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Holocaust Survivor on Happiness, Shooting Victim Forgives Attacker, More
Inspiring News Articles
December 16, 2016

Hey awesome friends,

olocaust Survivor on Happiness, Shooting Victim Forgives Attacker

Explore below key excerpts of inspiring news articles with great information on a holocaust survivor talking about the importance of meaning in finding happiness, the shooting victim who promoted forgiveness and campaigned to prevent his attacker from being put to death for other hate crimes, a new study showing a reduction in psychological disorder symptoms in 80 percent of its cancer patient participants, and more.

Each inspiring excerpt is taken verbatim from the media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails, click here. The key sentences are highlighted in case you just want to skim. Please spread the inspiration and have a great one!

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Fred Burks for the PEERS websites

Special note: Listen to an incredibly beautiful rendition of the song Amazing Grace. Watch and listen to what some feel is the best version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" by the a capella group Pentatonix. If you think things have never been worse, watch this eye-opening video. Read a beautiful, inspiring article on a man who was accused of rape, and how he turned it around. Watch an unusual and inspiring video of Abraham Hicks talking about the recent US elections. A beautiful, two-minute video of U.S. veterans apologizing to Native Americans for stealing and pillaging their land shows how our times are changing.

Quote of the week: Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it."  ~~  Rumi

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A Psychiatrist Who Survived The Holocaust Explains Why Meaningfulness Matters More Than Happiness
October 22, 2014, Business Insider
http://www.businessinsider.com/a-lesson-about-happiness-from-a-holocaust-survivor...

In September 1942, Viktor Frankl, a prominent Jewish psychiatrist and neurologist in Vienna, was arrested and transported to a Nazi concentration camp. Three years later, when his camp was liberated, most of his family, including his pregnant wife, had perished. In his bestselling 1946 book, Man's Search for Meaning ... Frankl concluded that the difference between those who had lived and those who had died came down to one thing: Meaning. Those who found meaning even in the most horrendous circumstances were far more resilient to suffering than those who did not. "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing," Frankl wrote in Man's Search for Meaning, "the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." Having purpose and meaning in life increases overall well-being and life satisfaction, improves mental and physical health, enhances resiliency, enhances self-esteem, and decreases the chances of depression. On top of that, the single-minded pursuit of happiness is ironically leaving people less happy, according to recent research. "It is the very pursuit of happiness," Frankl knew, "that thwarts happiness." The pursuit of meaning is what makes human beings uniquely human. By putting aside our selfish interests to serve someone or something larger than ourselves ... we are not only expressing our fundamental humanity, but are also acknowledging that that there is more to the good life than the pursuit of simple happiness.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Texas death row killer forgiven by shooting victim
July 19, 2011, BBC News
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-14199078

In the nine years Mark Stroman has been on death row in Texas, he says he has watched 208 people walk past him on the way to be executed. This week it is his turn. Following 11 September, 2001, Stroman attacked three people, killing two of them. He was targeting anyone he considered an "Arab", calling it revenge for 9/11. "What Mark Stroman did was a hate crime, and hate crimes come from ignorance," said Rais Bhuiyan, 37, the only man to survive the shooting[s]. "His execution will not eradicate hate crimes from this world, we will just simply lose another human life." [Bhuiyan] needed many operations, has lost the sight in his right eye and still carries shotgun pellets in his face, but is now campaigning hard to prevent his attacker from being put to death. "This campaign is all about passion, forgiveness, tolerance and healing. We should not stay in the past," he said. "If I can forgive my offender who tried to take my life, we can all work together to forgive each other and move forward and take a new narrative on the 10th anniversary of 11 September." He had been in touch with Stroman, who he would like to see as "a spokesperson, an educator, teaching a lot of people as ignorant as him what is wrong". Stroman says he has asked himself the question a thousand times - would he be able to forgive the man who shot him in the face? He said he would find it very hard. "I tried to kill this man, and this man is now trying to save my life. This man is inspiring to me."

Note: Watch a moving five-minute video of this beautiful story of compassion and transformation. See also this New York Times interview with Rais Bhuiyan.


A Dose of a Hallucinogen From a ‘Magic Mushroom,’ and Then Lasting Peace
December 1, 2016, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/01/health/hallucinogenic-mushrooms-psilocybin-cancer...

