Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye. Helen Keller

Helen Keller. What an amazing woman. For those of you who don’t know her story, she was an American author, political activist and lecturer who passed away in 1968 at the age of 87. She was also completely blind and totally deaf losing both her sight and hearing due to an illness suffered before she was two years old. 

Despite not being able to see or hear Helen did learn language and even how to speak. She could also read lips and sign language with her hands. Just think about that for a minute. That is incredible. When she was seven years old her family hired Anne Sullivan, herself visually impaired, to be her governess and teach her. They became life long friends and remained close until Anne’s death in 1936. 

The story of how Anne Sullivan taught Helen became famous with the publication of Helen’s autobiography, The Story of My Life. This book told of her life up until the age of 21 and was on our class reading list when I was in primary school. It made a huge impression on me and all who read it. It was adapted for stage and film and translated into many languages. And that book was just the beginning. In all, she wrote 12 books and many other articles on many subjects.

Helen Keller (1920)

She became a famous motivational speaker who travelled around the world advocating for many different causes including women’s right to vote, deafness, poverty, health and nutrition, socialism, pacifism and the impact of war. 

Many inspirational quotes have been attributed to her like the one I’ve featured today. I think it’s an amazing quote from a woman who could not see or hear. That she had so much self-confidence despite her disabilities and that her grasp of language was so great that she related to the concept of holding your head high and ‘looking’ the world in the eye, is pretty incredible.

Her whole life is an inspiration to us all. This woman with so much going against her achieved so much. Much more in fact than the majority of ‘normal able-bodied’ people. She often spoke of how much she loved life and how grateful she was for her abilities. She firmly believed that helping others was man’s purpose in life and that service to others was the secret to lasting happiness. 

And she was right. Practising gratitude and service to others are both proven ways we can feel happier and have more satisfaction in our lives. You can read more about that in this post. 

When we feel that we have been given a raw deal and can’t possibly succeed and don’t even dare to try, we can remember Helen Keller and be inspired to give it a go; and that there is so much in life to be thankful for. What a legacy. 

Who is someone that inspires you? And tell us why in the comments below. It may become a future post.

Megan Ruffino
Latest posts by Megan Ruffino (see all)