Stephen Hawking left us at 76 years of age. The one man who was able to explain the cosmos to us and to theorize about the beginning of everything. But if there was one challenge he faced all his life, it was the Lou Gehrig’s disease, a motor neuron illness that paralyzed him over decades. With the help of technology, he was able to continue to share his brilliance and was even able to author books and research. If there is a legacy left here, it is this: the brain can be greater than the body and disabilities.
Physical Illness by the Numbers
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2011 statistics on disabilities worldwide states that about 15% of the global population live with impairments. Up to 4% involve problems with functioning at all on a physical level. Though this may appear as a small fraction globally, the impact these handicaps have on the lives of these people is immense in ways most of us will never understand.
Let us take the case of Hawking as an example. Stephen Hawking was plagued by the motor neuron disease in his adulthood. Considering his case of awareness of the loss of mobility, it could have devastated him. But what was inspiring in the life of the late Physicist was that he did not allow the illness to take control of him.
Thoughts and their Manifestations
Mind over matter – that is what most of us say. Scientifically, it has been proven that our thoughts manifest everywhere, especially in our bodies. When we keep on focusing on the negative, we continuously produce toxicities in ourselves both physically and emotionally. As a result, most of us harvest ill feelings and unhealthy bodies.
If we wanted to get technical about it, it would look like this: our thoughts affect our neurotransmitters by sending out signals that are then interpreted by the body. It prepares it for the fight or flight response. Thus, if the brain cultivates negative ideas, it sends out a negative signal to the body with impacts on the immune system and overall well-being.
Overcoming Disabilities with the Mind
As such, one way of beating the limitations that physical challenges place on people disabilities is by learning to cultivate positivity. This can be done by training the mind to rather see opportunities in any situation regardless of how feeble it may be.
Some people think that persons with disabilities have limited societal functions and privileges. Nonetheless, what they do not understand is that a lot of organizations have been established to cater to the needs of these people and that includes landing them a stable job.
Stephen Hawking had been paralyzed from neck to foot and even lost his ability to speak. In fact, the only reason he was able to communicate was the usage of a machine that read aloud the words he typed using his cheek muscle.
Looking at the life he lived tells us this: Hawking’s existence postulated that we could always find a way to work things out. But that is only if we move away from our focus on physical limitations to what our minds are still capable of.
Disabilities and Societal Function
Most people equate physical disability to living a life less meaningful. They think that their physical challenges forbid them to highly function in society. What they do not know is a lot of organizations help people deal with their illnesses. People with disabilities are even offered real jobs as well.
A study from the European Journal of Disability Research states that people with hearing or sight impairments are also given a high probability of landing a job. However, these illnesses are not only defined by sense impairment but could also refer to any physical deformity too.
Stephen Hawking Took the Challenge
We are not saying that a person with any physical or sensory impairment would need to be as grandiose as Stephen Hawking, but what we are saying is that, in order to beat the illness, they ought to make their eagerness stronger than their limits. They have to be confident and strong. They also need to understand that society today has advanced so much in technology and other aspects that we have been prepared for them to be part of it. All they need to do is to be confident enough to take their role.
Remember, disabled people no longer exist. Only those that are differently abled. If Stephen Hawking, the paralyzed man himself, couldn’t convince you of the power of your mind, we do not know what else could.
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