We are a world of busy people. We work and learn. We invest our time in a variety of technologies, hobbies, projects, and people we care about. At the very least, we feel guilty when we don’t squeeze ALL these things into our days.

Colleges and universities are even busier places. It is here, after all, that students are challenged to set the course for their professional lives. For fifteen years my students have shared their worries with me: Have I picked the right major? Will I get a job when I graduate? How much is this costing my parents and me?

Given the previous period of economic instability we’ve faced, students are smart to consider these questions. Yet, I find when we have deeper conversations in my classes, what’s at the core of the challenges they face is really more about feeling a sense of purpose, having enough supportive friends and family, and knowing and living their most important values.

Regardless of what course I’m teaching, one of my objectives is always to help students build their self-esteem. It’s been my experience that unless people believe that they CAN do something, that they will usually find reasons not to do it. I require my students to soul-search a bit and begin to uncover how they will carve out a life that uniquely represents them, as well as why that’s important. Yogis call this process svadhyaya, or self-study, and it is an integral part of “shellness.”