Good and bad experiences are a part of everyone’s lives. How we react to them makes all the difference.

I am very passionate about dentistry. Every time I enhance a patient’s smile, and thus their confidence, it makes me feel alive. However, after I lost someone close to my family to oral cancer, I was devastated. I had witnessed the journey of that prolonged suffering over a period of two years. I then decided life was too short and I didn’t want to wait till I was old enough to make a difference to the world. 

I channelled my grief into my purpose. My NGO was born with the aim of ‘empowerment through healthcare’ by working towards spreading cancer awareness for women while also providing preventive care for oral cancer and other commonly occurring types of cancer. I also realised that underprivileged women were the ones who got the least opportunities, especially when it came to preventive healthcare. These are the events that propelled me towards doing what I am doing today.

Whether I talk about my dental practice or the non-profit I run for underprivileged women and children, it is hard to say that I received my inspiration from any other way other than the bad experiences in my life. In fact, I would highly recommend one book that has really inspired me, called The Obstacle is the Way, by Ryan Holiday. It actually says that by simply changing your attitude, the things that seem like insurmountable obstacles become once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. When something blocks our path, it actually opens up a new one.

I just want to say two things. Whatever you are going through right now, you will be past it one day—provided you have full faith in your abilities and the courage to act on them. You will always have that inner voice that doubts and questions. It is your protective instinct, and it can get negative sometimes, but that is okay. You have to resolve that voice of its concerns and then swiftly act upon it, with courage and with full faith in your own abilities.

I believe we can create the person we want to be—even through bad experiences in life—through self-love practices, of which there are three important pillars. 

The first is mental health, which means keeping your mind healthy through practices like meditation and journaling, both of which I do a lot on a daily basis to keep my thoughts more organised and my mind calmer. 

The second is physical health, of which good diet and exercise are an essential part. 

The final one is emotional health, which is extremely important for our well-being. Being emotionally healthy means having healthy interpersonal relationships and a social circle of a few friends who truly cherish you. Eliminate contact with anyone who doesn’t give you good vibes, and appreciate people who appreciate you.

Here are a few tips that have really helped me channelise my inner self for strength and purpose during tough times:

  • Know and choose your purpose that fulfils you. Have a vision board. In my case, my dental practice and NGO are constantly on my vision board. (Tip: A purpose that serves other people or benefits others makes you feel really fulfilled.)
  • Be aware of your goals and have a detailed, written plan on how you will achieve them.
  • Any event that is unpleasant feels like that simply because it puts you far away from the purpose or goal you’re trying to achieve. 

Make a list of ways you can counteract this event in the best, most sensible possible way for you to come closer to your goals once again!

  • Start working on the list.
  • Kill it!

Finally, I want to conclude by saying that overcoming setbacks is a form of self-love. When you learn to love yourself, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful things; better than you ever dreamed of!


  • Dr Karishma Vijan

    Dental Surgeon, Author, Philanthropist

    Dr Karishma Vijan is a Mumbai-based practising dentist focusing on cosmetic and restorative dentistry. She has written articles for several national and international scientific journals. After losing a close family acquaintance to cancer, and witnessed the prolonged suffering that came with the disease, Dr Vijan was devastated. She did not want to wait till she was 'old enough' to make a difference to the world through her professional  skills or her intention of philanthropy. She decided to turn her loss into purpose, and thus was born The Unicorn Xpress Foundation & Trust (Tux). The nonprofit's motto is ‘Empowerment through Healthcare’ and it works with underprivileged women across several cities in India. Dr Vijan has received the WEF 2019 prestigious ‘Iconic Women Creating a Better World for All’ award, and has been invited as speaker at Plenary Sessions at the annual international gathering gala edition for the Women Economic Forum, 2019. She has also been named one of the 'Most Inspiring Women in Healthcare across India' as a part of the Bumble Bizz campaign for women. Dr Vijan was also featured in the list of ‘100 Most Impactful Global Healthcare Leaders' at the World Health & Wellness Congress 2019 by ET Now.