True connection awakens us to what matters most in life.
I’ve never been satisfied describing and categorizing human beings in terms of what was wrong with them. Fortunately, positive psychology revolutionized the mental health field during my graduate training in clinical psychology, and set me free to study the causes and conditions of happiness instead. I specialized in Health Psychology (Behavioral Medicine) at Harvard Medical School, then founded and ran the Health Psychology program and post-doctoral training programs at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.
Most people assumed my work with cancer and cardiac patients there would be depressing and sad, but I found it alive and inspiring, uplifting and humbling. So many of those going through life-threatening illness were—sometimes for the first time in their lives—absolutely clear what truly mattered to them: authenticity and connection. People living in this heightened state of awareness were far more fulfilled and grateful than any other patients I had worked with. They showed me what true authentic connection looks like… and how, when facing death, it is what matters most to everyone.
These patients inspired me to find out whether we could all live every day in that elevated place—without waiting for a tragic event or terminal diagnosis. This quest has sparked major changes both in my own life, and in those I serve. In 2016, I founded a non-profit to focus full-time on trying to understand, explain and teach what I now believe is the single most meaningful and rewarding aspect of our existence.