Last summer, while researching inner-strength for my BE Strong Challenge – a challenge I created for myself to become a stronger person in my 50th year - I discovered a fantastic article on Building Inner Strength by Ran Zilca on Psychology Today. This article remains the best article I’ve read to-date on inner-strength, so you can imagine how excited I was to learn Ran is writing a book about his journey towards inner peace. I recently had the opportunity to interview Ran for my strength challenge:
What is your book - A coast to Coast Journey to Inner Peace about? And when will it be released?
The book is a guide to inner peace, composed over a 6,000 mile, coast-to-coast solo motorcycle ride I took in 2010. I started in New York and rode to California and then down the California coast line. On my way I interviewed different scientists and authors like Deepak Chopra, Phil Zimbardo, Sonja Lyubomirsky, and Byron Katie. The collective wisdom of these experts and of the many people I met on the road, along with the meditative experience of riding in solitude each day, yielded very interesting insights that form the guide.
I am running a Kickstarter Campaign (see below). If it’s successful the book will come out for the new year.
What motivated you to undertake this journey?
I was just turning 40, and being very successful in business and in my personal life, but unsure as to who I really am. I think that many people experience this type of feeling in midlife, where they know what they do and where they live, but not exactly sure who they are. It made me feel restless, so I went out to rediscover my identity, quiet the restlessness, and regain my inner peace.
What makes you feel strong?
When you lift weights you put a strain on your muscles, and in turn that builds muscle mass. Mental strength is built in the exact same way – by facing and meeting challenges, and going outside your comfort zone. I got my motorcycle license only a year before going on the road, and it was very hard for me to learn how to ride, and become good at it. It was also very hard, in many different ways, to go on the road and leave home for 5 weeks. I missed my wife and my kids, and even though my wife was very supportive of the project, it was very hard on her as well. I also did not have much riding experience, and most days were filled with risks. For that very reason though, the pride of actually doing it made me feel much stronger in a very profound way.
What detracts from your strength or what do you see others doing that detract from their strength?
All of us have known energy-drains. It could be the interaction with certain people, being in certain situations, or worries and thoughts. To remain strong, it’s crucial to identify those, so you can keep the drain of strength to a minimum.
What do you know now that you did not know when you were 18?
At 18 my identity was still forming, and today I know who I am and how to make decisions irrespective of what may be good for others. At the same time, I would never want to lose my perspective at 18, where anything was possible, and everything was starting to happen and materialize. The sense of strength in youth can be tremendous.
Do you have any lessons that you’ve learned from your journey that may help me in my strength challenge?To do one thing each day that scares you and makes you feel uncomfortable, to live life in service of others, to give others credit before they act, and forgive them when they default on that credit. The biggest hurdle on the way to happiness and inner strength is one’s ego and a sense of self-importance.
Are there any books that have influenced you or that you find yourself always recommending to others?
Many :) Sonja Lyubomirsky’s The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want The How of Happiness, and Barbara Fredrickson’s Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life (both authors that I was fortunate to interview) are great positive psychology guides for life. Deepak Chopra’s The Ultimate Happiness Prescription: 7 Keys to Joy and Enlightenment The Ultimate Happiness Prescription is also a great read that is very practical. When I was on the road I read John’s Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, which is both a great travel story and a thought-provoker. But mostly – I find The Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Te Ching to be an executive summary of many texts on human happiness.
As I enter the second year of my challenge what should I focus on? I spent most of my first year gaining a better understanding of who I am.
Here’s my advice: Make a list of things you want to do but feel uncomfortable doing, and start doing them! It could be small, daily things too. The pride you will feel will be a tremendous source of strength.
Tell me about your Kickstarter Project?
The Kickstarter Campaign allows everyone to pre-order the book, and also participate in its creation (!) by sending questions to the different experts. You can also get signed and dedicated copies, a coaching package, and other special rewards. The funding from the pre-orders will be then used to pay for the book’s production, but only if enough pre-orders are made.
Is there anything else we should know about you?
Even though there’s some dose of adventure in my life, I live very normatively – house in the suburbs, take the kids to school and activities, etc. I love family life and the daily routine that comes with it.
Ran Zilca can be found at http://www.rideofyourlife.com/ and his Kickstarter Project can be found here.
Please Note, I am an Amazon Affiliate