A Philosophy for a Happy Life, by Sam Berns

Sam Berns died at age 17, in his old age. His rare illness did not stop him from having a purposeful life. Discover Sam's philosophy for a happy life.

Happiness isn’t something that just happens to us, it is within reach for everyone. 

Even during the hardest periods of life, we all have the power to make small changes in our environment and mindset that can set us on course for a happier life.

And Sam Berns life was improbable. He was born with progeria, a disease of rapid premature aging that only about 250 children worldwide are known to have.

Even though progeria led to many problems in his life, Berns said that if there’s one thing he wants everyone to know about him, it’s that he lives “a very happy life.” 

Sam Berns greatly exceeded the life expectancy of a person with the disease, which hardly exceeds 13 years.

According to National Geographic, children with progeria suffer from conditions typically seen in much older patients, including hip dislocation and stiff joints. But progeria proves fatal because premature ageing results in severe, the progressive cardiovascular disease that leads to premature heart attacks or strokes.

Progeria affects approximately one in every 4 million to 8 million infants; there are only about 200 children living with it worldwide. The genetic mutation tied to it causes those with the disease to produce the protein progerin, which blocks normal cell function.

As they age rapidly, these children suffer from a loss of body fat and hair and an inability to gain weight.

They are prone to developing osteoporosis, a disease where bones become weak and are more likely to break.

Sam Berns

Sadly, Sam Berns died in 2014, aged 17, in a physical condition identical to that of an elderly man.

I invite you to invest 13 minutes with Sam Berns and take a look at his philosophy, in this TED Talk.

1. “… Be okay with what you ultimately can’t do, because there is so much you can do…”

2. “… I surround myself with people I want to be with…”

3. “… Keep moving forward…”

“… I always try to have something to look forward to, something to strive for to make my life richer…”

Sam Berns

Sam Berns said he was able to get through difficult times by always having something in the future to look forward to, even if it was just a small thing like a new comic book or a football game. 

“… This mentality includes staying in a forward-thinking state of mind. I try hard not to waste energy feeling badly about myself, Sam said, because when I do, I get stuck in a paradox where there is no room for happiness or any other emotion…”

Sam Berns

“… No matter what I choose to become, I believe I can change the world. And as I am striving to change the world, I will be happy…”

Sam Berns

His parents, Scott Berns and Leslie Gordon, both pediatricians, received their son’s diagnosis when he was less than two years old. Around a year later, they established the Progeria Research Foundation to promote research into the underlying causes of and possible treatments for the disease. 

Moreover, they offer resources for the support of those with progeria and their families.

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