We often define ourselves by things that are "outside" us: relationships, work, family - even our own bodies. But what would it mean to have your life dramatically altered and your body irrevocably damaged? Who would you be then? In this TED talk, walking paraplegic Janine Shepherd, explores the impact of loss on the human psyche and the universal quest to find meaning and fulfillment. It is only through the process of losing everything we thought we needed that we find who we truly are.


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  • Carla

    So inspiring! Thank you Janine Shepherd.

  • Sophie

    have the will and don't worry about the way

  • Jurgen [NL]

    My own situation at this moment: Urticarie (since May 10th 2014) and ischias (since July 8th) plus the way how I feel at the moment: Trying to build up my companywww.FruitPickers.nl for eastern european students.. the companion I "might work with" obstructs allllll the time: I wanna go on... today, watching the TEDtalk.. tears over my face... I wanna get my PPL since 8 years.. let it talk outta my head ALLLLLL the time by others... (not victimizing myself) and not doing it... :/ So Janine, you gave me my tears back ;) and the feeling that "when it is not there, I have to create it myself :-)

  • Nani

    Her passion, love of life & positivity. I also love how the people who rescued her, her caregivers and her parents seemed to be very positive and encouraging.

  • Carol

    I was inspired by her great spirit and determination to overcome obstacles and fulfill her dreams!

  • d s ranga rao

    Yes, broken body, but not broken will; and that is inspiring.

  • SFAE

    Everything. Powerful, inspiring. The ability to see hope, when most people would see none. It is hard to feel sorry for tough days....the eternal hope. Amazing.

  • Min M. Annette Graham Quick

    Thank you for being the voice and echo of my spirit. The very thing I spoke to God, you echoed to me today. I will always love and pray for you. For we know that our lives are not complete unless we help our brothers and sisters,(All of humanity). You have confirmed and re-energized me. I no longer am waiting for assurance that I should be, following the directions, dreams, and urgency from within my spirit. God bless and continue to strengthen you. Love you and pray one day to meet you. I Thank God for you.

  • Norm Buben

    Janine, I needed to see your video! You see my wife and I have been out of work for over two years. We have exhausted our savings and are barely hanging on to our home. We have been in foreclosure and just barely hanging on. My wife has been able to get interviews for a position in Payroll and bookeeping but she keeps loosing out to younger applicants for the same job. I was hospitalized a year ago for surgery for prostate cancer and a year after that for urinary tract infections. We are right on the verge of loosing all we have. But through faith I am doing better health wise. My wife is continuing to interview and we are hopefull that she will get a job. I have reinvented myself and have started a Graphic Arts and Photography business. I continue to look for customers for that business. I can't seem to get an interveiw for any other jobs that I am qualified for. So why am I telling you this? I just want to let you know that your spirit has spoken to me, and I feel that God has guided me to your video just to show me that things could be worse. Much worse! Your message has resinated to me and given me renewed strength and I want to thank you for that. You are a true inspiration to us and I want to thank you for your message of hope! I needed that!

  • Jewel Heart

    Congratulations for your willingness to let go of what was and surrender to what will be. You are a great model to all of us who need to let go. May GOD Bless you.

  • RRPs

    Great reflection and insight developer

  • Lori deWet

    Janine, I am humbled. What an inspiring example of strength you are. You made me laugh and you made me cry...but then you made me laugh again! Keep smiling you beautiful person, and thank you for this brilliant Ted talk. A big, warm hug from Vancouver Island, Canada

  • Sharon Strite

    What an inspiring thought that if we let go of who we think we are the world is wide open for us to explore...fantastic video!

  • Frank

    Janine...your inner light beams for all of us. Thank you.

  • Prakruti

    Incredible...very inspiring.. I am joining in your straws of humanity with my little straw dear...love to all..

  • Cindy Wilson

    Did not watch the video. Joseph Campbell says "We are spirits having a Human experience." I think the body is an essential part of this thought. The body lives in the moment and our mind has the ability to travel from the past and into the future. It is through my body that I find the moment again and again. Blessings, Therapeutic Massage

  • Irene

    Quoting her: The Philosopher Lao Tzu once said 'When you let go of what you are, you become what you might be'. I now know that it wasn't until I let go of who I thought I was that I was able to create a completely new life. It wasn't until I let go of the life I thought I should have, that I was able to embrace the life that was waiting for me. I now know that my real strength never came from my body and although my physical capabilities have changed dramatically, who I am in unchanged. This part inspired me because this last summer my nephew and daughter witnessed the fall of a young climber who despite heroic efforts, succumbed to her injuries. My nephew, having spoken to her only moments before the fall, realized that very conversation you have with someone may be the last conversation they ever have. Let it be kind words the carry out of this world with them. Not a day goes by that I do not appreciate this chance I have been given to live here, to be part of life, to help others, to experience joy and happiness in the forms they are given to me. (btw, the actual quote is: When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. For those who will claim Lao Tzu was misquoted it's called editorial privilege)

  • saggaf

    As most Easterners, I am very much agree that we are not our body, but Janine has shared her lessong learning that inspired me to lead myself and others, to go beyond your vicinity to seek their goal in life. Thank you Janine

  • Evelyne

    It not by might, neither power that makes us but the spirit of God in us that makes us what we are..an incredible true story indeed..It has changed my thoughts,everything. I feel unstoppable.Janine you are a great lady..Keep it up!

