What did you study at NYU, and what do you do today?
I was pre-med and started out as a chemistry major until I discovered psychology. I have been studying social psychology ever since.
Tell us a fun fact about you.
Despite the fact that I was not one of those kids who could draw, and at 50 years old not one of those adults who could draw, I started painting. One of my books, On Becoming an Artist: Reinventing Yourself through Mindful Creativity, has several of my paintings in it. The book is really about interpersonal mindfulness, but when Random House suggested the title, I was so pleased to be considered an artist that I agreed to the title. Although my main identity is as a social psychologist, to my surprise and delight, I’m now also a gallery-exhibiting painter.
What are 3 words that define NYU for you?
When I think about my years at NYU, I think about how intellectually exciting, promising, and cosmopolitan that time and place were for me.
Share your most memorable moments from NYU.
I started out as a chemistry major. I practiced Jewish chemistry—a little is good, a little more can’t hurt. Probably to everyone’s benefit, things changed after I took psychology with Phil Zimbardo. His lectures were so exciting that I still remember many of them to this day.
If you could take one more NYU class today, what would it be?
If I took a course at NYU today, it would probably be Studio Art so I could finally learn how to draw.
If you could give one piece of advice to NYU’s graduating students, what would it be?
Live Large. Everything is mutable. Virtually all that is was once a decision made by others that made sense at that point in time. For it to be a decision means there was uncertainty, which means it could have been otherwise. Exploit the power of uncertainty and make “it” your own.