Stephen Hawking: Turning the odds into opportunities

However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. ~ Stephen HawkingBritish theoretical physicist, cosmologist and known genius Stephen Hawking was born with a keen sense of wonder and inquisitiveness, love for science and a brilliant mind. But, at the take-off point of his highly engrossing career as a physicist, life played a terrible move.

Stephen was diagnosed with an incapacitating disorder Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) – a degenerative disorder that affects the nerves that control voluntary motor functions, leading to atrophy of muscular function – when he was just 21. His diagnosis came as a complete shock to him and his family, who were told that nothing could be done about his condition. The disease would eventually rob him of his breathing, leading to pneumonia and a slow death, they said. He was told he had only two years to live.

Hawking slipped into a terrible depression, often locked himself up in a room and listened to complex opera music.

Every cloud has a silver lining

While undergoing tests for ALS, Hawking witnessed a boy suffering from leukaemia die on the bed next to his. He realised that there were people who were suffering more than he was. “At least my condition didn’t make me feel sick. Whenever I feel inclined to be sorry for myself, I remember that boy.”

Hawking had a series of dreams while in the hospital – one in which he was going to be executed and realised how many fruitful things he could do if he was pardoned; and another in which he believed he could sacrifice his life to do good for others and make their lives worth living.

It dawned on Hawking that he couldn’t just sit around depressed, and do nothing with his life. Fearing that he had less time to live and that he wouldn’t be able to contribute as much as he wanted to the world, Hawking immersed himself into his study.

He not only defied the two-year notice given to him, but also authored many scientific papers and publications – the most famous being “The Brief History of Time”. Hawking made some great friends during his research, and fell in love with a girl, whom he later married.

Action Summary:

  • Look for a silver lining in every difficult situation. Empower yourself to rise above the difficulty and thrive.

  • Cultivate a strong will power within yourself. Fuel it with positivity and a focused attitude.

~ Atrija Gaur