When a woman bares her soul, she nurtures us all.
Upon first glance, executive coach and positive psychology practitioner Caroline Miller appears to be perfect. With a striking face, slender figure, successful business, and six published books to her name, one might even assume that her life has been easy.Such an assumption would be dead wrong. In her newest book, Positively Caroline: How I beat bulimia for good… and found real happiness, the author discloses that she has struggled her entire life to be happy. Through this beautifully written memoir, at times painfully raw, Miller takes readers along her winding journey of abuse, bulimia, bankruptcy, and depression to eventually finding true happiness within. In precise detail, she bares the depths of her soul so that readers can learn and grow with her.
Though the subtitle suggests that this is a book about bulimia recovery, it is relevant to us all. Hers is the story of every person who has faced struggles and setbacks. (And let’s face it, who hasn’t?)
Refusing to be a Victim
However, Miller refused to be a victim. She fought for happiness with perseverance, authenticity, and humility. She was not too proud to seek therapy, medication, and education to find happiness. Furthermore, what makes this book exceptional is that, as an expert in Positive Psychology, the scientific study of well-being, Miller infuses her stories with research-based theory and tools that readers can apply to navigate their own life challenges. As she so eloquently states, “Life is really nothing but a series of jolts and setbacks, followed by resilience and positive growth.”Her ability to bounce back, rise above challenges and improve her lot in life is perhaps the book’s greatest gift. With her candor and strength, she teaches readers they too can survive and thrive through challenges. In this manner, readers learn what happiness actually is. She reminds us to tune into intuition instead of pursuing external rewards and “shoulds.” She teaches us to appreciate what is, to cultivate nurturing relationships with love and gratitude, and to approach life with grace and gusto.
Special Relevance to Teenage Girls
On a professional note, while this book is for everyone and may be of particular interest to addicts in recovery, I also urge parents of teenage girls to read it. In psychology circles, it is well known that women are twice as likely to suffer depression as men. However, it is not as well known that this disparity begins between the ages of 13 and 16, as girls begin to feel unworthy. Exacerbated by images in the media of body perfection, girls need to know that they are beautiful and worthy as is. They need to know that they are perfect in their imperfections and adorable in their quirks. In the book, Caroline takes this challenge head on when she learns that she is having a baby girl. All of us who love, parent, and work with girls can learn from her.
Finally, in reading Positively Caroline, you can’t help but fall in love with the author. You will laugh, cry, and become her cheerleader. For those who have read Miller’s previous books and/or respected her professional accomplishments, this delicate insight into her soul will likely make you want to be her best friend. She will inspire you to be your best, and this is the mark of truly inspirational, positive literature.
Editor’s Note: This book extends the story that Caroline Miller told in her book, My Name is Caroline, written 25 years ago about her struggles with bulimia. In an earlier article for PPND, The Happiness of Beating Bulimia for Good, Miller pointed out that stories about eating disorders often are told in a way that undermines hope. She tells her story as a long-term survivor to support the hope of others facing similar challenges. As she says in that article, “My recovery was sparked one night at a self-help group for recovering compulsive eaters when a woman — who looked a lot like me — spoke honestly and forthrightly about her long battle with bulimia, and said that she was now in recovery. That moment changed my life.” She tells her story to pass on the benefit she received that night. Her 2007 article includes 11 actions that she took to build her own recovery.
Miller, C. A. (2013). Positively Caroline: How I beat bulimia for good… and found real happiness. New York: Cogent Publishing.
Miller, C. A. (2007). The Happiness of Beating Bulimia for Good. Positive Psychology News.
Miller, C. A. & Frisch, M. B. (2009), Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide. New York: Sterling.
Miller, C. A. (1988). My Name is Caroline. Doubleday.
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