On a summer morning in 2013, Octavian Mihai entered a softly lit room. He swallowed a capsule of psilocybin, an ingredient found in hallucinogenic mushrooms. Then he put on an eye mask and headphones and lay down on a couch. Mr. Mihai, who had just finished treatment for Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was participating in a study looking at whether the drug can reduce anxiety and depression in cancer patients. Throughout that eight-hour session, a psychiatrist and a social worker ... stayed by his side. The results from that study, and a similar small, controlled trial, were striking. About 80 percent of cancer patients showed clinically significant reductions in both psychological disorders, a response sustained some seven months after the single dose. Side effects were minimal. In both trials, the intensity of the mystical experience described by patients correlated with the degree to which their depression and anxiety decreased. Although cancer patients will not have access to therapeutically administered psilocybin anytime soon, the findings add vigor to applications to expand research in a multicenter trial with hundreds of participants. Psilocybin trials are underway in the United States and Europe for alcoholism, tobacco addiction and treatment-resistant depression. Other hallucinogens are also being studied for clinical application. This week, the Food and Drug Administration approved a large-scale trial investigating MDMA, the illegal party drug better known as Ecstasy, for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Note: See another article in the UK's Independent showing remarkable results from these studies. Learn more about the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs now being explored by the scientific community.


Releasing confidence: prison entrepreneurship programs offer path
December 20, 2015, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Releasing-confidence-prison...

Nearly 50 Bay Area executives and professionals packed into a gymnasium last week at the state prison in Solano County and lined up, toe to toe, with a row of convicted criminals. For most entrepreneurs, it was a ... a place they had never been. But it was all too familiar for Kenyatta Leal, [who] left San Quentin in 2013 after 19 years behind bars. He was among the first to graduate from the Last Mile Program - a prison initiative [run by Defy Ventures, which is] intended to turn offenders into entrepreneurs. In one exercise, inmates and volunteers were given a prompt and told to step forward or backward depending on whether it applied to them. “I have been incarcerated,” read Brian Moll, Defy Ventures’ executive director for the Bay Area. Every inmate stepped forward. So did a handful of entrepreneurs. One by one, the professionals fell back - all but Leal, who stood alone in his beige suit. “No. No way,” said Oakland native Leonard Halfin, 46, who has been incarcerated for 25 years on a second-degree-murder charge. “I can’t believe that. I would have never thought he was one of us.” This, said Defy founder and chief executive Catherine Hoke, is the most important takeaway: It allows felons to realize that they have potential. Hoke’s hope is that participating in programs like Defy’s will help inmates formulate plans and sharpen professional skills that can help them become successful.

Note: Watch a great, short video on this impressive program. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Black female physicist pioneers technology that kills cancer cells with lasers
September 1, 2016, New York Times
http://nytlive.nytimes.com/womenintheworld/2016/01/09/black-female-physicist...

Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green is one of fewer than 100 black female physicists in the country, and the recent winner of $1.1 million grant to further develop a technology she’s pioneered that uses laser-activated nanoparticles to treat cancer. Green, who lost her parents young, was raised by her aunt and uncle. While still at school, her aunt died from cancer, and three months later her uncle was diagnosed with cancer, too. Green went on to earn her degree in physics at Alabama A&M University, being crowned Homecoming Queen while she was at it, before going on full scholarship to University of Alabama in Birmingham to earn her Masters and Ph.D. There Green would become the first to work out how to deliver nanoparticles into cancer cells exclusively, so that a laser could be used to remove them, and then successfully carry out her treatment on living animals. As she takes on her growing responsibilities, Green still makes time to speak at schools, Boys & Girls Clubs and other youth events. “Young black girls don’t see those role models (scientists) as often as they see Beyonce or Nicki Minaj,” says Green. “It’s important to know that our brains are capable of more.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Barbershop gives special discount to kids who read aloud
October 17, 2016, CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/barbershop-gives-special-discount-to-kids-who-read-aloud/

In this small barbershop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, kids pick out a book and head to the chair. It’s like clockwork. That’s because children 12 and under who visit The Fuller Cut can get a $2 discount on their $11 haircut for doing a simple task: reading to the barber. It’s a program owner Alexander Fuller and barber Ryan Griffin started more than a year ago. And parents can’t get enough of it. The pair can’t take credit for the idea. They just happened to hear about other shops around the country taking part in a “read to your barber program,” and they decided to get on board. Fuller and his wife started ordering some books and Griffin brought in a shelf. Customers even joined the cause by donating old and used books. Before the pair knew it, kids were grabbing books off the shelf and hopping into the chair to start reading. Roughly 90 percent of kids grab a book that’s already on the shelf, Fuller says, but occasionally kids bring in books from home or school as well. “It gives them confidence in reading and helps us understand their comprehension of reading,” Fuller said. “The kids love it. It’s one of the best things that has come along for them.” Another bonus, Fuller added, is that it helps kids socialize. Not only does it improve their reading skills, but their manners as well. Whether you can read well or can’t read well, the barbers will help you along the way, Fuller reminds his customers. “It’s been a great experience so far, Fuller said.”

