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15 Shocking Stories of Hope to Supercharge Your Life

15 Shocking Stories of Hope to Supercharge Your Life

Ever feel like the weight of the world is crushing your soul? You’re not alone. Life throws unexpected hurdles at the worst times, but don’t let things beyond your control hold you down. Follow the lead of these fifteen shocking stories of hope. Discover just how possible it is to overcome any hardship and forge your own destiny.

1. Chart your own course

Millions of children have parents infected with HIV. I should know; I was one of them. My father lost his battle. Many people may assume this tragedy would ruin a child, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Take the story of Liz Murray, whose parents were addicts and whose HIV-infected mother sold their church-donated thanksgiving turkey to score a hit of coke.

Liz was bullied for being homeless, smelly, and lice-ridden. Humiliated, she dropped out of school. At age seventeen she returned more determined than ever. She set out to become a straight-A student, but she did more than that. She went from being homeless to being a Harvard graduate and bestselling author. Just imagine what you could do without those hardships.

2. Break free

Some stories are too horrific to detail. That summarizes Dave Pelzer, who suffered one of the worst documented cases of abuse in California history at the hands of his own mother. In spite of being locked up in his basement and forced to endure unspeakable crimes, Dave did more than just survive. He rose above the circumstances.

Dave told his story and became an advocate for the voiceless. He also shared the numerous accounts he received in letters each week from people who had similar experiences. That courage earned him the honor of the National Jefferson Award and designation of Outstanding Young Persons of the World. Learn from Dave. No matter what your struggle, no matter how bad your experience, there is still hope. You are not alone.

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3. Remember the forgotten

One untold story is the millions of newly-widowed men and women every year around the world. Their shared struggle goes ignored by the masses because it is so common. But that commonality is no less painful. That struggle is no less real. While some succumb to the terrible loss of a life partner who defined much of who they were, the vast majority overcome their grief. They honor the memory of those lost with a commitment to make the most of their lives. It’s a courage that should inspire you to remember the brave men and women who live next door. Who should you remember?

4. Define your day

You could be like most people–stuck in the middle–like Hal Elrod used to be. He wasn’t significant in his own mind, just an ordinary person with a normal life and decent job. One day, he chose to set a lofty goal. He achieved that goal and was on cloud nine until a drunk driver hit him head on, broke eleven bones, and left him in a coma for six days. He awoke with permanent brain damage. The doctors told him he would never walk again.

Hal made the decision to be grateful for what he had and to be purposeful in his actions. He didn’t let the doctors define his life. Instead, he defined his own day, every day. Not only did he walk again, he ran. Hal completed a 52 mile ultra-marathon and went on to pen the blockbuster book The Miracle Morning, which awoke the lives of millions. How will you define your day?

5. Set the world on fire

What would you do if burns covered 100% of your body and forced you to stay in the hospital for five months while you watched doctors amputate your fingers one by one?

John O’leary had the horrible misfortune of torching himself at the age of nine, leaving him near death and permanently scarred. Somehow, he survived. It’s not just his miraculous survival that inspires, but how his family and community came together to convince him why life was still worth living. The people he touched and what he did with his life after he left the hospital should convince anyone of the true value of a single life.

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6. Climb your mountain

Jill Kinmont Boothe thought she had everything. She taught herself to ski and became a national champion Olympic prospect. Those hopes were dashed with a near fatal accident that left her permanently paralyzed.

In spite of her rejection by UCLA’s school of education due to her paralysis, her determination led her to become a successful teacher, painter, and role-model to millions, a story that later aired in the movie The Other Side of the Mountain. She never gave up hope. Neither should you.

7. Harness the wind

Imagine living in the small town of Kasungu with no money and limited resources. That’s the story of William Kamkwamba, who at age fourteen read a library book that inspired him to build a windmill with spare parts and power his tiny African village. Stories of his initiative spread across globe, which enabled him to do even more for his community. What problems can you solve with even more resources?

