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Featuring You - Dr. Hasan Merali

Updated: 5 days ago

Photo by Chris Hartlove

Please welcome Dr. Hasan Merali to Best Ever You! Dr. Hasan Merali is a highly accomplished pediatric emergency medicine physician and researcher. He serves as an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at McMaster University and practices at McMaster Children's Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. Dr. Merali holds a medical degree from Harvard Medical School and a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University​. In addition to his medical and research career, Dr. Merali is an author. His book, Sleep Well, Take Risks, Squish the Peas: Secrets from the Science of Toddlers for a Happier, More Successful Way of Life, explores the valuable lessons adults can learn from the behaviors and attitudes of toddlers​  

Dr. Hasan Merali was recently on The Best Ever You Show. Listen to the interview here:

What inspired you to start writing?

I am fortunate that as a pediatric emergency medicine physician, I get to interact with children every day. I have been working in pediatrics for fourteen years now, and during this time, I have had many instances where I have been both amazed and inspired by how young children interact with the world. This is especially true of toddlers and preschoolers. Their ability to laugh, exercise, take risks, and do so many other things that promote wellness is unmatched by anyone. As a researcher, I looked at the data around how they behave and discovered that they truly hold the secrets to well-being. I then had to write this book on all the lessons they can teach us to improve our own lives.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

Write every day! I know this may sound cliché but I tried it and it helped me a lot. Just getting some words down on a page daily helps build the habit of writing so it becomes a natural part of your day. One way I was able to keep myself accountable was to use a program called Focusmate. This program allows you to have an accountability partner while you write, and I have met many writers on this platform! While I was writing my book, I used it for a minimum of two hours each day.

Photo by Johna Cahigas

Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?

Yes, one of the core lessons I go through in the book is self-talk. Toddlers do this often and out loud, and this helps them execute difficult tasks. It also provides a method for them to encourage themselves. Adults have too much negative-self talk in their lives and following the toddler lead by incorporating more positive self-talk into our day, is incredibly powerful.

What is the significance of the title?

The title, Sleep Well, Take Risks, Squish the Peas, ties the book together. The book itself is divided into ten chapters and the first half focuses on toddler lessons we can apply in our personal lives, while the second half focuses on lessons we can apply in our professional lives. So, Sleep Well and Take Risks speak to each half of the book. Squish the Peas is a nod to toddlers who incorporate play into every aspect of their lives.

What do you hope your readers take away from this book?

First, I want to dispel the myths around toddlers and help readers understand that terms such as “terrible twos” are completely inappropriate. When we actually see toddlers for who they are, we find the kindest, gentlest, most helpful people in society. And second, I want readers to take away practical lessons we can learn from these wonderful people. Each chapter of the book ends with key “Toddler Teachings” where I summarize important lessons we can learn from toddlers that can improve our own lives.

Has your book been made into audiobooks?

Yes! Sleep Well, Take Risks, Squish the Peas has now been made into an audiobook! I was fortunate that my publisher worked with an audiobook publisher directly to do this. All I had to do was to decide whether I wanted to record my own voice or choose a professional voice actor. I went with the second option and couldn’t be happier. It’s nice to have an audiobook for two main reasons. First, my audiobook came out two months after the paperback/e-book so it allowed me to do a second release of the book which was fun. And, more importantly, having an audiobook has allowed me to reach an entirely different audience.

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

My favorite author is Dr. Cal Newport. He has many fantastic books but the one that had the biggest impact on me and my career is Deep Work. In this book, Dr. Newport shows readers how important it is to be able to do difficult tasks (requiring a high level of concentration) without distraction, and then guides readers on practical ways to make this happen. This book is incredibly powerful and has completely changed the way I work.

Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?

Yes, in my continued quest to take lessons from children and present them to adults in an easily accessible manner, I have found social media a good way to do this. I am on X, LinkedIn, and Facebook and regularly post about the wonderful ways the habits of young children can improve our lives. It’s nice to be on social media as it provides readers with a way to share additional lessons that they have learned from children.

More about Dr. Hasan Merali

Hasan Merali, MD, MPH, is an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, McMaster University and a pediatric emergency medicine physician at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ontario. He received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and Master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins University. His research focuses on child injury prevention in low- and middle-income countries. He has published more than twenty-five peer-reviewed journal articles, and his writing has been featured in The New York Times, BBC, Science, Medium, The Boston Globe, NBC, CNN, and Popular Science. Dr. Merali lives in Oakville, Ontario, with his wife and their toddler daughter. For more information visit:

About the Book

Toddlers hold the secrets to having more fun and living a fulfilling life. These are secrets we once knew and ones that a Harvard-trained physician can help us rediscover. Terrible twos, temper tantrums, and grocery store meltdowns are usually the first things that come to mind when people think of toddlers. But pediatric emergency medicine physician and researcher Dr. Hasan Merali has long thought toddlers are among the best people in our society and adults could do well to learn from them. These extraordinary youngsters can be impulsive, yes, but with this comes a remarkable ability to take risks and ask questions—two qualities that can help us enjoy life more. Toddlers act kindly toward strangers, are eager to work with others to solve problems, and demonstrate extraordinary dedication and perseverance. These are all traits that many of us aspire to have in order to improve both our personal and professional lives. To unpack this behavior, Dr. Merali includes many humorous examples from his experience as a pediatrician and father, but the core lessons are drawn from two decades worth of fascinating and surprising studies in child psychology and development. Merali connects these studies to research about adults to create the first book to offer adults important lessons that can be gleaned from toddlers. Toddlers can teach you many things, including how to:

· Lose weight naturally

· Sleep better

· Build stronger friendships

· Improve teamwork

· Be more productive

· Have more fun, and

· Live a more fulfilling life

Sleep Well, Take Risks, Squish the Peas shows us how toddlers bring out the best in humanity and how we can, too. It’s a whole new way of looking at and learning from toddlers.


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