When there is life, there is hope! Lessons from Stephen hawking’s true life story.
True life stories/autobiographies are inspiring because they arouse strong emotions- pain, joy, love, failures and success. Little wonder, I was drawn to the movie ‘The theory of everything’. It is the story of Stephen Hawking , he is considered one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Einstein. He authored a brief history of time, an international best seller, From 1979 to 2009 he was the Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, a position held by Isaac Newton in 1663. Professor Hawking has over a dozen honorary degrees.
Stephen’s achievements are endless but one thing some people don’t know about the name is that Stephen Hawking got ALS, a motor neuron disease at the age of 21 and was given two years to live. The miracle is that he is still alive today at 74! Inspite of physical incapacitation, being wheelchair bound and losing his vocal ability. He also got married, has 3 children and 3 grand-children. Inspite of this disease, he went on to achieve all these.
When I watched his autobiography, I cried! Not once, Not twice but three times. First were tears of pain, next were tears of awe for the wife that made his life meaningful and the last were tears of hope when he left that wife for another woman and later mildly reunited with her.
I also learnt some lessons on hope.
- Love & Hope Overcome Hopelessness. When Stephen was diagnosed with ALS, he was extremely sad and almost gave up on life. On the contrary, his girlfriend Jane Wilde was full of hope, insisted they got married and was positive. For her, even if Stephen had only 2 years to live, their love and life must blossom whilst they had it. Her positivism, hope and their engagement eventually overwhelmed Stephen’s grief and ignited his own inner fight. Lesson: When you are faced with hopeless situations, it is important to have something to look forward to, build a confidant who has enough hope to re-ignite yours. Their wedding picture below
- Keep your mind busy: In times of hopelessness, take charge of your mind. ‘Everything is created twice! First in the mind, then in reality’. When Stephen was told he had ALS disease and was going to lose his motor skills, he asked a key question: ‘Does it affect my mind’? That is DEEP. He knew that his mind was his BIGGEST asset. When his legs, hands, voice stopped working, he buried his MIND in physics. When you are faced with hopelessness, read uplifting books, watch educative and engaging documentaries, read about people that turned their grass stories to graceful legacies. OCCUPY your mind with positive, energizing content, not JUNK.
- When you fall, rise and ADAPT: The first time Stephen fell down on campus, he was despondent. After that, falling almost became part of his life. He fell down the staircase at home in front of his kids, he moved from walking on his two feet unsupported to walking with 1 cane, then 2 canes, then manual wheelchair, then automated wheels. He went from feeding himself to being fed, from carrying things to being carried and lost his voice. After losing this voice, he had to learn how to speak through a machine that reads his single cheek muscle movement. All through this, he kept adapting. To overcome hopelessness, you must adapt and overcome challenges as they arise.
- Take your eyes off the issues and focus on your strengths: While Stephen was losing his motor skills, he never made his life about the problems. He rarely talked about the disease. Instead, he focused on his biggest strength- his deep understanding of physics, space, science and his academics. If you are faced with a hopeless situation, do not dwell on it! Rather, focus on the things you are very good at. No Matter how hopeless your situation is, there must be 1 thing you are good at and 1 thing to be grateful for. FOCUS ON THEM. WORK your strengths.
- You always have choices. This is the part that truly shocked me. Can you imagine that after Jane his wife stood by him for 20+ years, all through the surgeries, birthed their children in his physical state, nursed him and their children, motivated him, he left her! Yes he left her because he sensed Jane developed romantic feelings for another man and she only remained because she was dutiful to him. He didn’t want pity or obligation. He wanted the deep love they had at the beginning. In his state, in a wheelchair with no voice, he fell in love again. Whilst the 2nd marriage eventually led to a divorce, the fact that he believed he had choices blew my mind! Lesson: No matter your situation, there are choices all around you. Be brave enough to try them out.
- You are in that situation to be a source of hope to someone else Today, Stephen is a role model for millions of people with special needs. Lesson: Whatever situation you will pass and your testimony will bless others.
Recap: Hope always wins, Occupy your Mind, Take your eyes away from the issues and work your strengths, you have choices, adapt and be a source of inspiration to others. All these and faith in GOD will surely see you through. You have the right to be happy.
Comments? Please share and encourage someone today.
Reference and picture credit: http://www.hawking.org.uk/films.html & theory of everything movie.