Every One of Us Has a Calling What’s Yours?
by Alphonsus Obayuwana, M.D., Ph.D.

The Happiness Formula, A Scientific, Groundbreaking Approach to Happiness and Personal Fulfillment

As humans, one of the most remarkable of our universally shared endowments is the capacity to hope, which grants each of us the ability to dream and the strength to pursue the goal that arises out of our imagined possibilities.

In addition to this amazing capability to hope, that we all share, each one of us is also individually and uniquely gifted with an exceptional talent in one or two particular areas of human endeavors—such as music, poetry, mathematics, carpentry, masonry, law, entertainment, engineering, business, parenting, oratory, surgery, sports, or journalism. A successful discovery of one’s true calling (when combined with the capacity to hope) can make an immense difference in the quality and scope of personal achievements and overall fulfillment in life.

Lamentably, many live their entire lives without ever identifying their true calling. Consequently, they never achieve their full potential and become optimally accomplished or fulfilled. I have often wondered what could have become of Mozart and Marie Curie if their talent in music and science had never been unmasked. What other possible endeavors could they have pursued as successfully, and how accomplished or consequential to humanity would they have turned out to be under this alternative scenario?

Some of us seem to luckily “stumble” on our true calling purely by chance—and as a result become quite successful and accomplished in life. Such was the case with Dan Gilbert, the now world-famous psychologist who at the age of 19 was a high school dropout daydreaming about writing science fiction. When he attempted to enroll in a creative writing class at a community college, the class was already full and he instead registered in the only available course—which happened to be psychology. There, he found his true passion and the opportunity to express his latent aptitude in the study of human behavior.

He excelled and ultimately earned a doctorate in psychology at Princeton University, became a professor of psychology at Harvard, and wrote a best seller on the subject of Happiness with translations made available in over 20 languages due to popular demand. Among his other many laurels was the Phi Beta Kappa Award for excellence in teaching—all made possible as a result of the serendipitous discovery of his true niche.

More often, there is usually a provoking event that ignites the hidden talent or awakens a latent passion in many of us, and ultimately causes us to soar, sometimes much farther than we ever dreamed. Such a triggering event or incidental catalyst commonly arises in one of four possible situations:

  1. As a result of a transformative relationship or encounter with an iconic personality
  2. Following a momentous spiritual inspiration or profound religious experience
  3. After a painful loss, severe deprivation, or tragic event
  4. During an occasion of personal curiosity or solemn introspection.

Curiosity was the trigger in the case of Adam Steltzner, a young man who floundered around seemingly without any aim in life. He was a wannabe hard rock star with pierced ears and a funny haircut. His apparent priorities during high school were sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll. Even his father believed Adam would never amount to anything other than a ditch digger.

One night, while on his way home after playing bass guitar at a club, Adam became fascinated after he happened to observe the movements of the stars in the constellation of Orion. Though at the time he was a high school dropout, he became somehow driven by personal curiosity to enroll in an elementary physics course at a community college to gain some basic understanding of the movements of stars in the sky. While attending that class, he suddenly got intellectually hooked, found his true niche, and eventually ended up with a doctoral degree in physics. He later became a top rocket scientist and eventually the team leader of the NASA unit that designed, built, and directed the unmanned space exploratory rover named Curiosity, which successfully landed on Mars on August 5, 2012.

As inspiring and enviable as these two stories are, it is of course never advisable to leave one’s fate and fulfillment in life entirely to chance by passively waiting until a sudden event or encounter, misfortune or tragedy jolts us into action on the right path. On the contrary, these stories, more importantly, reveal that each of us has a calling waiting to be unveiled so we can be set free to soar, if and when we also have the right dose of hope and the power to dream.

During my thirty-five years of research on the subject of Human Hope, including a thorough review of hundreds of biographies, I have consistently found that those who are full of hope and pursuing their passion are invariably the ones who ultimately achieve sustained satisfaction and true contentment in life. I believe that when the human capacity to hope is combined with the pursuit of one’s true calling, a life of fulfillment is not only predictable but inevitable.

Accordingly, my sole recommendation to anyone who wants to achieve a truly gratifying and fulfilling life is to first and foremost, find your true calling.

To achieve this very important task:

  1. Identify an endeavor (a job or a hobby) that you are truly passionate about.
  2. Make sure it is inclusive and relevant to other people or somewhat altruistic.
  3. It must make good economic sense or be financially sustainable.
  4. It must be challenging enough, engaging, and enjoyable to you.
  5. And lastly, it must have some spiritual appeal or be somehow wholesome.

In other words, to find your true calling, identify a passionate niche that takes care of you (yourself), makes others happy, and is resource-reasonable, occupationally challenging, and wholesome. Any job or hobby that meets these five criteria is most possibly your true calling or life mission. It requires self, others, resources, knowledge, and soul—to flourish. SORKS for short.


For more details, see The Happiness Formula, A Scientific, Groundbreaking Approach to Happiness and Personal Fulfillment (2024).

Alphonsus Obayuwana, M.D., Ph.D.Alphonsus Obayuwana, MD, Ph.D., CPC, is a physician-scientist, a happiness coach, and the founder and CEO of Triple-H Project LLC, an entity that trains and certifies happiness coaches. He is a Literary Titan Gold Award–winning author who has published several peer-reviewed articles in the national medical journals about human hope and happiness. His other works include How to Live a Life of Hope (2022), The Five Sources of Human Hope (2012), Hope and Pregnancy Outcome (1984) and Hope Index Scale (1980). His newest book is The Happiness Formula. Dr. Obayuwana is also a retired major in the United States Air Force (Reserve), and is married to Ann Louis, his wife of 47 years.





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