Christopher Reeve’s Life Lessons and Inspiration

Christopher Reeve's Life Lessons and inspiratio

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”

With the release of the new Superman v Batman movie, it is timely to reflect back on Christopher Reeve’s life lessons and inspiration.

Even if superhero movies aren’t your cup of tea, the life experiences Christopher lived through provide many inspirational learnings.

Christopher was born September 25, 1952 in New York City. He had various stage and television roles but will probably be best known as Superman in the original movies.

It seemed like Christopher had it all, Dana his loving wife, three children and a highly successful acting career when tragedy struck. In 1995, Christopher was thrown from a horse. His neck was broken, his spinal cord was severed from his brain, and he was completely paralyzed below the neck. The doctors said that ‘nothing more could be done’, ‘sorry’ and ‘come to terms with it.’ 

“Never accept ultimatums, conventional wisdom, or absolutes.”

 Christopher didn’t accept this. He started a vigorous exercise program using electrical stimulation to move all parts of his paralyzed body. He questioned why he couldn’t move his body again. Why couldn’t his brain once again give commands that his body would obey? Doctors warned him that he was in denial. Christopher just thought what else was he going to do with his time. What better project was there for him to focus on?

It took five years for him to slowly start to regain movement. He wasn’t ‘cured’ but he had some movement in his arms and legs and a scanned showed that his brain was once again sending signals to his body and his body was responding.

“Success is finding satisfaction in giving a little more than you take.”

 Christopher’s bravery in face of a tragic accident has given hope to people with spinal cord injuries and disabilities around the world.

He became very involved in campaigns supporting handicapped children and paraplegics, and founded the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation in 1998 to promote research into spinal cord injuries, testifying before a Senate subcommittee in favor of federal funding for stem cell research.

Christopher continued to work after ongoing rehabilitation. He acted and directed in films.

Do you ever cry? “Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Don’t sell out.”

 In a Chris and Dana television interview, Chris and Dana were asked the question ‘do you ever cry?”

Dana responded with “Everyday is a conscious effort to maintain a positive attitude. Chris is always perceived as very positive and he is and to me that is where the courage comes in and the bravery and resilience and the amazing strength that he shows. In fact, it doesn’t come easy, people admire his courage. I don’t know that they even know it’s one stop beyond incredible.”

Christopher said “What they don’t know is that in the morning I need 20 minutes to cry in order to wake up and make that shift. To say this really sucks, to allow the feeling of loss to be acknowledged and then you think ok, we had that moment now forward.”

“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.”

In another part of the interview Dana spoke about their hopes. She said, “We had hopes for how our lives would go but it didn’t go to plan at all. We’ve adjusted. Now we are on this road and we have hopes on this road. My hopes are for happiness no matter what happens.”

Goals – “I did that, now what else can I do?”

Christopher was asked, “Do you deliberately set goals you know you aren’t going to make to make them?”

Chris replied, “Yes absolutely. When you do it, when you pull it off, when you come out and succeed it’s another step forward in the realm of possibilities. You think, I did that now what else can I do? That really helps to not only keep you going but to vision more progress in the future.”

Sadly, Christopher Reeve died at the age of 52 from cardiac arrest on October 10, 2004. His wife, Dana and son William, as well as his two children, Matthew and Alexandra from his previous marriage, survived him. Dana was diagnosed with cancer in 2005 and died in March 2006 at the age of 44.

Following Dana’s passing, the charity was renamed the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation. Christopher’s children continue supporting the foundation’s charitable work.

Christopher Reeve Life Lessons and Inspiring Quotes 

On Superman and heroes

“What makes Superman a hero is not that he has power, but that he has the wisdom and the maturity to use the power wisely. From an acting point of view, that’s how I approached the part.”

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”

Courage & Determination

“Never accept ultimatums, conventional wisdom, or absolutes.”

“Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. Don’t sell out.”

Dreams & Goals

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”

“Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean.”

“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.”

“Nothing of any consequence happens unless people get behind an idea. It begins with an individual and they share the idea with more individuals…and eventually it becomes a movement.”

Success & Giving

“Success is finding satisfaction in giving a little more than you take.  You’ve got to give more than you take.”


“You should take some responsibility for the way you present yourself. But you should not be hung up on your looks, whether you are ugly or handsome, because it isn’t an achievement.”

“Your body is not who you are. The mind and spirit transcend the body.”

“Some people are walking around with full use of their bodies and they’re more paralyzed than I am.”

“To be able to feel the lightest touch really is a gift.”

On life

“I am a very lucky guy. I can testify before Congress. I can raise funds. I can raise awareness.”

“There’s no better project than you.”

“You play the hand you’re dealt. I think the game’s worthwhile.”

Please share below your favorite life lesson from Christopher Reeve

Television interviews & tribute

Chris and Dana Television interview

Chris’s first appearance at The Oscars following the accident

Christopher Reeve’s last public speech at The Rehabilitation center in Chicago

A tribute to Christopher Reeve

Matthew and Alexandra Reeve, are interviewed about Emmy Award nominated ‘Hope in Motion’ documentary based on their father’s life.

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

The Foundation is dedicated to curing spinal cord injury by funding innovative research, and improving the quality of life for people living with paralysis. Visit their website for more information.  

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