Lisa shares her life-changing perspective
Lisa Cox reckons the secret to
happiness is simple: Develop an attitude of gratitude.
The 31-year-old, who is in hospital recovering from open-heart
surgery, admits many people find it hard to understand how she can
possibly be happy after seven years in which her life was turned
upside down and inside out.
"After all," she says, "who dies twice, ends up in a wheelchair
with amputated limbs, vision impairment and can honestly say
"That's pretty easy to answer when I consider the things that I do
have and the things I can do, rather than focusing on the things I
don't have and the things I can't do."
It's a life-changing perspective she now shares with others - as a
passionate advocate to raise awareness of the "invisible"
disability of acquired brain injury, and as a successful author and
inspirational speaker on body image issues, encouraging young
people to be happy with themselves as they are.
Lisa is one of the incredible Queenslanders in The Sunday Mail's
Happy List, published in today's U on Sunday magazine - 50 people
who help create greater happiness and wellbeing for others through
their selfless contributions.
Many, like Lisa, have used their own life experiences to fuel
their dedication to helping others.
In 2005, she was a 24-year-old with two university degrees and a
promising corporate career who captained the Queensland volleyball
team and modelled part-time.
In what her specialist described as sheer "bloody bad luck", Lisa
contracted a rare form of the streptococcus-A virus which triggered
a brain haemorrhage, putting her in a coma and shutting down all
her internal organs.
Lisa died twice and doctors warned her parents they might have to
turn off life support. She spent three weeks in a coma and two
months in intensive care.
She left hospital after a year - in a wheelchair, without one of
her legs, all her toes and nine fingertips - and with a very
different appreciation of life.
One based on gratitude, perspective, diversity and
She still had a life and she was determined to use it well.
"For much of my life I had worked to accumulate stuff, be it shoes
in my wardrobe, awards in my portfolio or sporting trophies in my
home. But for the last year, my life had been reduced to and
contained in a single Tupperware container," Lisa says.
"A Tupperware container filled with my few belongings. A pen, to
hold as a reminder that I was going to write again; a clothes peg
to remind me of home, reading glasses, medication and a few other
random odds and ends.
"True happiness had come from achieving the smallest goals like
brushing my own teeth, holding a pen to write my name or seeing the
smiles of my beautiful family and wonderful friends."
Between further trips to hospital with complications, Lisa
returned to study, completing a Diploma of Business
Entrepreneurship, and began work on her first book, Does My Bum
Look Big In This Ad? She also launched a career as a powerful
motivational speaker, challenging stereotypes of beauty and
promoting self-esteem among young women.
Her second book, Media Muscle tackled the body image pressures on
Lisa is also a national ambassador for Synapse (the Brain Injury
Association). "Acquired Brain Injury is a disability but there is
nothing more disabling than a bad attitude," she says. "No amount
of bitterness or wallowing in self-pity will change what has
happened to me. I can't control the fact that I have an ABI but I
can control how I deal with it."
Lisa's happiness will be complete this year when she marries her
partner, Ren. "I can stand and take a few steps with help, so Mum
and Dad will both be helping me walk down the aisle in
Go to facebook.com/museinthemirror
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