhood with clogged storm drains. Goodness emerges right now in how we handle ourselves while in the long line in airport security or in the village in Africa, or in the classroom in the inner city or the dinner table at home. 

We are the goodness. If we give that to others and help them see all that they are, we need to do nothing else to change the world. 

Here are some ways to do good:

Don’t freak out when someone fails to pull forward in the school lane, or another cuts you off on the freeway. Extend thoughts of kindness and keep on trucking. This is doing good.

Say “Thank You,” while stopping to look the person serving your or the checker or person who helped you directly in the eye. Just stop and give them your attention and say “Thank You.”

Be compassionate to the one who deserves it the least. Radiate kindness to this difficult person, because I bet they need it more than anyone else.

Suggest success to another. Research shows that the mere suggestion of achievement – even the implied form, a pat on the back, or other silent encouragement – helps people do better. Do good, by suggesting that others already are.

Be present, give your attention, when others are sharing with you. Put down the phone, stop multitasking, simply be in this moment with this person and watch what happens.

Write a love note or note of appreciation and deliver it, sign up for a volunteer, shift, bake cookies for the neighbor or drop a casserole by for the new mom. Do good and good things happen.

Take action. Donate, volunteer, give of yourself in whatever way you can and want. NO ACT of kindness is too small. It all matters to the person on the receiving end...and also to you.

Practice Random Acts of Kindness. This is my fave and it's so fun and creative. Surprise someone with a kind act or thing for no reason at all. A stranger or friend. Keep it anonymous or go public. A little act can make a big difference in someone’s day. This organization has great ideas about how to do it:

Neuropsychologists say doing good creates eudaimonic well-being which is the kind of sustained good-feeling that comes when we feel as though our lives have a sense of purpose and meaning.
Researchers Steven Cole and Barbara Fredrickson found that our DNA, the very building blocks of our body, even act differently in people who have a sense of contribution. These people also have lower levels of inflammation and stronger immune cells.

And we get that immediate rush of natural hormones and feel-good chemicals in our body which is called a “helpers high” when we do good. In a very real way, we become healthier and happier when we do good things and at the very same time we are helping others. Win/Win. 

Say thank you! From How to Live an Awesome Life - an interview with author Polly Campbell

What’s up next for you?

Well, I’ve got several appearances planned at area bookstores to talk about Awesome and how we can use it to build resilience and elevate our lives. And I hope to have the opportunity do more speaking on the topics of awesome and resilience nationally. I do trainings and workshops and keynotes, and I’ve been invited to speak to groups and I hope to do more of that. I love talking about this stuff. I’ve also got a couple of new book proposals in the works, and I still enjoy writing about psychology and growth and personal development for magazines, so I have many things going on – until my daughter gets home from school, then I’ve got homework help and dinner prep, and laundry to fold. All part of it for me.


Learn more:

Polly Campbell is a motivational speaker and the author of three books: How to Live an Awesome Life: How to Live Well. Do Good. Be Happy., Imperfect Spirituality: Extraordinary Enlightenment for Ordinary People, and How to Reach Enlightenment.    

She is alsoa  blogger at Psychology Today, Psych Central, and other sites. Her magazine articles on personal development topics and spiritual practices appear regularly in national publications.
Campbell has integrated the things she writes and talks about into her own life through practical experience. She lives with her husband and daughter in Beaverton, Oregon, USA.

Find her online:
Facebook: Imperfect Spirituality
Twitter: @PLCampbell



Note: We received a review copy of this book from the publisher - thank you so much!