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Lisa shares her life-changing perspective


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 they're happy?

"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 acceptance.

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 young males.

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 August."

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References and further information

The original article was produced by  Daryl Passmore for The Sunday Mail.


To view this article, visit The Courier Mail website 


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