Ryan Phillips was rising Canadian hockey star who nearly lost it all when he arrested smuggling marijuana across the U.S. border. After realizing the error of his ways, he traveled the world seeking to do humanitarian work and discover the meaning of what it means to attain happiness – documenting his journey in the Return to Happiness (available now on iTunes).
According to Phillips, “This work came from performing selfless acts of love for humanity.” The more he sent out intentions of wanting to make a difference in the world, the more opportunities he was presented with expressing his desire with a voice. “Being incarcerated in the year 2000 gave me the experience to understand what freedom really felt like and stood for. When we are free to do what we want in the world, anything is possible. So my journey of selfless love began with leading by example of simple acts of kindness.”
Phillips knew he could take all his knowledge and adversities and transform them into positive channels of growth. Filming the documentary Return to Happiness was an offspring of his thoughts and inner desire to be of service to the world. For anyone who watched the runaway global hit The Secret–Return to Happiness was the secret in action. What would come next to Philips hit him like a domino effect as he learned how cruel the world can be–especially to children. The real eye opener was when he did a bike ride for Cambodian activist Somaly Mam, who just this year launched TOGETHER1HEART with actress Anna Lynn McCord.
The non-profit organization works towards stamping out sex trafficking and has become the focus of Phillip’s life work: to spread the awareness globally. UNICEF reports that over 2 million children are sold into sex slavery every year. The question he asked myself was, “how can I make a sustainable dent in the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world?” To Phillips, this wasn’t work, it was a responsibility to humanity.
The bike ride and being exposed to the grim realities of how children are mistreated in the world compelled Phillips to delve deeper into his heart on how he could even help even one child live for the better. Many events leading up to the ride, like visiting orphans in developing countries expanded his awareness to life on a different level; no child should ever starve, and no child should ever be used as a commodity.
“I try and relate from the personal experience of having my own freedom taken away at a fairly early age and devastating it was for myself and my family and extrapolate from there to seek empathy from others. These children have no choice and are often sold off by members of their immediate family.”
According to Phillips, “It’s impossible to help make anyone understand anything unless you fully understand the epidemic yourself. So much corruption from governments and criminals plays into this dark business, but through global awareness we can all be more educated on how we can do our part to help if we desire.”
Most recently the film Return to Happiness co-produced by Little Studio Films has attained global distribution. Phillips encourages anyone who desires more positive change in their lives to watch and listen intently, because there are universal tools that will help anyone negotiate themselves through life with greater ease and understanding. He recently took the stage for the TEDx Talk in Calgary where he spoke on behalf of all the children that suffer from sex slavery, the cause and effect, and some solutions. It was through his experience of seeing how a little help can go a long way that keeps him firmly rooted as a voice for global change. It all starts with being aware and compassion.
Together with his co-producer, Alexia Melocchi, they plan to produce a sequel, this time bringing the spot light through a spiritual lens to look at depression and bipolar disorders. Melocchi says, “I was lucky to meet Ryan while he was still filming. I am thrilled to have been part of this production. Both Ryan and I share in the same beliefs that compassion and connection with other humans can indeed produce happiness. It’s the small acts that go a long way and we want to send a message of hope to anyone who believes they are not enough or can’t do enough with their lives.”