Repairing the World with Small Acts of Happiness

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” -Anne Frank

I love this inspiring quote from Anne Frank. It gets to so many things that I believe in: the optimism that we can change the world, that it takes work to change the world, and that the world can be changed, one small action at a time. In Judaism we have a concept called tikkun olam, or “repairing the world.” It means bringing the world together, piece by piece, through acts of kindness, charity, and gratitude. But tikkun olam is also about recognizing light in the darkness, and seeing the good in the world instead of focusing on the negative. At a time when all the news seems grim, and especially when those of us on the West Coast are living under a thick cloud of wildfire smoke, I think it’s more important than ever to focus on the good in the world– to seek out the light.

This is why, when I met Viola Sutanto at a HeyMama networking event in San Francisco, I was instantly drawn to her creative energy and her entrepreneurial spirit. So when Viola came to me with her book, Eat Cake for Breakfast: And 99 Other Small Acts of Happiness, I jumped at the chance to work with her. Viola’s book isn’t about big days or perfect moments, it isn’t about loud celebrations or momentous occasions, but rather about recognizing something every day that makes us happy. It’s about reminding ourselves that happiness can be found anywhere, and noticing and savoring those little moments.

A year ago, Viola’s daughter, Maika, was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia, or bone marrow failure. Miraculously, her son was a match and was able to be her donor. Maika still had to endure months of treatment. Even in the midst of the fight of her life, Maika found something to be happy about every day that she was in the hospital, whether it was Nutella bagels for breakfast, playing UNO, or reruns of Full House on TV. She found small moments of joy inside every day.

It was through her daughter’s courage and positivity that Viola was inspired to write Eat Cake for Breakfast: And 99 Other Small Acts of Happiness. She wanted to celebrate joy and curiosity by finding something to be happy about every day, and by celebrating those small moments with gratitude.

It’s more than a book — it’s a mindset that focuses on the good rather than the bad, that calls on all of us to take stock of the things we’re grateful for, instead of pining endlessly for what we don’t have. To underscore her mission of gratitude, Viola will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of her book to the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California, where Maika was treated.

I launched The Collective Book Studio because I wanted to build a different kind of publishing business, one that adheres to the author’s vision every step of the way. And I’m most proud of my business when we publish books like Eat Cake for Breakfast: And 99 Other Small Acts of Happiness. Books that I know will make an impact on the world, repairing the things that are broken, and changing things for the better.

I’m so inspired by Viola and Maika’s story. I am always encouraged by my three daughters — their curiosity, their resilience, and their joy — and it means so much to me to bring this book into the world. A book that was prompted by a little girl who refused to be defeated by the circumstances in her life, and instead chose to find something to be happy about every single day.

If you would like to read more about, or contribute to, the IFundWomen campaign, you can find it here.

In order to promote this important work, Angela and Viola are currently in the midst of a social media campaign. Follow @thecollectivebookstudio, @chewingthecudagain, @maikagoods to stay updated on the project and to find actionable steps to help.

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