Whatever your situation, odds are that you are facing an uphill battle. If you have been injured or ill then you have to get back on your feet; if you are dealing with a life changing condition, then you need to adapt. You need the tools to develop and keep up a positive attitude; to define goals and an action plan and to stay motivated and optimistic. Create a clear vision and inspiration to keep you on track.
Even if you are not facing this kind of life changing event, hopefully these skills and inspirational people will help you navigate the pathways in your life. Optimism and inspiration can always benefit you in life; they can always help you ride out the bumps.
Injuries, illness and hospital stays set us back a bit. We find ourselves pining for normality. You may even have discovered that you have to adapt to a new normal for yourself, one you cannot immediately face, never mind embrace. You have to look inside yourself for strength to deal with this latest hurdle, and outside for the inspiration and the example.
Most of us lack the experience to create a new vision for our lives. Be it a path back to whom we were or a future for ourselves that is possible with our new limitations, or a legacy beyond our short lives.
Look Outside for Inspiration
Sometimes it is easier to borrow from others and adapt it for ourselves than it is to create from scratch. It is easier to color an existing picture than to draw one of our own.
There are inspirational people whose lives will leave an indelible mark on the world due to their strength, their courage and their determination. These are people to whom we look when life gives us difficulty and see the possibilities. They vary in their accomplishments; some are athletes, others are scholars. Whether their limitations were from birth or from life, they all had to struggle through a difficult journey to be included here.
Let their strength be a message to you. If you have moments of self-pity or weakness, that is okay. That too is part of the journey. The key is to keep moving forward. The future is as you make it and there are still many, many possibilities open to you. Decide what is important and make it happen. Only you have the power to do so.
A Lasting Legacy
Live meaningfully and genuinely. According to author Bronnie Ware, a former palliative care nurse, the most common regrets she heard from dying patients were:
I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
I wish I didn’t work so hard.
I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
I wish that I had let myself be happier.
That being true, can you say that you are being true to yourself; are you living a life you want to look back on? If so, then do not change a thing, the best thing you can do is find a way to stay on your current path. If not, then what can you do to live a life you will be proud of?
There are dozens of examples of inspirational people who have chosen to make small changes in their lives to make a difference.
Randy Pausch, father & professor, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Prior to his death, he gave “The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” at Carnegie Mellon University. The lecture went viral and is still inspiring people around the world. In 2008, Randy was included in Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the Year.
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.“, Randy Pausch
Terry Fox, student & athlete, was diagnosed with cancer and had to have his leg amputated; he trained to become a marathon runner and attempted a Canadian coast to coast run. Although his illness prevented him from completing his journey, he inspired millions. So far, over $700 Million had been raised for cancer research through his foundation.
“It took cancer to realize that being self-centered is not the way to live. The answer is to try and help others.”, Terry Fox
Louise Page, charity worker & wife, just got on with her daily life. She wrote letters and prepared gifts for her loved ones for after she was gone. She also published her personal journals as a blog, to inform and inspire others; her journals are riddled with optimism, humor and honesty.
”I carried on with my Vogue subscription and my addiction to shoes (yes shoes! An amputee who loves shoes…how crazy is that?!) ”, Louise Page
What would you like to leave as a legacy? Do you want to host the best party ever for your friends? Travel the world? Own your own business? Leave your children memories to last them a lifetime? Tell your best friend how you feel about them? Only you can define what is important to you, and what successes will matter to you.
Look around and find people and things that inspire you to be the person you want to be; to live life without regret. Keep those images near and dear, so that when times are tough they can see you through.
Sometimes returning to your previous life is not possible. Often times medical setbacks can have permanent repercussions. Whether it is a chronic illness or a disability, sometimes people have to redefine what is normal. While adjustments have to be made, there is usually a way to continue with all of the things that are important to you.
Stories abound of inspirational people who have had setbacks or difficulties and have either found a way to return to their lives. It can require a few adjustments, hard work or even special equipment, but if you look around you will find countless people who are making it work.
Stephen Hawking, physicist, father & writer was diagnosed with ALS and given two years to live when he was 21 years old. He became depressed and wanted to give up; eventually, though he could not walk unassisted nor speak clearly, he returned to work. Since then his condition has continued to slowly deteriorate, and he has continued to adapt. Through it all, he has continued to study, write and teach.
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”, Stephen Hawking
Bethany Hamilton, surfer, lost her left arm to a tiger shark. Determination put her back on a custom board within a month. Eventually, she returned to a standard board and entered a major competition. Since then she has won many national and international competitions.
“I’ve learned that life is lot like surfing. When you get caught in the impact zone, you need to get right back up, because you never know what’s over the next wave. And if you have faith, anything is possible, anything at all”, Bethany Hamilton
Janine Shepherd, skier, author & pilot, was Olympic bound when a training accident left her paralyzed and she was told she would never walk again. She was still in a body cast when she took her first flying lesson. Through a slow rehabilitation process she is able to walk and has three children, she is also a trained aerobatics flying instructor
“I say to people that it’s a choice that we make every day in our lives. Doesn’t matter what you’re going through. You don’t have to be going through what I went through. But it’s whether you decide to get up or stay down, whether you say ‘yes’ or whether you say ‘no’ to life. Basically, I decided to say, ‘Yes.’”, Janine Shepherd
The Long Journey
Sometimes life throws us a curve, a temporary setback that proves our mettle. An illness or an injury, these things give us a chance to find out what we are about. What is important to us, what we want from life, what we are capable of.
Studies show that we experience positive change as a result of adversity and challenges. Post-traumatic growth does not mean returning to life as we previously lived it, but to undergo a significant shift in thinking that is can be very meaningful. It often results in reacting less dramatically to, and recovering more quickly from change. This means not just showing resilience and returning to your previous level of functioning. It means Thriving, which means exceeding the previous level, and finding benefits within the challenge.
Sean Swarmer, writer & athlete, has successfully fought two separate, normally fatal cancers, first Hodgkin’s Disease and later Askin’s sarcoma. After being given only two weeks to live, he went on to complete an ironman and to climb Mount Everest.
“During both the day and night, I focused on feeling better and not letting any negative thoughts into my head. It’s amazing how mental being physical can be . . .”, Sean Swarmer
Jane McGonigal, game designer, suffered a concussion that resulted months of recovery time without work or real leisure. She could not do most of her favorite activities, and sunk into significant depression. To help her recovery, she designed a game, SuperBetter that has inspired hundreds of people.
“Although I’m perceived as very optimistic and upbeat, it comes out of being the opposite of that – feeling isolated or lonely, looking for meaning and the kinds of things that ease that suffering in life, and finding them in large-scale social interaction, like theater and games.”, Jane McGonigal
Blake Beckford, body builder & model, had a rare bowel condition, ulcerative colitis that required 3 surgeries to remove his colon and be fitted with an ileostomy bag. He was told he would no longer be able to stay in the kind of physical condition required to model. He has adjusted his exercises, but he has returned to having a body most people only dream about. Medical journals have even documented his methods.
“I wanted to inspire people who had gone through my problems to give them hope during the low points.”, Blake Beckford
Although there are many examples, the best inspiration is the one nearest to you. It may be someone who shares your goals, your challenges or your geography. Whoever it is, it should be someone meaningful to you, someone who inspires you to be better than you think you can be.
You may wonder why inspiration is so important. Recovery from any extended illness or injury is long and difficult; there are days where you wonder if it worth it, or if you are even capable of it. Whatever you can find that keeps you on track, that keeps you focused, and motivated is valuable. Knowing that others have lived your journey and thrived is important in reinforcing that you can do it too.
You can also read about My Inspiration