Sunday, April 12, 2015

Ride of Your Life by Ran Zilca

I first discovered Ran Zilca author of Ride of Your Life: A Coast-to-Coast Guide to Finding Inner Peacewhile researching my Be Strong Project (a project I created to help me become stronger in my 50th year). He had written a great article on building inner strength for Psychology Today which I used as the foundation for my project. Later, I had the opportunity to interview Zilca about inner strength. You can read that interview here. Recently, I was offered a free copy of Ride of Your Lifefor review. Below are my thoughts.

What is Ride of Your Life about?

In Zilca’s own words:
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.

What was his motivation for this project?

Also in Zilca's words:
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.

My Thoughts:

This book is a little bit travelogue, a little bit self-help/self-discovery and a little bit memoir. If you sum up the three parts it is a great little book packed with wisdom. Here are some of my favorite nuggets:

From Dr. Barbara Frederickson Zilca learns bad experiences affect us more than good, but good is more frequent than bad. 

Her first book, Positivity, describes various research studies on positive emotions. The findings are astounding in their simplicity and have to do with the number of positive emotions a person experiences during a day compared with the number of negative emotions, a ratio that is simply called  “the positivity ratio.” If that ratio equals three or higher, you eventually go into an “upward spiral” – a state of flourishing. If your daily dose of positive emotion is less than three times the negative, you risk going into a negative state. Simply put, to flourish, you need to experience three times the good for anything bad. (Pg. 45)
This makes so much sense to me. On days when I come home from work thinking what a lousy day, yet can’t name the reason for my bad day – just a lot of small negative events this study explains it.  My bad day is due to my positivity ratio being upside down. I am not experiencing enough positive emotions to counteract all of my negative encounters.

An effective strategy to become happier:
Cultivate openness so that a person can recognize, notice, and appreciate the good that is already taking place in his or her life, and this way, tip the positivity ratio in his or her favor. (Pg. 45)
Instead of using “be positive” as a motto she prefers “be open,” or be appreciative and kind.

From Deepak Chopra he learns flexibility is the very source of inner strength: “Infinite flexibility is the secret of immortality.”
Flexibility is an attitude more than anything else. It means that I don’t need to always be rigidly attached to anything: a situation, a relationship, a point of view, or an outcome. If you are flexible, the challenge is gone. (Pg. 165)
Lastly, I am adding traveling between Routes 61 and 152 to my bucket list. Zilca describes this landscape as surprisingly Mediterranean. I am also adding the Gila National Forest to the list which reminded Zilca of Switzerland. 

Bottom Line:
Ride of Your Life is a great little book packed with nuggets of wisdom. I recommend it for mid-lifers experiencing a crises or anyone at any stage of life who is looking for more. My only negative is the book seemed to end rather abruptly. I get it the ride was over and Zilca went home, but I would have preferred more exploration of what he learned and how he applied these new ideas once he returned home.

Have you read this book?  What were your thoughts?


  1. Sounds like an interesting book, and perhaps a good one from beginning my retirement. Am also interested in "Positivity". Almost seems that by opening up to the positive experiences, one could reverse some of the negative. I like that. thanks.

    1. I like that, "by opening up to the positive experiences." I kind of life my life to much on the "worst case scenario." I think I need to be more open to positive experiences. My husband tries to get me to notice things a little more like - the nice weather this morning or just sitting and enjoying a glass of wine. While I'm more about I need to answer my blog's comments etc. Then he is retired and I'm not, so more open to the moment.

  2. Sounds like an interesting book, and the idea of the the "positivity ratio" is so true :)

  3. Wow! I'm totally interested in reading this lil' nugget. I love the positivity scale thing...I can get so, so negative. It's hard for me to stay present in the positive parts of my life when all I can see are the negative things. I'm hoping this will lessen as I age....I picture myself with white hair and infinite knowledge gleaned from years of reading books like this one. Thank you for sharing!!

    1. I have a hard time staying positive too, but then my workday is usually a constant stream of bad news. I didn't want to look for a new job at 53, but starting to think I can't take this anymore.

  4. I have only ever read one "Self-Help" book and that was because if I didn't I may very well have been siting in jail after seriously considering taking out the teenager!!!! She is still living :) Thank goodness for those kinds of books that tell us no one is perfect and teenagers SUCK!!!!

    I am going to seriously consider reading this book and hear is why. I am in the 40's and I wonder to myself more and more, who am I? I started to write the blog partly to answer that...... I think I need to read, and find my inner self, and come to some peace as well.

    Thoughts on this? Or if one should try another book?


    1. I decided to answer your comment in a new post. You can check it out here: What to read for a female mid-life crisis