You think you‘ve got problems? Here are stories of people who transcended their life circumstances and proved that the human spirit is more powerful than what most people know.
These stories can give us great inspiration. They can help us put our daily problems in perspective, when we see how small they are in comparison with what these people went through or accomplished. If they could do it, and still managed to be happy, and to reach achievements that are impressive even to a “normal” person, then what excuse do we have in our life?
These stories can give us an emotional pointer, an emotional experience of relief, inspiration, or “I can too!” You are invited to send us additional stories and videos about people that inspired you, that made you say: “Wow, if they went through such an ordeal and flourished, then I too can do amazing things!”
Warning: Per the request of some readers, this warning has been added: The first three chapters below (survival, transcending physical limitations, and transcending accidents) contain stories and pieces that may be emotionally difficult for some people to read or view, although their message is the enormous power of the human spirit to overcome great obstacles. It is recommended only to those who understand this point and can get inspired by such stories. The other chapters below are suitable for everyone.
- Stanislavsky Lech: Escaped a Nazi extermination camp by posing as dead in a pile of corpses.
- The pianist: The story of Władysław Szpilman, a Jewish Polish pianist who survived the holocaust in various hiding places.
- People who had to cut their own organs in order to survive
Transcending physical limitations
- Ed Roberts: His entire body (except for two fingers) became paralyzed due to polio at the age of 14. He had to sleep in an iron lung, and swallow air in order to breath. He saw himself as a star. He got a masters degree in political science from the university of Berkley, and started a Ph.D. He became a known activist for handicapped rights, and the first handicapped person who was appointed as the administrator of the office for the rehabilitation of handicapped in California.
- Nick Vujicic: He was born without arms and legs. He finished an BA degree in accounting and financial planning, and became a popular motivational speaker that gave talks in front of millions.
Lecture [part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5], interview. He also got married and had a baby.
- Kyle Maynard: A similar story. Became a world class athlete, and also crawled to the top of mount Kilimanjaro. video.
- Tawana Williams: She was born without hands because of Thalidomide. She was a drug addict, but recovered, wrote a book, and inspired people. video.
- Helen Keller: She became deaf and blind when she was 1.5 years old. She finished a university degree with distinction, and became a world renowned speaker, an author, and a known social activist.
- Peter Strudwick: He was born without palms and feet, and became a marathon runner.
- Stephen Hawking: A physics professor who was diagnosed with a degenerative disease (ALS) that gradually made his entire body paralyzed, except for his brain and one finger which he uses to activate a special computer that allows him to communicate with the world, write books (one letter at a time), and become a cultural icon.
- W Mitchell: When he was 28, his motorbike slipped and collided with a truck. Most of his body including his face got burned, and he lost all his fingers. If that’s not enough, four years later, a plane he was flying crashed, and he became parapallegic from the waist down. But he remained optimistic, became a pilot, founded a company and became a millionaire, was elected as mayor of a town, got married, and was a congressional candidate. video, life story [part 1, part 2, part 3] – At the end of part 3 he says that he would not exchange what he learned for anything.
- Morris E. Goodman: He was in a plane crash, his spine shattered and he became completely paralyzed and also lost the ability to speak. Thanks to his strong belief in his ability to recover, within half a year he regained his ability to speak and walk.
- Marilyn Hamilton: She fell off a cliff and became paralyzed from the waist down. She was not satisfied with her wheelchair, so she founded a company for better wheelchairs, and became a millionaire.
- Arthur Boorman: A US soldier who was wounded in his back and knees during the Gulf War, and then gained a lot of weight and could barely walk with crutches. By using Yoga and changing his diet, he managed to lose 140 lb in 10 months and regain his ability to walk and run. More.
- Amy Cuddy: She was in an accident when she was 19, her IQ dropped by two standard deviations, and she was told she had no chance to complete her degree. She fought to do it anyway, and continued her studies in Princeton and Harvard. video.
- Candy Lightner: Her 13-year old son was killed in a car accident by a drunk driver in a hit-and-run, and the court gave the driver a light sentence, even though it wasn’t the first time he was caught driving while drunk. She established the organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving, to inform and advance legislation against drunk driving.
- The Shawshank Redemption: Andy Dufresne, who is sentenced to life in prison for a murder he did not commit, manages to become a favorite of the prison warden, and eventually to escape through a tunnel he dug with a small hammer.
- Gattaca: In a future world with eugenics and discrimination against genetically “inferior” people, Vincent Freeman, who was born with a high probability of several medical disorders, succeeds against all odds to fool the system and join the space program.
- Rosa Parks: A black woman that refused to obey racial segregation laws on a bus in southern USA, an event that ignited demonstrations and eventually led to the abolition of these racist laws.
- Mahatma Gandhi: Led the movement in India for independence from the ruling British Empire.
- Jim Arruda Henry: First learned to read and write at the age of 92, and wrote a book at the age of 98.
- Hulda Crooks: At the age of 65 she started a new hobby – mountain climbing. Until she was 91, she climbed to the top of mountains over 100 times, including mount Fuji in Japan at the age of 91. A mountain top and a park were named after her to honor her achievements.
- Jeanne Daprano: 76-year-old woman breaks world records in running.
Stories that go beyond the familiar, and raise doubt on our basic assumptions about reality: Superhumans, link.
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