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Yogic breathing helps fight major depression, study shows
November 22, 2016, Science Daily
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161122182357.htm

A breathing-based meditation practice known as Sudarshan Kriya yoga helped alleviate severe depression in people who did not fully respond to antidepressant treatments, reports a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Researchers found significant improvement in symptoms of depression and anxiety in medicated patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) who participated in the breathing technique compared to medicated patients who did not partake. More than half of the 41 million Americans who take antidepressants do not fully respond. Add-on therapies are often prescribed to enhance the effects of the drugs in these patients, but they typically offer limited additional benefits and come with side effects that can [prolong] the depressive episode. The meditation technique ... includes a series of sequential, rhythm-specific breathing exercises that bring people into a deep, restful, and meditative state: slow and calm breaths alternated with fast and stimulating breaths. In past studies, the practice has demonstrated a positive response in patients with milder forms of depression, depression due to alcohol dependence, and in patients with MDD; however, there are no clinical studies investigating its use for depression in an outpatient setting. Past studies suggest that yoga and other controlled breathing techniques can potentially adjust the nervous system to reduce stress hormones.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The Running Program That's Pulled 13,000 Out of Homelessness
November 30, 2016, Daily Good
http://www.dailygood.org/story/1451/the-running-program-that-s-pulled-13-000-out...

On a recent Friday morning, a group of about 20 homeless guys warmed up in a parking lot across the street from three shelters in East Harlem. In a circle, they did jumping jacks, twisted their torsos and touched their toes. Fifteen minutes later, they huddled up, chanted the Serenity Prayer ... and took off running. Ryan ... began jogging with the group, known as Back on My Feet, seven months ago. Never a runner, he always wondered what the big deal about it was. Ask him today, however, and he’ll tell you it’s “so natural, almost spiritual.” Back on My Feet is a program that uses running to help the homeless get their lives back on track. In addition to connecting participants with housing and jobs, Back on My Feet is founded on the notion that running can change a person’s self-image. Early morning exercise, three days a week, provides an outlet for pent-up emotions and starts to change the way someone thinks about hard work. If the concept seems hokey or contrived, the program’s numbers show that’s not the case. Back on My Feet’s program has reached 5,200 homeless individuals. More than 1,900 have obtained employment, and 1,300 have moved into independent housing. Waking up so early every morning - whether the thermometer’s bubbling over or when it’s frozen solid - instills discipline and responsibility in the participants. They’re two valuable concepts, but both are hard to teach in the abstract. They need to be lived to be experienced.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


F.D.A. Agrees to New Trials for Ecstasy as Relief for PTSD Patients
November 29, 2016, New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/29/us/ptsd-mdma-ecstasy.html?_r=1

After three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, C. J. Hardin wound up hiding from the world. He had tried almost all the accepted treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder. “Nothing worked for me,” said Mr. Hardin. Then, in 2013, he joined a small drug trial testing whether PTSD could be treated with MDMA, the illegal party drug better known as Ecstasy. “It changed my life,” he said. “It allowed me to see my trauma without fear or hesitation and finally process things and move forward.” Based on promising results like Mr. Hardin’s, the Food and Drug Administration gave permission Tuesday for large-scale, Phase 3 clinical trials of the drug - a final step before the possible approval of Ecstasy as a prescription drug. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a small nonprofit created in 1985 ... sponsored six Phase 2 studies treating a total of 130 PTSD patients. Two trials ... focused on treating combat veterans, sexual assault victims, and police and firefighters with PTSD who had not responded to traditional prescription drugs or psychotherapy. Patients had, on average, struggled with symptoms for 17 years. After three doses of MDMA administered under a psychiatrist’s guidance, the patients reported a 56 percent decrease of severity of symptoms on average, one study found. By the end of the study, two-thirds no longer met the criteria for having PTSD. Follow-up examinations found that improvements lasted more than a year after therapy.

Note: Read more about how MDMA has been found effective for treating PTSD in a therapeutic context. This FDA approval to begin Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA suggests that the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs are gaining mainstream scientific credibility.


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