Caroline's Blog

How the word of the year has been incorrectly co-opted 

Wherever you look, it’s there.  “Grit” is the showcased word in this year’s commencement

While John Wayne's seminal movie, "True Grit," introduced people to the idea of toughness, the word has now become so enthusiastically overused that it has lost its specialness.

While John Wayne’s seminal movie, “True Grit,” introduced people to the idea of toughness, the word has now become so enthusiastically overused that it has lost its specialness.

speeches, sports pages, and any internet viral stories of overcoming any variety of ills.  There are gritty scholars, gritty pole vaulters and gritty entrepreneurs.  These are the same folks who used to have “heart,” but now they have “grit,” which has come to mean any type of resilience or bouncing back from adversity.

The overuse of the word, and the misinterpretation of what it really means, has now begun to cheapen the extraordinarily rare quality it represents.  And like any currency that has flooded the market and become devalued, too many complimentary references around grit have detracted from what it really connotes.

Before we take a look at grit and what it is and isn’t, I have a personal story to share that demonstrates why grit trumps lots of other qualities when it comes to getting what you want: Read More

The Graduation Speech I Would Give If Asked

Sam with dragon at graduation

My daughter, Samantha Miller, got great advice at Brown University’s Commencement last week, but not from the dancing Chinese dragons.

Every year I write a column summarizing my annual thoughts about what I’d say if asked to give a graduation speech.  One day I hope to be honored with a request like this, but until then, here are my best ideas geared towards young adults – like my daughter Samantha, who just graduated from Brown University this week – that I think will make life a little bit richer from many perspectives.

As always, my tips are pulled from the world of academic research, which is the basis for my goal-setting and Positive Psychology coaching practice.  I’ve been surprised by how many terrific life approaches can be gleaned from the Ivory Tower that the general public never learns about, many of which I included in my best-seller, “Creating Your Best Life.”  So without further ado, here are my top 2014 graduating tips:

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Katty Kay and Claire Shipman Argue in “The Confidence Code” That Women Need to Take More Risks To Succeed in New Ways and Live Without Regrets

This week I spoke to a group of men and women about risk-taking, happiness and goals and success.  My book, “Creating Your Best Life,” had been selected as their monthly business read, but before I got going I asked them what they would regret not doing with their lives if they didn’t start preparing now.

One man said that he was going to call his football coach after our meeting and thank him for his guidance because he didn’t want to regret not letting him know how he felt about the many life lessons the coach had taught him. Read More

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:

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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

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