Stephen Hawking is more than just a theoretical physicist with an Oscar winning movie out about him. He has contributed not only to the world of science, but also to those looking to learn a little more about life. Throughout his career, Hawking has helped us better understand the planet, and at the same time, ourselves. Here are some thoughts he’s shared that had a profound affect on me. Maybe you’ll relate.

“I am just a child who has never grown up. I still keep asking these ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. Occasionally, I find an answer.

Hawking reminds us to stay as curious as we once were as children. He shows us how to be courageous. Not everything is impossible, and through the impossibility, we can discover answers just by asking questions. Sometimes we might not get the answer we want, or an answer at all, but that shouldn’t hold us back us from questioning everything. Life itself is one big question mark, and we’ll never truly stop asking others and ourselves for the answers.

“If I had to choose a superhero to be, I would pick Superman. He’s everything that I’m not.”

Hawking, though brilliant and successful, still has dreams like everyone else. His longing to do things he might never be able to do shows how he’s just like the rest of us. We’re all human at the end of the day, and as humans, we can only do so much that our minds and bodies will let us. Hawking might not have the super strength or the ability to fly like Superman (he suffers from ALS and is bound to a wheelchair), but he does have intelligence far greater than any comic book superhero. Hawking has conquered countless barriers and continues to impress the world.

He serves as a prime example in never giving up. Hawking continues to endure his degenerative disease and even through it all, he is accomplishing so much. Every once in a while you might find yourself trying to give up, but Hawking shows that setting your mind to a goal and going for it is what being human is all about.

“The past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.”

From this, I see how important living presently really is. As we live day by day, we are in charge of the limitless possibilities. We have the power to do things so great, but these things are only accomplished in the now. We can look to the past, seeing the possibilities that were presented and think of the possibilities to come in the future. Right now, we’re given the great opportunity of life to go out and do something.

“The quality I would most like to magnify is empathy. It brings us together in a peaceful, loving state.”

Hawking said last month that, “The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression.” He noted that the act of aggression may have had its advantages in surviving during “caveman days,” but it now poses a threat to humanity. Hawking then elaborated on the importance of empathy.

He explained that empathy is ultimately what can counter aggression. Rather than some complex mathematical calculation having to do with the universe, empathy, according to Hawking, is what will save mankind. The concept of empathy seems simple enough, yet it’s a human quality we sometimes struggle with.

Empathy means to have a feeling of understanding and the capability to share another person’s experiences and emotions. I don’t think any one person lacks empathy but I do think that empathy is something that takes practice. And that practice can lead to great and positive change.

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