Caroline's Blog

What Every College Student Should Learn Before Launching


Harvard University was supposed to be the prize that made my life happy forever – it didn’t.

In a few hours I will be speaking to students at Tufts University, including a group of young men and women who literally won the course lottery when they were accepted into a small class taught by Deb Levy, who was one of Tal Ben-Shahar’s teaching assistants when he taught his now-famous course on Positive Psychology, which broke all of Harvard University’s class enrollment records.

I was once a Harvard student, and despite my sterling academic record and knowledge of history, psychology, literature and primates, I graduated magna cum laude in being pretty stupid about what was going to make me happy.  I’d already discovered that getting into Harvard in 1979 had resulted in bubbly elation that eventually faded, so I left college without the learning I really needed to navigate life and fulfill my promise: how to design and pursue the “right” goals that would not only enrich me as I pursued them, but would bring me lasting satisfaction that didn’t wear off.

Tonight at Tufts, I’m going to share what I wish I’d known when I graduated from Harvard that would have made life so much easier in this domain, and I’ve narrowed it down to three big points:

Read More

How One Man’s Sharing of His Own Dream Made It Come True

Every few months I’m asked for my opinion about a TED talk by Derek Sivers that advises people NOT to tell other people about your goals.  The thinking in the talk is that if you tell other people, you begin to feel like it’s been accomplished, which leads you to slack off.  One cited study showed that people who divulged their goals with a room of strangers quit working on their goals in the short time period afterward, saying that they were closer to success than they actually were.

I completely disagree with this line of thinking for several reasons.   Read More

We Need More Role Models, Robust Relationships & Raptures

Recently I have read several unrelated news reports and book reviews that underscore something that has been accelerating in the last few years in the fields of psychology, medicine, alcoholism, drug abuse and eating disorders: sad_mom_workingmiddle-aged women are hurting, and even dying, in record numbers.  Regardless of what you are talking about – happiness rates, admission to emergency rooms for drug overdoses, alcohol and eating disorder treatment statistics, or even suicides – women between the ages of 35 and 60 are leading the pack in terms of mental health and addiction problems.  Why?

Many experts in the fields of addiction and health have weighed in with their thoughts, but before we get too far, here are some of the troubling facts: Read More

About seven years ago, my daughter did well on an erg test in middle school, and that’s when everything changed in the Miller family. Read More

Shane Lopez’s new book, Making Hope Happen , reminds all of us why the quality of hope is essential in daily life in order to thrive

This week I was fortunate to be in the audience at the Gallup World Headquarters in Washington, D.C. where Shane Lopez, one of the leading experts on hope, launched his newest book, “Making Hope Happen.”  He spoke for almost an hour, covering topics ranging from why hope is necessary for followers to how hope impacts student attendance.  A few things struck me in a new way that I plan to use immediately with clients. Read More

Here I talk about “peak-end” rule and how important it is to take control of how situations end in life, whenever possible, and to create positive memories that aren’t tinged with regret.

Listen to the audio excerpt, below, taken from Your Best Self: The Proven Path to Self-Discovery

[ca_audio url="" width="WIDTH" height="HEIGHT" css_class="CSS_STYLE"]

No matter where you turn at this time of year, you’ll be hit with advice from everyone about how to save more money, set better resolutions, be a better parent, act a little happier, and be more successful in 2013.  Some of the advice will be good, some will be the same old stuff you’ve heard for years that sounds like white noise to you, and some will get your attention because it’s landing in the right place for you at the right time.

I hope that this post lands in the right place for those of you who want change, but who want something unexpected in the advice arena to grab you.  Goal setting and its intersection with well-being is my specialty, so I’m always studying new findings in these areas, trying to find ways to translate it into practical applications for clients, students, readers and those with whom I come in contact.

Because my training is outside of psychology, and more in the areas of history and journalism, my brain connects disparate points in unexpected ways. This is what “disruptive innovators” do; they assess information differently from people who have always been in a certain silo, whether it’s psychology, chemistry or economics, and instead think in patterns that are familiar to them.  The “disruptive” thinking often produces unexpected innovations.

“US News and World Report” used to list “50 Ways to Change Your Life” at the start of every year before the magazine was sidelined in recent years, and it was always so thought-provoking that I can honestly say that something important shifted every year as a result of their off-beat ideas.  In homage to them, here are five – not fifty – ideas that I hope are disruptively innovative to your life in 2013, and that lead to greater flourishing in meaningful areas. Read More

Like millions of others around the world, I am still in a state of disbelief and sadness about the mass slaughter of little kids at school in Newtown, Connecticut last week.  As a mom, I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that 20 six-and seven-year olds were wiped out at once while surrounded by the colorful maps and seasonal artwork, not to mention the friends they did playdates with, and the teachers who were guiding them in learning.

Signs of support for Newtown’s victims have sprouted all over the country, reminding people of what they can do to help.

All of my children were lucky to have a student-teacher ratio in elementary school of twenty to one.  If the Newtown shootings had happened at their school, they and all of their classmates would have been killed without exception.  For some reason, putting the loss into personal terms that I can visualize – every single boy and girl in their classroom –  has made this even harder to grasp.  So how do parents and a community process and accept this type of unthinkable loss?  It’s almost impossible to fathom, and even harder to think that some good might ever emerge from something so awful.

But research on survivors of trauma has discovered a phenomenon called “posttraumatic growth.”   Read More

This morning I launched a free new course that can help you create a vision for your “best self,” which includes unique content, exercises and questions for reflection.  This five-day class begins the moment you sign up, and by the end of the week you will know how to articulate your purpose, identify your top strengths, do an evidence-based exercise that helps you vision your future in powerful ways, and also learn some new and surprising things that you probably have never heard of around willpower and friendships.

As you close out 2012 and enter 2013, this is the perfect time to assess where you are in your life, where you want to go, who you will need to take on your journey with you, what activities need to be strengthened or dropped, and whether or not you have created the right “petri dish” that will help you live, work and thrive.  Most people don’t take the time to do this, which is why only 20% of the population meets the definition for “flourishing,” or living their best, most optimal, life.

Join me during this fun and interactive week (it’s only available between December 11th and the 17th) so that you can challenge yourself to become your best self.  At the conclusion of this course , I am offering an opportunity to join me for an in-depth, four-week course that will be described here in detail next week.

If you are not yet signed up to receive my email, and you only receive blog notices, please be sure to get on that notification list so that you don’t miss any other special offers.