I had a mild panic attack the day I had to choose a college major. The gravity of the decision weighed heavily on me. I was afraid I would spend four years studying something I didn’t like or worse, preparing for a career I wasn’t passionate about. What I didn’t realize back then was that it really didn’t matter! A piece of paper wouldn’t determine my future – it was me. We are never bound by any particular path, and if you are still not sure what to do with your life, don’t stress. That’s why I turned to you DR. Amitha Kalaichandrans for this story – as a kind of guide to get more clarity on how to find your purpose and create a life with meaning.
“A life that has meaning brings a deep feeling of peace and joy on more days, attracts like-minded people and gives the feeling of a flourishing and continuous expansion.” – DR. Amitha Kalaichandran
If you haven’t read about her work, you’re missing out. From MindBodyGreen to the New York Times, I’d seen this author’s byline all over the web. After being impressed with their work more than once, I had to learn more. One look at her stacked résumé shows that this hustle and bustle of all jobs has taken on many roles in her career. As a journalist, wellness coach, researcher, yoga teacher, doctor, public health expert, and more, Kalaichandran has a unique talent for combining science and stories to inspire others to live healthier, more purposeful lives.
Despite the Beethoven and Shakespeare’s of the world, we are not all born with a purpose that motivates us. IIn fact, our collective paths to self-discovery and growth are usually non-linear, and there is always room to switch gears and do something else. To me, Kalaichandran is living proof that you can have more than one purpose in life.
So read on to learn more about how to find your purpose from Kalaichandran. It turns out the answer is easier than meets the eye, but it starts by looking outside of yourself.
1 of 4
Photo by Riley Blanks
Pay attention to your surroundings.
Like so many others, Kalaichandran discovered her passion for health and wellbeing through adversity. “My experience at the residence exposed me to a side of health care that I didn’t know existed before: medical training, and particularly the hospital environment, which leads to poor well-being and burnout,” she says. “This is often secondary to executives who don’t know how to effectively manage harassment and abuse, administrative burdens and pressures to care for complex patients with limited resources (namely, time).”
Kalaichandran realized that there were loopholes in the system that held both doctors and patients back. “This was a lightbulb moment for me in many ways as it impacts patient care (e.g. medical errors possibly covered up), staff burnout, turnover and transfer, and also leads to tragedies like doctor / trainee can suicide. And while there is a lot of discussion about “wellness” initiatives and I am personally trained in many of these aspects (mindfulness, for example), these are ultimately unsustainable patch solutions unless we address the root cause as we do for patients complex diseases would do.
“So for me it was about seeing a general theme in my own environment and the agency that I had to change locally and on a larger scale.”
After Kalaichandran noticed the pattern that kept repeating itself, he knew things had to change. “Ultimately, it’s our job as doctors to make patients better, but often we have to step back and look at the systems that are making them sick,” she adds. “And seeing that one version of these systems usually makes doctors uncomfortable and therefore unable to play the healing roles they were trained to play and patients deserve.”
Find out what drives you.
“I tend to see ‘purpose’ as the result of a confluence of opportunity, luck, careful thought and reflection, experience and intrinsic motivational factors.
Kalaichandran does not believe that people are born with a purpose. “The Japanese idea of ’Ikigai“is a great model of purpose as it describes the intersection of a wide variety of factors, including what the world needs and what our talents enable.” Basically, your ikigai is the reason you get up in the morning and your greatest motivator in work and life.
It explains how our lives begin to shape what drives us towards our goal, and sometimes our greatest motivators are born out of struggle. “For example, we’ve heard of many trailblazers who turned tragedy into ‘purpose’ – the entire #MeToo movement is based on it,” she says. There is an advocacy component: an idea that many victims are encouraged to change broader systems. And Viktor Frankl is perhaps one of the best-known examples. He used his horrific experience in a concentration camp during the Holocaust as a catalyst to delve deeper into what it means to create meaningful lives and the power of our minds: he envisioned another ending to his story and made it a reality. “
Overall, finding your true calling is more than just searching for the soul. You need to be an active participant in the world around you, which sometimes involves leaving your comfort zone. Kalaichandran adds: “Similar to the purpose, [our passions are] based on the experiences and opportunities we are exposed to, the people we encounter, and our ability to bend over in discomfort. For example, someone might have a passion for something even if they don’t have an innate talent. But he might just be motivated enough to work on what is both passionate and driven by it. “
2 of 4
Sometimes we need to drown out the excessive noise in our lives to get in touch with what is really important to us. Kalaichandran explains the importance of making time for distractions (this includes work, but also people who don’t inspire or motivate you). Some find journaling helps, or sketching roadmaps, or creating vision boards – these can be helpful in sorting the levels we really want in general (not just finding our purpose) and visualizing something in concrete terms. “
We can also start by questioning some things that we normally wouldn’t question.