  • Denis Khan

    The outer body is a dense physical structure subject to sickness, old age death. Don’t fight against this body, as it is only a shell covering the invisible inner body, which connects you to The Unmanifested One Life-Birthless, Deathless, Lovely & Beautiful, Radiant, Eternal & Immortal. You are forever one with God - Eckhart Tolle

  • Arun Solochin (Chikkop)

    Isn't this a wonderful wonderful example of human spirit on fire without a body. Thank You so much for joining me in the straw.

  • Scott

    May each of us triumph over every tragedy. And may we all learn to look past every "body" that we see and find the spirit in everyone. "All that matters is that we continue to fan the flame of humanity by living our lives as the ultimate creative expression of who we really are." Janine Shepard

  • madhusudan

    as I am intersted in philosophy

  • Mish

    Beyond belief..... humbled me. Made me want to be a better person. Left me speechless and in awe. Blessed Be Janine.

  • Mamasan

    An amazing woman! We desperately need to teach our young people this lesson. The media is ruining their minds with expectations of physical perfection. Very sad.

  • Nova

    very inspiring..it brought tears to my eyes..thank you

  • yota

    the determination to keep the spirit alive, the infinite strength of life itself and mainly the strongest will and focus. well done you are a freat inspiration.

  • Valerie

    Janine, your story made me cry with JOY and GLADNESS as I recognised the spirit within you that makes you strong. God bless you and keep you as you continue to be a blessing me and to others as a symbol of being an overcomer in this earthly life and surely to be rewarded in the heavenly life.

  • Paula

    Perhaps I am not my body, but because my disability is hidden, other people have refused to accept how my body limits me. What I can accomplish depends on what other people are willing to do that I cannot do. Trying to do what I cannot do leaves me immobile with pain. I hope this inspires people who have no limitations to recognize that at times they need make up for limitations that prevent people from accomplishing all they can accomplish.

  • BeiYin

    This is the most impressive speech I ever have heard and what inspires me so much, is that now after I heard this, I don't feel anymore alone, after I went through a very similar experience in my life, when I healed myself from a disease, for that was 'no cure!', that's what I have been told by the medical doctors. But that's not the most important: The testimonial from Janine shows, that we all have the ability to go beyond our used established worldview and our personal mindset and self image. Also it makes clear, that feeling as a victim of conditions or situations, even though being the usual, but keeps one stuck and in dependencies. Instead seeing ones condition as a challenge and the opportunity to go forward in ones *growing*, to discover and live totally new levels of ones existence, that is a *message* that can change peoples suffering and misery into a creative and joyful life. Also the presentation of this speech is excellent and for sure I will share this video with every body I know! This video also inspires me how I can present my own testimonial in a better way then I did the last ten years. Thank you Janine! You are *light* for me! - - - I want to give you a *hug*!

  • debra

    the light inside of me is still alive....i had a near death experience in april...and now my heart is strong....i live my life as ultimate expression of who i am

  • Prakash

    Wow. Patience, perseverance , determination, strong will shall pull anyone , God willing. Body is the temple , wherein the soul lies. We need to value our body

  • Mike

    This video brought back personal memories of my broken neck (25 years ago ) and journey past a broken body. My belief system was shattered. My athletics were largely history. My career in law enforcement seemed to be gone. Determination carried me long enough to get me up and running (literally ). I returned to spirituality, which I had let go of as a child. My body never completely recovered, but I was able to return to my career, where I saw people differently. I am grateful, though I still miss the loss of certain aspects of my former body.

  • Jagdish Dave

    I and perhaps we all need such awakening and reawakening calls,gentle and loving taps on our shoulders, for mindfully living a fulfilling life.Who am I and how can I actualize my full potential has been my life time project. I have gone through peak and valley experiences. Remaining mindful of my true identity has helped me and is helping me to blossom the flower of my being.Thanks and namaste. Jagdish Dave

  • Shannon

    We can become many a dream!

