I came across this article about Helen Keller who was stricken with an illness at a very young age which robbed her of her sight and hearing.
On the face of it, this was the end of the world but in this incredible story of overcoming apparently insurmountable obstacles, she eventually learned to communicate which resulted in her receiving a college degree and becoming a world-famous speaker and author!
As you read the article below be inspired by the incredible power of the mind and the will to succeed which resulted in this most remarkable turnaround.
‘On June 27, 1880, Helen Keller was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, with her senses intact. It wasn’t until she was 18 months old that she was stricken with a mysterious illness that robbed her of sight and sound.
While she found ways to communicate with her parents, Arthur H. Keller and Kate Adams Keller, as well as her friend and the child of the Keller’s cook, Martha Washington, Helen was prone to outbursts when she was not understood.
The outbursts grew in frequency and, when Helen was six years old, she and her father paid a visit to a distinguished oculist in Baltimore, who had been successful in rectifying similar cases.
They looked for help
While nothing could be done for Helen’s eyes, Arthur Keller was advised to consult Dr. Alexander Graham Bell. Helen and her father left immediately for Washington, D.C., in search of Bell. Helen admired Bell immediately.
He understood her crude signs, and their initial interview would lead to friendship, companionship, and a love that would compel Helen to dedicate her eventual autobiography, The Story of My Life, to Bell.
Bell advised Arthur Keller to write to the director of the Perkins Institution for the Blind in Boston to inquire if they could recommend a qualified teacher to educate Helen. This communication resulted in, what Helen considers, the most important day of her life.
Anne changed everything
Anne Mansfield Sullivan arrived at the Keller household three months before Helen turned seven years old. Within six months of her arrival in Tuscumbia, Sullivan taught Helen hundreds of vocabulary words, using the manual alphabet, multiplication, and Braille.
In 1890, when Helen was nine years old, she learned of a deaf and blind girl in Norway who was taught how to speak. Determined to learn as well, Helen and Sullivan ventured to the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in Boston to consult the principal, Sarah Fuller.
Fuller began instructing Helen at once. Passing Helen’s hand lightly over her face, Fuller would let her feel the position of her tongue and lips when she made a sound. Helen then imitated every motion, and, in an hour, she had learned six elements of speech. On returning home, Sullivan tirelessly took over as Helen’s speech instructor.
Sullivan eventually followed Helen to the Perkins School, where she began receiving a formal education, and even to Radcliffe College where Helen earned her degree. Sullivan was a loyal teacher and companion until the day she died in 1936.
Helen Keller went on to become a world-famous speaker and author, an advocate for people with disabilities.’
A remarkable story
This is a remarkable story of someone with a resilient mindset who faced every challenge head-on. I am sure she must have gone through many negative emotions of doubt, depression and helplessness but she didn’t stay there.
She picked herself up and fought to live a life that was worth living. This is so inspirational and puts into perspective many of the problems we have in life. We all get down from time to time which is normal but if we get back up quickly, we can achieve amazing things in life.
Helen Keller’s life offers several valuable lessons:
Resilience and Determination: Despite facing severe physical challenges, Helen Keller never gave up. Her perseverance in the face of adversity teaches us the importance of resilience and the ability to overcome obstacles.
Communication is Key: Keller’s ability to learn and communicate through touch shows the importance of finding alternative ways to connect with others. Effective communication is essential for understanding, empathy, and building relationships.
Value of Support and Friendship: Anne Sullivan’s role as Keller’s teacher and companion underscores the significance of supportive relationships. Having someone who believes in you and provides guidance can be instrumental in achieving personal growth and success.
Attitude and Gratitude: Keller’s positive attitude and gratitude for life’s experiences teach us to focus on what we have rather than dwelling on what we lack. Her optimism and gratitude inspire a more positive outlook on life.
Overcoming Self-Pity: Despite facing immense challenges, Keller refused to succumb to self-pity. Her ability to rise above self-pity serves as a lesson in taking control of our emotions and not allowing negative thoughts to consume us.
Overall, Helen Keller’s life exemplifies the potential within each of us to overcome difficulties, embrace learning, advocate for others, and create meaningful change in our lives and the lives of others.
The go-to technique I use to get myself back on track when I take a negative hit is gratitude. I think of all the things I am grateful for and as I do this, I start to feel better, then I take action on something to stop me from going back to those negative thoughts which made me feel down.
However, there are rare times when this doesn’t work, and I then think about people like Helen Keller, and this puts all my problems into perspective and helps me get back on track as I realise how blessed I really am.
Thoughts for the week:
- This week think about the amazing story of Helen Keller and imagine the incredible challenges she faced in life.
- Look at the lessons we can learn from her and apply them to your life.
- As you go through next week try to use gratitude to remove the negative thoughts which appear throughout your day.