Stephen Hawking on Happiness and Expectation

Disappointment, failure, and tragedy feel like tiresome in-laws. But it’s better to invite them in for coffee than to kick them out.

A life of ease makes you weak. But don’t pursue difficulty. It finds you all by itself – just like falling down finds toddlers.

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Doctors predicted Stephen Hawking would die in youth. He died on March 14, 2018. He was 76.

At the age of 21, he was diagnosed with a motor neuron disease that left him paralyzed. (A.L.S.)

Dr. Hawking gave his last public lecture on November 21, 2017.

He kept his humor. At the beginning of his talk he said, “I was born on January 8, 1942 exactly 300 years after the death of Galileo. However, I estimate that about 200,000 other babies were also born that day.”

Happy and paralyzed:

“After my expectations were reduced to zero, every new day became a bonus. And I began to appreciate everything I did have.” Stephen Hawking

“I don’t have much positive to say about motor neuron disease. But it taught me not to pity myself, because others were worse off and to get on with what I still could do.

I’m happier now than before I developed the condition.

I am lucky to be working in theoretical physics, one of the few areas in which disability is not a serious handicap.” Stephen Hawkins, NYT interview.

You face challenges. You want to change them. Perhaps it’s useful to let challenges change you.

Posttraumatic Growth:

Adversity and trauma change us in at least five ways.

  1. Greater appreciation of life and a changed sense of priorities. (Notice Hawking’s above comments concerning appreciation.)
  2. Warmer, more intimate relationships with others.
  3. A greater sense of personal strength.
  4. Recognition of new possibilities or paths for one’s life.
  5. Spiritual development.

(Tedeschi & Calhoun)

How have the dark days of leadership/life changed you?

How might leaders get the most personal benefit from crisis or trauma?