  • Kristin Pedemonti

    Thank you for Teaching US how to fly. Your story is beautiful. You are a Superhero! HUG! let go of what you are, you become what you might be. Such excellent advice. You've shared so many gems here: "We breathed as one and realized we were Not Alone." Beautiful! "it wasn't just my life it was everyone's." Life's infinite possibilities... Teaching other people how to fly! Let go and embrace the life waiting for you. I am With you! As someone who they thought would die the night I was born, I can relate a bit. I strive in life to share my HEART through Free Hugs and sharing stories of Hope, Joy and Laughter in coming out of darkness. Here's a little of my story via TEDx: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPAgjfgRh9Q&feature=youtu.be Embrace the virtues of the heart! INDEED~ A FREE HUG for you: HUUUUUUG! And a huge THANK YOU for sharing your story to INSPIRE others. We ARE ALL INTERCONNECTED! <3

  • Sandee

    How sad and uninspired my spirit is. THAT has to change.

  • Hamilton Dlamini

    Thank you. Very inspiring

  • Sherry Comes

    Embrace the virtues of the heart

  • Irma

    "amazing", thanks for sharing your story... you made me cry tears of joy. :)

  • Saumitra Dubey

    incredible, I am a quadriplegic and it speaks a lot for me…

  • Linda Mae Chover

    Everything about this is inspiring. What an amazing woman she is. Made me cry though.

  • srikrishna

    It is true.Those who under stands will be more useful to society.YES We are not the body thank you for inspiring people.

  • Sheelagh McGrath

    Yay Janine! I laughed and cried with you as i had a similar experience in 1991. it changes you for ever! I have also gone on to greater things. The Heart is all that counts, it is the Driver of your Soul! You are a wonderful inspiration to so many people! Carry on with the marvellous and uplifting talks and the flying is just fantastic!!<3

  • viviane

    praise the Lord!so wonderful.. thank you for sharing and inspiring

  • Sundar

    The whole purpose of life is to realize that "we are not this body". Janine brings home this message so beautifully. Our hearts go out to her as she relates her story of courage and the determination to raise herself and in the process discover her True Self. Thank you for sharing. Sundar

  • Deb

    Thank you so much to Janine! What an inspiration! Now--I am going to FLY!

  • Janine Shepherd

    Thank you everyone who has watched, shared and commented on my video. To the team at Karmatube, thank you for helping me share this important message...I am truly grateful. Blessings and love to all.

  • Zanny

    How great is that! A wonderful reminder of the infinite self I say. Great clip, thanks for sharing

  • Alf


  • Mike Lundgren

    karmatube -- this video should only be viewed, embedded or shared from its original posting on YouTube -- reposting is a violation of the the TED license. The original video can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bX32U_hfri4

  • Michelle

    Awe inspiring and courageous - thank you for sharing and shining a light on the spirit that exists within us

  • kim

    The spirit expressed through the desire to transcend the physical dimension and move THAT mountain! Janine Shepherd you are one brave soul!

  • sethi

    Thank you very much for sharing . . An awesome saga of courage . Never say die spirit . Truly inspirational .

  • Arun Kapania

    Amazingly, Janine truly personifies and is a living example of the vedic truth - We are not the body. May lord shower His blessings on her for sharing how she has learnt to live this wonderful truth.

  • Rory

    Wow, wow, wow. What bright, beautiful light.

  • wendy

    Can't wait to share this with my husband who has progressive MS and still longs for the days when he could walk....thanks for sharing your beautiful spirit Janine.

  • Tamilyn

    amazing and inspiring :) i love this site !!

  • wendy


  • Brian

    Thanks guys....very humbling and a quieting reminder about how fragile life is ultimately....Happy Holidays....we appreciate all the Karma Tubes...keep em' goin'...

  • Jenny

    Just everything! What an amazing woman, who has so much courage. Thanks for this inspirational story.

  • Pece

    wow, very inspiring!

  • Maria Paz

    Janine, I am grateful for this video. Thank you for remind us that we are more than our body. Lots of love from Spain.

  • adriana

    de wilskracgt and following her inner feeling ,thanks,

  • Sally

    I raise my straw with pure admiration, love and respect for you Janine. You are incredible and such an inspiration ~ a true shining light, thank you...

  • Maya

    Thank you. I am grateful for this video.

  • anil

    Hi Jenine, Thanks for making this recording happen... What a wonderful gift we got after this Thanksgiving day..can't express words... too emotional.. Thx again..

  • Nivendra

    Beautiful and so damn inspiring.

  • Lise

    Incredible. What tenacity, drive, courage and ispiration. Thank you Janine.

  • yogitony

    "Living our lives as theultimate expression of who we are." This amazing and moving account of Janine Shepherd's path to discovering the reality of the spirit that dwells in a physical body gives me great hope for overcoming the challanges i face every day. By comparison, my "issues" are so minor and i am so fortunate to recognize how important it is to face and overcome them. I must not forget this woman and the power of her spirit to lead her to a fulfilling life.

  • Page 1

  • Learn more about Janine Shepherd and her incredible recovery from a life-threatening accident.
  • Who am I? What am I? This article from the open access Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy explores the question of personal identity.
  • Think beyond your physical body and "outside" definitions. Who are you? Or who might you become?

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