“Questions are probably a better approach: take each experience and start with, ‘What could this teach me? What’s the opportunity here that isn’t so obvious? ‘”
Establish a sense of direction.
If you’re still feeling lost, Kalaichandran explains how reformulating your mindset and behaving positively can open up new possibilities. “We might want to rethink what ‘lost feeling’ or ‘missing direction’ really means because both are just elements of freedom and are not constrained by any particular narrative, system, or set of external expectations. As such, these moments can really be incredible starting points for a better, healthier direction in life. ”
It’s also important not to overthink things. For example, simply “being a mother” or “making positive contributions to my community” are great aspirations to work towards.
3 of 4
Maria Popova said it best: “Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.”
Our culture tends to have a fixed mindset about “holding on to your guns,” but true conviction can come from giving ourselves permission to go in a different direction. Kalaichandran explains how “a sense of intention can seem lofty and ephemeral: it can and should change.”
In addition, people have become increasingly risk averse, and I know firsthand that switching changes in life can be associated with a lot of fear and fear. That being said, many successful people attribute these pivots to finding what they call their true calling. Kalaichandran reminds us that it is important to take notes and gain inspiration by reaching out to others.
“Evaluate your options, sketch a roadmap based on what feels right and what others came before you possibly followed (knowing your path will be unique),” she tells me. “And I want to reiterate the importance of maintaining healthy social connections that are supportive and enriching. Frankl talks about it again. This meaning [our purpose] is a bit of an anchor that keeps us stable regardless of the tides (which inevitably change for us all at different times). ”
Create space for curiosity and connection.
“Curiosity is the basis for asking important questions about purpose and meaning,” explains Kalaichandran. To make room for these things in our lives, she recommends that we “maintain time and, if possible, maintain healthy social connections (and draw boundaries around those who are unhealthy – this could mean that those who withdraw from the spirit, getting jealous, etc. “To learn how to say yes to things that really ignite your soul and have the courage to reject things that aren’t the key to figuring out what makes you thrive,” she says .
4 of 4
Find abundance in the process.
“That might sound clichéd, but it’s the biggest misunderstanding [about fulfillment] For me it’s a goal. “
Kalaichandran says we need to find joy in the process and our goal should help us ground what is really important. “Something might feel fulfilling one day and not another day (remember being a kid when it was best to have a certain toy and how it wouldn’t fulfill you now!).” While milestones and achievements are important to celebrate, they are ultimately fleeting. Our goal should be based on something deeper, like “live authentically every day” or “inspire others to be more creative”.
When you switch to an attitude of gratitude, you not only become happier, but also open doors to new opportunities. Kalaichandran says this includes “being present with what you have, what you are doing (even if you plan to get out of that particular“ doing ”), being grateful for the abundance that is in the world and in our lives exists (even when it doesn’t always feel plentiful) wondering how to make sense and make a difference with the skills and opportunities you get and what you deserve. ”
According to Dr. Amitha the best books to find your purpose Kalaichandran::
She also recommends reading these one by one (different approaches to a similar topic):
1. Going up high – Brené Brown
2. Going out – Elizabeth Lesser
3. Defy the wilderness – Brené Brown (The first two deal with resilience and the last with developing a new path.
4. Runaway and David and Goliath – both by Malcolm Gladwell (this is about success in general and success against all odds)
More information on Kalaichandran’s work can be found on her website and on Twitter. She is currently working on it first book, About healing I’m coming in 2022 and I can’t wait to read it.