In this installment of our series with Stem’s Artist-in-Residence, Kiran Gandhi, we discuss her Theory of Atomic Living and how it can benefit creators.
Access breeds diversification. We live in a world where any bit of information we can imagine is available to us through the Internet. This access to information, the ability we have now more than ever to self-educate, gather support and distribute content anywhere in the world, is unprecedented. Our generation is the first of many that will no longer be compartmentalized and forced to nourish only one discipline.
Our ability to have several high-priority interests is still being met with the idea that we should live our lives according to The Formula. The Formula, the tried-and-true paradigm of go to college, get a job and stay on that path forever, is one chosen by many. However, for those with a diversified skillset and array of interests like Kiran Gandhi, the one-track formula is not enough, and thus spawned the Theory of Atomic Living.
“Atomic Living was just happening normally. I was never a kid who could respond to this very organized way of thinking, which is, ‘What’s your 10 year plan, and how do you prepare for this life mission?’ I never knew what my life mission was, so I would always live moment-to-moment. And while others externally, maybe my parents or friends or those that would try to advise me may think I was disorganized, each new success made me feel like I was really on to something.”
What exactly is Atomic Living? According to Gandhi, it begins with identifying what is most important to you. For her, this includes feminism, drumming, the music industry, friends and family. Once the important factors of one’s life are identified, Atomic Living suggests that a spontaneous action should be pursued if it can nourish one or more of these factors.
“Once I achieved this moment where I was touring the world with M.I.A., who was my favorite artist, as her drummer, simultaneously pursuing my MBA at the top business school in the world [Harvard], I felt very empowered by my way of doing things instead of being told that it was wrong. So I studied it and I made it a pattern, and I called it Atomic Living.”
Consider the idea in a real-life example. While at Harvard, Gandhi often felt pressured to go out and socialize:
“They say, ‘Oh, you have to network. You have to meet all these people…’ And I would say, ‘No, I don’t want to go to a bar. There’s 80 people talking, none of them can hear each other, and they’re definitely not gonna remember this conversation with me, let alone my name. I would prefer to sleep tonight and get energized for my class in the morning, which does have the potential to nourish my passion for the music industry.’ This is how I think about Atomic Living. It makes my choices a lot easier.”
How can creators apply this idea of Atomic Living to their own lives? Gandhi points out that in order for a modern creator to succeed, it is important to exploit many different artisan skill sets in a constructive manner, “… I use ‘exploiting’ in the most positive way. Really building upon our skill sets instead of saying we only have to do our drumming, or only do our day job, or only do our family. We have to balance everything.”
Atomic Living suggests that humans, especially creators, can find ways to marry and pursue their different interests in a way that creates a unique path specific to them. If you love making videos and enjoy cinematography, perhaps take a film class in order to nourish your interest in cinematography while enabling your passions to create videos to flourish. If you enjoy helping others, providing guidance and playing music, perhaps pursuing music therapy is an avenue that will serve those interests; the key to success in this frame of mind is finding balance.
“Atomic living enables [balance], and even more so, I think can have you use one part of your soul and your mind to subsidize and nourish another part of your soul and mind. I want those parts to coexist, and actually to enable each other, instead of for them to always seem they are conflicting with each other. The way society has organized our brains is to think, ‘Oh, if you’re a doctor, that means you can’t be a musician at night. And if you’re a musician, you can’t have a serious job by day.’ Well, what I’ve tried to do is make my day focused on the music industry, so that everything I learn by day affects what I’m doing at night, which is performing and building my own music career. I want to live a holistic life where these parts of my brain help each other.”
As we move into a new year, we task each of you to define the factors that are most important to you. Then, spend all of 2016 making choices that serve and uplift these factors. Atomic Living is a step in the direction of living a more balanced life; instead of following The Formula, use Atomic Living to create your own.
Learn more about Kiran Gandhi here.
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