8. Make good art

The advice from British native and writing phenom Neil Gaiman is good enough, but now try it as a quadriplegic. Henry Fraser did just that after losing the use of his limbs from a diving accident that dislocated his neck. Six years later, he returned to art after his injuries forced him to live with his mother and rethink his life. His mouth became his instrument, and he took those paintings and drawings to social media where they garnered the interest of J.K. Rowling and others. His story continues to inspire. Yours can too.

9. Take flight

If an artistic quadriplegic doesn’t motivate you, how about an armless pilot? Jessica Cox was born without arms, but she didn’t let that slow her down. She drives, scuba dives, types on the keyboard, puts on her contacts, and does a lot more—all with her feet. That determination led her to become both the first armless pilot and American Taekwondo black belt without arms. She’s just getting started. How about you?

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10. Live without limits

The world is challenging enough, but what if you were forced to navigate that world without your limbs? Nick Vujicic, who suffers from the rare disorder of phocomelia, did just that and turned his obstacle into a limitless opportunity for outreach and exploration. He lives by the motto, “attitude determines your ability to succeed.” What’s your motto?

11. Realize your dream

Ever had a childhood dream you wish never died? After injuries sidelined his minor-league baseball career a decade earlier, high school science teacher and coach, Jim Morris, received encouragement from his students to pursue his dream and try out for the majors. That effort paid off, and he became the oldest rookie to ever pitch in the major leagues. Think twice before you kill your dream. Most are still within your reach.

12. Never give up

Children can be powerful motivators. San Francisco native Chris Gardner went beyond motivation and took action. He didn’t make excuses. He didn’t let his his mother’s imprisonment when he was a child or his failed sales career hold him back.

Persistence propelled him from being homeless to a millionaire stockbroker and amazing provider for his son. Persistence can do the same for you.

13. Shout your message

Imagine being born with a life-threatening illness, one that stigmatizes you in the eyes of everyone. Now add on fetal alcohol syndrome, cerebral palsy, and learning impairments. Would you have the courage to overcome those challenges and become a heroic communicator and advocate? Ashley Rose did all that and more. She climbed her personal mountain to become a Tedx speaker, shared her message around the globe, and taught youth about HIV in the hopes of one day achieving a world where no child is born with AIDS. What’s your message?

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14. Revolutionize your world

Stephen Hawking isn’t the only sufferer of a motor neuron disease to shape his field. Jon Morrow of Copyblogger and Smartblogger took the blogging world by storm a few short years ago. Most people never dream of soaring to such heights, but what makes Jon so special is that he was supposed to die of pneumonia before the age of two because of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).

Jon owes much of his miracle to his mother, who fought for him every step of the way and didn’t accept an early death as Jon’s only fate. It wasn’t easy. It was shockingly hard, but after languishing near destitution from medical bills, Jon’s commitment to his ideas led him to become the highest draw in his field, with millions of views. What ideas have you let fall by the wayside?

15. Create your legacy

Most people live life oblivious to their potential unless something disturbing jolts them from their uninspiring routine. That characterized Anthony Burgess right up until the doctors told him he would die of cancer in less than a year.

Anthony accepted his fate, but he didn’t do it gracefully. He wanted to leave a legacy, and so he chose to write a book. In that year he wrote five, including A Clock-work Orange. His cancer went into remission, and his year transformed into decades with over two dozen stories to his name. What would you do with your year?

It’s hard not to be motivated by people like these, but humongous things and heroic stories aren’t necessary to have a big impact. You don’t even need motivation or willpower. Big challenges are overcome and big dreams are realized by taking small but consistent actions, like the ones mentioned by Stephen Guise in his book Mini Habits. Over time, those small actions add up and come to define who you are. The only questions you need ask yourself are, “what do you want to accomplish, and what’s your first step?”

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

More by this author

Roy Huff

Author, Scientist, Teacher

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Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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