Tap into Your Inner Astronaut for Resilience

Dagmar Munn avatar

by Dagmar Munn |

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Dagmar Living Well

What do we have in common with an astronaut who is trying to survive while stranded on a hostile planet?

Answer: We share the ability to tap into our resourcefulness, resiliency, and optimism.

Perhaps you had a different answer to my question, especially if you have ALS or care for someone who does. Something more like: “You bet I feel stranded! Even the medical experts don’t have answers! And to top it off, things go wrong every day. There is no hope!”

Those certainly are normal thoughts and reactions when first confronted with what seems like a hopeless situation. But rather than wallow in self-pity and give up, our next steps should be to assess what happened, then plan a solution. In other words, think like a stranded astronaut who wants to survive and go home.

Why an astronaut?

Why all the talk about astronauts? Because I just watched one of my favorite movies for the second time: “The Martian,” starring Matt Damon. It’s a movie that always leaves me inspired and motivated to go out and seize the day.

The fictional story is about astronaut Mark Watney, who is left behind on a far-off planet through no fault of his own. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and depressed with the situation, he rallies. He solves one problem, then the next problem, then the next. One … at … a … time. Even when it seems that the odds are against him and Murphy’s Law creates impossible setbacks, Watney takes a deep breath and simply starts all over again.

But it’s only a movie! Yes. But for me, the story itself is a refreshing change from the current wave of fantasy superheroes with superpowers who blast their way to success. In contrast, astronaut Watney relies on logic, know-how, and a positive attitude.

Tap into your inner astronaut:

  • Stay in the moment, don’t think too far ahead.
  • Have a plan and a purpose.
  • Be open to innovations and unique workarounds.
  • Keep your mind busy.
  • Don’t give up hope.

By the way, if you haven’t yet seen “The Martian,” I highly recommend you do so.

Closer to home

In case you need a more tangible hero for your inspiration — someone who’s right here on Earth — look no further than Augie Nieto. He’s chairman of the ALS Therapy Development Institute and has been living with ALS for almost 13 years. Here’s a recent quote from Augie:

 “You can either celebrate what you can do, or mourn what you can’t. Every day I wake up and create a new normal. I don’t dwell on what has changed, but instead, I focus on keeping busy achieving my goals.”

We all experience good days and bad days. Think of the times you’ve faced a challenge by calmly thinking about what needed to be done and then made it happen. You were using your resourcefulness, resiliency, and positive attitude. You have the ability — you just have to use it!

I believe we can live well while living with ALS.


Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.


Eileen Coyne avatar

Eileen Coyne

Very inspiring and applicable to everyone. Thank you Dagmar for taking the time to share your thoughts!

Julie avatar


Thanks Dagmar for the always inspiring words. They are useful for anyone!

Dagmar Munn avatar

Dagmar Munn

Thank you Julie!

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