How tearing my ACL has made me a better person

I truly would not wish an acute injury like a torn ACL on anyone. It is a terrible, life-altering event that can lead to depression, tension, anger, and low self-esteem (Smith, 2013). On the other hand, it can have some positive outcomes if you’re receptive. Here are a few positive lessons I’ve been learning over the last few months:

Happiness is a Choice

People often comment on how upbeat I seem when talking about my recovery. While there have certainly been some highs and lows, I’ve simply chosen to be as happy as I can be about the circumstances.

Sure, I can be sad about how my life is supposed to be or focus on how far I still have to go instead of how far I’ve come. But what good is that?

This moment, like every moment, is a priceless gift and an opportunity.  I try to stay positive, smile, and make it count.  If I pretend today is going to be great, it usually is.  A great attitude leads to great experiences.

It also helps that my torn ACL has created a laser-focus on the people I have in my life and the abilities I still have in spite of my injury. I am also acutely aware of all of the little things I am re-learning to do. I am grateful for this goodness, and it brings me a deep sense of happiness and contentment.

Discipline and Motivation

I’ve always wanted to be a morning exerciser – hopping out of bed joyfully at the opportunity to sweat and work my muscles. Yeah, well…I don’t necessarily do that, but recovering from ACL surgery requires major discipline. PT takes 20-30 minutes each session. At the beginning, these sessions were 4-5 times a day. Later twice a day. Even now, I do 30 minutes of PT exercises each morning on top of yoga and other cardio exercises such as riding a bike, swimming and getting on the elliptical machine.

I’m learning that if I’m really motivated to do something, like make a full recovery from surgery and get back to climbing, skiing, biking, and other sports, I can and will dig deep into my well of discipline to get it done.

Patience and Timing

I’ve hit a major plateau in my recovery, which my PT assures me will end in a few weeks when I can start doing dynamic movements. In the meantime, I have to be patient. Great things come with time, and life does not owe me anything.


Smith, AM. “Psychological Impact of Injuries in Athletes.” Sports Medicine 22.6 (1996): 391-405. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.


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3 responses to “How tearing my ACL has made me a better person”

  1. Vera says :

    Your comment “It also helps that my torn ACL has created a laser-focus on the people I have in my life and the abilities I still have in spite of my injury.” is absolutely brilliant! That’s exactly what I have been thinking recently. A really well written post, thanks for that!

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