Positivity, Reflected: Ripple’s Effect Blog Book Tour

You know those people you meet and you just know right away they’re for keeps? That’s exactly how I felt about Rana DiOrio after I ended up in a seat next to her at dinner one night in Ethiopia. Rana is the owner of Little Pickle Press and, it turns out, a tremendous person to whom I am inexplicably drawn.

At her company she focuses on children’s media that communicates meaningful messages, and she brought a few of her picture books along on the trip to pass out to the children we met. While there, I had the opportunity to flip through one of those books — What Does It Mean To Be Present — and was blown away by the beauty, quality, and message.

Naturally then, when she offered to send me LPP’s newest release, Ripple’s Effect, I couldn’t dream of turning her down and I jumped at the chance to kick off the book’s blog book tour today.

This weekend, as I thought about what I could tell you about this book — aside from how much you’ll be drooling all over its beautiful illustrations — I kept coming back to the other day. The day I told you that since returning from Ethiopia I’ve felt like my wheels are spinning, that I’m so small in such a big world and yet so big in such a small world.

Recently Rana forwarded me an email with a passage in it that used a lot more words, but when boiled down said:

When we act as champions for a positive cause we contribute energy to a movement that creates a world in which that positivity is reflected.

Ripple’s Effect couldn’t be more succinctly summed up. Written by Shawn Achor, a man who has spent more than a decade studying happiness at Harvard, and Amy Blankson, a Harvard and Yale grad who has been consulting with businesses on how to create positive leaders for just as long, Ripple’s Effect is the story of a dolphin (Ripple) who turns an aquarium on its head when he challenges the authority of a surly Shark appropriately nicknamed Snark.

Eventually, Ripple’s tiny gestures create big waves of change and an environment of happiness in his aquarium — something that everyone, even Snark, benefits from.

In the back of the book, in a note to parents and educators Shawn and Amy write, “[Research has proven] that happiness leads to success, not the other way around. Happiness is a choice and a learned skill — and happiness spreads.” and go on to conclude, “If positive individuals gain control from bullies and negative people, they can refashion a world that is based on the advantages that happiness brings.”

I’m not sure what the research says, but I can tell you that in my own concerted efforts to bring happiness to our lives, only good things have followed. If I can teach my children to do the same, I can’t see how it would hurt them — or anyone else.

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Disclaimer: Rana sent me a copy of Ripple’s Effect for free upon my request, but all opinions are my own.

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23 thoughts on “Positivity, Reflected: Ripple’s Effect Blog Book Tour

  1. I find that if I pay attention to all that is wrong in the world I become overwhelmed…how can I end hunger? How can I stop genetically modified food from taking over? How can I put a stop to wars and oppression? The answer? I can’t. But I can’t ignore such things either. I think what you (and Rana, and Shawn and Amy) are saying about making your own little differences, consistently, bit by bit, and this having a wider effect than maybe we realize is incredibly important and pertinent to those of us who care. I lived in Yemen for ten years, and I remember crying over the number of beggars, especially the women with children, in Tahrir (Freedom) Square. I felt to helpless. We were poor, but I had not encountered this extreme poverty before. I had to do what I could, and after that first, overwhelming trip I always made sure I took as much as I could, to give as much as I could, and try to make a difference to whomever I could every single time I went. I hope my actions had a “ripple effect” as well. Thank you for this thoughtful review of a beautiful book!

    1. Khadijah, what an inspiring comment. I love your passion to focus on what you could control instead of being overwhelmed by what is out of our control. There’s a concept called “happiness anxiety” in psychology where our brains put the brakes on our happiness because we fear that we don’t deserve it when others are suffering. But as your story points out, guilt and paralysis serves no one; instead you were grateful for what you had and felt the power to give to others. Thank you for sharing your story!

  2. “I’m not sure what the research says, but I can tell you that in my own concerted efforts to bring happiness to our lives, only good things have followed.” What a great thought, and how true it is. It highlights something that I love about this picture book– the empowerment of children to take happiness in to their own hands.

    Thank you for sharing!

  3. It’s a hard lesson to learn, and some never learn it, but what you put into the world inevitably comes back to you in the same form… and usually ten-fold! Might as well make it positive and the best you can put out there. If you want to be happy, we must help make others happy first. It’s pretty simple. And the changes begin in ourselves, then our own backyards – small ripples that extend into our work places, our communities, our country, and finally into the great big world.

