The search for happiness
Host: We’re talking about happiness today. To some, happiness is being surrounded by family and friends. To others, happiness means achieving success in somethin
g, such as meeting a goal. To those who have been injured or struggle with a physical disability, happiness can simply mean a day without suffering, or just being alive. Our guest today is Dr Brain, who has written several books about happiness and the things people do keep themselves happy. Dr Brain, think you for joining us today. Dr Brain: Thank you for inviting me. Today, I’m going to talk about how to find happiness. Host: I understand that you often use the example of the gymnast Sang Lan to show how people can find happiness even during times of a personal catastrophe. Dr Brain: Yes, Sang lan is a very good example of someone who is happy with her life, even when people expect her to be sad. Before her accident we knew her as a young girl who was happy and successful in her sport. While she was injured and in hospital, she amazed the world by the way she remained cheerful. Now, she finds happiness through reaching much smaller goals, and through the love of the people around her. Host: Well, in case some of out viewers don’t know her story, can you tell us a little bit about Sang Lan and who she is? Dr Brain: Of course. Sang Lan was born in Ningbo, China in 1981, and began learning gymnastics when she was only six years old. By the time she competed in the gymnastics tournament at the New York Goodwill Games, she had been a junior gymnast for eleven years. Sang Lan’s best event was always the vault. She started winning competitions in 1991 and kept working hard. Her teammates described her as energetic, happy and hard-working. Even though her training meant that she had to live apart from her parents, she was happy to devote herself to gymnastics. Sang Lan knew that in those years, she was working towards something special, and she was making her parents proud. In 1998, a small accident during one of her practice vaults at the Goodwill Games could have cost her future happiness. A coach changed the way the equipment was set up, but Sang Lan was not aware of the change until it was too late. She hit her head, and then fell to the gymnastics mat with a broken neck. She was rushed to a top hospital in New York. Specialists form many parts of the world said that because of her severe injuries, she would never walk again. Host: That must have been difficult for her. She must have been very sad. Dr Brain: No, that is why her story is so special. Everyone who saw her, from nurses to famous visitors like Leonardo DiCaprio from the film Titanic, who went to see her in the hospital to cheer her up, all said she was in good spirits. Sang Lan knew that for many people the secret to happiness is to have appreciation for the good things in life, and to focus on goals. Instead of crying about what she had lost and better. Her teammates were competing while she was in hospital. When they visited her and told her about their successes, she was happy for them. When the doctors told her that she would never again be a gymnast, she was able to overcome her sorrow by being proud of the things she had accomplished. She felt thankful to be alive and lucky to have the rest of her life to learn new things. Host: That is really amazing, Dr Brain. How old was she when this happened? Dr Brain: She was only seventeen years old. Host: And how has Sang Lan adapted to her new life?
Dr Brain: Very well. She went back to China, and graduated from peking University in 2007 with a degree in broadcasting. She also hosted a sports programme about the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and continues to be a popular figure on TV. However, her primary goal is to advocate better treatment for disabled people. She says that she likes to be optimistic. She also believes that keeping busy helps her stay positive. Host: I hope all of our viewers have been inspired by Sang Lan! I think her courage is admirable. I know I will think about how she rebuilt her life whenever my life feels unbearable.