Whenever I tried to imagine a fantasy round table conversation with any three people then living (a neat mental exercise to see who you really admire), Professor Stephen Hawking was always first on my list. Partly because he was a rock star scientist, but mostly because he was the most uncanny real-life example of the principle of “mind over matter.”

People face all kinds of adversity, and when that adversity is imposed by other people – evils like wars, man-made famines, or even just subtle persecution in the workplace – at least the human element makes it explainable, understandable, and possibly fixable. But disease is one of those adversities imposed by nature that can seem completely arbitrary, a sign of an absurd cosmos that wouldn’t give a damn about you or what you wanted even if it could. Especially if you are an atheist like Professor Hawking was.

The fact that he didn’t descend into a depressive spiral and die on schedule in the 1960s makes him someone worth learning from in my opinion. In that spirit, here are some things he’s said on the subject of life. * “Keeping an active mind has been vital to my survival, as has been maintaining a sense of humor.” * “Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny.” * “I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.” * “However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.” * “People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.”