wise words from stephen hawking

Sally Schneider

We’ve had this quote by Stephen Hawking on our fridge for years. He’s the brilliant British physicist who is paralyzed by motor neuron disease, yet continues to work vigorously in his field. He communicates via a computer screen attached to his wheelchair. As commonly used words run across it, Hawkins move a cheek muscle to signal an electronic sensor in his eyeglasses and transmit instructions to the computer, gradually, patiently building sentences…

When asked how he keeps his spirits up, he replied:

My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.

In a recent, rare New York Times interview, he continues to inspire with his acutely positive and productive approach to making the most of the hand we are dealt, whatever that may be (and we are ALL dealt some kind of rough hand):

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.

My advice to other disabled people would be, concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you doing well, and don’t regret the things it interferes with. Don’t be disabled in spirit, as well as physically.

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7 Responses to wise words from stephen hawking

  1. Jim 06.13.2011 at 8:14am #

    Thanks. I’ve been thinking this morning about a dear friend who died last year. Thirty-five years previously she had survived a cancer that had about a 1% survival rate back then. She had told me several times that she considered everything after that to be pure gravy. And that’s how she lived. She set me quite an example of gratitude and living in the present.

  2. Sally 06.13.2011 at 10:10am #

    “Pure gravy.” Every day. Thanks.

  3. Elizabeth 06.13.2011 at 12:31pm #

    Hmmm–Stephen Hawking’s comments have provoked some discontent in the disability world, namely among parents who have children with severe disabilities —

  4. Sally 06.13.2011 at 4:24pm #

    Please tell us more, Elizabeth. Do you think he is unrealistic, or was given more advantages because of his work??

  5. jody 06.13.2011 at 11:12pm #

    I am curious too about the discontent – interesting – so many lens – so many realities – not sure why I am jumping to this, but, kindness is such a handy tool.

  6. Dave 07.11.2011 at 2:16pm #

    I would not describe Hawking as wise, though I would describe him as a bit of a dick. His comment belittling people who believe in Heaven is an example of why.


  1. "My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus." -Stephen Hawking - Stephen Hawking Quotes - 09.10.2013

    […] “My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.” -Stephen Hawking source […]

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