In the blink of an eye life can change. I was reminded of this fact when I attended a fundraising gala on Tuesday.
When a skiing accident left Mike Shaw paralyzed from the neck down, he didn’t accept the prognosis of his doctors. Rather than agreeing with their verdict that he’d never have the use of his limbs again, he chose to believe in the possibility of healing and recovery.
His story was even more amazing as I watched him move gracefully around the stage. There was absolutely nothing in his movements that indicated the struggle he’d been through.
I’m not suggesting that everyone who suffers a life-altering accident can heal so completely, but it happens. Shaw isn’t the only person I know who has successfully taught himself to walk again. I have a close friend who has done it twice in her adult life.
You may never have endured a catastrophic accident but that doesn’t mean you’ve never been hurt or needed to heal yourself. Sometimes mental or emotional disasters can be just as devastating.
Shaw’s experience was a reminder of how powerful the brain is and just how little we understand its complexity. It’s not only the source of amazing ideas, great literature, art and music, it’s also responsible for violence, racism, war and addiction.
I don’t know why it’s possible for some people to heal themselves and not others. But those who overcome amazing odds seem to share a strong sense of hope and belief.
Shaw stayed open to the possibility he could prove his doctors wrong. This thought offered him hope.
Hope isn’t about simply wishing for something. It brings with it a sense of belief. In turn, belief makes you more likely to look for ways to navigate your way through adversity to achieve your desired goal.
As with happiness, research shows hope brings with it a bevy of benefits. Hopefulness has been linked to improved physical and emotional health. It encourages people to choose new behaviours. When you believe in the possibility of good things ahead, it motivates you to develop new habits to support that brighter future.
Hope won’t erase your past. If you break your neck, you may not fully recover the use of your limbs but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a satisfying and meaningful life.
As long as a person has hope, they can recover from pretty much anything. It champions survivors in the bleakest of times. It stops you from giving up.
Human connection is important if you’re looking for hope. It’s often another person who stirs the feeling within you and can support you if you sense it slipping away.
Hope is the key to survival. It allows you to persevere, realize your dreams of a better future, and achieve what some think is impossible.
In the words of the late South African Anglican bishop Desmond Tutu, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.