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The Ride of Your Life (Book Review)

written by Lisa Sansom 5 January 2015

Lisa Sansom, MAPP '10, is the owner of LVS Consulting, an independent consulting firm that helps to build positive organizations. Lisa provide services such as individual and leadership coaching, team facilitation, effective communications training, Appreciative Inquiry and change management consulting. Full Bio.

Articles by Lisa are here.



I became aware of Ran Zilca’s book, Ride of Your Life just before Christmas and agreed to review it for PPND, planning on reading it sometime over the holidays. I figured that I would be sitting around a fireplace, sipping hot chocolate, enjoying this positive psychology memoir about Ran’s motorcycle journey across the continental US while discovering himself and meeting with illustrious researchers. However, things don’t always turn out as planned, neither in Ran’s memoir nor in my real life.

As my youngest son came down with a nasty croupy cough, we (my son and I – though mostly I) decided to spend Christmas isolated in our home while my husband and oldest son carried on with the family visits. We figured that my octogenarian in-laws would not appreciate the virus that the child was carrying, and so my 10-year-old and I stayed home, affording me the time to read Ride of Your Life. As Ran (in his book) rode the open highways from New York to California, I sat on my couch (in real life) and listened to my son cough up several lungs.

Ran Ready to Go

Ran Ready to Go

It was fascinating to read about Ran’s preparations for the journey, how he went from dream to reality in the space of a short year. From his first time on a small motorcycle (and failing the safety test) to gaining the confidence and gear to make his journey, the reader is invited along. This isn’t, of course, a journey about just the miles. It’s also an inner journey of self-discovery and inner realization. Ran enlists the help of several luminaries along the way, including Barbara Fredrickson, Sonja Lyubomirsky and Philip Zimbardo, to help him to understand the science of his experiment (sample size = 1). Ran also learns from the individuals he meets along the way at truck stops, at gas stations, at motels and realizes that the “ride of your life” can take place even if you never leave your hometown.

As I read along with Ran’s journey, I felt the call of the open road, especially as I went into the second day with my hacking sniffling child. I also felt a tremendous empathy for Ran’s wife, back at home with the children, and Ran’s frustration about being unable to be present for her when things got difficult in the family realm. I certainly know that inner conflict between the need to be away embarking on meaningful travels and the need to be in contact with loving roots where we feel useful and known. I’m looking forward to Ran’s next book, where no doubt he will continue the story about how he became a more loving father, husband, and appreciative family man giving many 20-second hugs to his wife and putting his focus entirely on his children when they are together.


   Ran with Barbara Fredrickson

   Ran with Barbara Fredrickson

At the end of several chapters, Ran highlights his learning from the people he encounters, some by chance and others by appointment, along the way. Let me then share some of my highlighted passages from Ran’s very worthy tale:

“Don’t watch the movie; make the movie!” – from Barbara Fredrickson

“You can run the same business in the same tiny town for fifty years and still be on the ride of your life.” – from Linville, NC

“Challenges, in fact, are the fuel for the ride of your life. They bring self-esteem, satisfaction, autonomy, and pride.” – passing from Georgia into Alabama, after encountering a drowning rain storm

“Realize that the story you choose to tell determines your well-being, and you have the power to change it.” – from James Pennebaker

“Happiness comes from the love of mankind, humanizing each person you meet, and understanding that they experience life just the way you do.” – from Phil Zimbardo




Ran exemplifies each of these insights and more along his journey, and as I passed into the third day of quarantine with my healing-but-not-100% son, so did I try to bring to life what I read on the page.

That said, although being nurse qua mother did bring me some satisfaction and allowed me to craft a new story for myself, I also yearn for the open road of positive psychology journeys. Perhaps that will be next year’s story that I can write for myself?

Thanks, Ran, for the wonderful inspiration.


Zilca, R. (2014). Ride of Your Life. Booktrope Editions.

Fredrickson, B. L. (2013). Love 2.0: How Our Supreme Emotion Affects Everything We Feel, Think, Do, and Become. Hudson Street Press.

Lyubomirsky, S. (2013). The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, but Does.

Zimbardo, P. & Boyd, J. (2009). The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life. Free Press.

Pictures taken by Ran Zilca and used with permission.

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