  4. With all of the turmoil in our lives and also in the world, it is often very easy to feel overwhelmed and to get mired in negativity. Mr. Achor’s path toward the positive, and methods for remaining upbeat and actually seeking out happiness, have worked for me personally. It’s a mindset that one develops, and over time, it becomes almost a “default setting” in your life toward creating your own happiness and in the process, spreading it to others. In Ripple’s Effect, Mr. Achor translates those same messages into a terrific story that sends out simple messages from which everyone can learn and use to move forward. The illustrations are also truly outstanding.

  5. There are so many things about Ripple’s Effect that I absolutely love, but the best is that happiness spreads and that being positive is a choice. I have two anxious children and when dealing with their worries we often have the conversation that begins with, “What is the worst that could happen?” That leap frogs into, “What is the best thing that could happen and let’s focus on that.” We’re actively teaching our kids to take control of their inner self-talk and focus on happy thoughts and all the good that surrounds them.

  6. My husband likes to point out the fact that we seem to have fun no matter where we go. Standing in line at the store, the DMV, the Post Office; our upbeat mood spreads to the people around us until everyone is smiling. Ripple’s Effect is real!

  7. Diana, I feel so grateful to call you my friend. I am so looking forward to effecting positive change with you. It is apropos that as we continue on our journey together, you write this terrific review of Ripple’s Effect. I read The Happiness Advantage (http://blog.littlepicklepress.com/2011/06/book-review-happiness-advantage.html) by Shawn Achor and my first reaction was––wouldn’t it be great for 7 year olds to understand that happiness breeds success instead of having to wait until adulthood to figure that out? That was the impetus behind my approach to Shawn to write Ripple’s Effect with his sister, Amy Blankson. Thanks for your insights and friendship, Diana.

    1. And it is truly a gift to be able to explain these important things to children- Shawn and Amy, and you, Rana, definitely have that gift!

  8. I have been working with my kids to think of things that made them happy in their daily routine. Sometimes they surprise me with stories about things that made them sad, but it is a great chance to talk about how to react. My five year old is now “on the look out” for bullies and when we read the digital version of this book together, he really seemed to enjoy it! I can’t wait to get our hard copy in the mail!

    1. I do something similar with the children at bedtime sometimes. We all think of something that makes us happy, or grateful (two very similar emotions!) and imagine different things that could happen the next day to make us happy again!

  9. Thank you for your inspiring and powerful words. Your post is a reminder for how paramont being happy is for us as individuals, and how our happiness effects the world. Then, and only then shall we experience success.
    Your quote:”When we act as champions for a positive cause we contribute energy to a movement that creates a world in which that positivity is reflected,” says it all. We are all connected, our actions effect those around us. We are such powerful people, we can every day make a difference, give back to the world around us.
    Happiness begins within, and is contagious. The end result is success.

  10. Both books sound wonderful (Ripple’s Effect and The Happiness Advantage). I am an optimist married to a chronic pessimist, and unfortunately negativity is contageous, too. My three-year-old worriedly asks, “You happy, Daddy?” at least daily. I’m going to be reading these books to get some more ideas.

    1. Elle, thanks for sharing. That is a real challenge, both for you and for your three-year old who is still forming his outlook on life. As Shawn writes in the Happiness Advantage, happiness is a choice. For some, happiness comes naturally, and for others, happiness is something that requires active effort. One thing you might try is having everyone share three gratitudes over dinner. The research says that this simple action has huge benefits for bolstering optimism because it helps train the brain to scan for positive events. Hopefully, your child will pick up on this quickly, and the habit will ripple to your husband soon as well.

  11. Thanks for summing up the wonderful trifecta that makes the Little Pickle Press books so special Diana! You hit the nail right on the head: “beauty, quality, and message.” I’m sure everyone can relate to the feeling that they are living in a “fishbowl” and I love the way you point out “eventually, Ripple’s tiny gestures create big waves of change and an environment of happiness.” This is such a powerful message in the story because it holds so much truth for all of us; if we are going to live in a fishbowl, it might as well be a happy one!

  12. I’m really excited about getting my hands on this book. Although schools in Australia do a great job of teaching kids to read and write I’m not entirely sure what to expect from our education system when it comes to my daughters internal world. Im ready to continue with that responsibly and having literature to support me is so exciting.

  13. I have just written my post to go live on Friday and only after writing could I dare to come and see what others have written. You have done a very fine job kicking off this tour Diana. The start to my post is very similar to yours, That Rana gets under your skin!

    Mich x

  14. Diana,

    I so love the way this book takes something so simple – a smile, something we all possess – and demonstrates what true power it has to make a difference. Imagine if we all put a little more effort into smiling the effect it would have. Ripple is my heroine!

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