Inspiring News Stories
Excerpts of Highly Inspiring News Stories in Major Media
Below are one-paragraph excerpts of highly inspiring news stories from the major media. Links are provided to the original stories on their media websites. If any link fails to function, click here. The inspiring news story summaries most recently posted here are listed first. You can explore the same list with the most inspiring stories listed first. See also a concise list providing headlines and links to a number of highly inspiring stories. May these articles inspire us to find ever more ways to love and support each other and all around us to be the very best we can be.
Psychedelic therapy is the use of psychedelic substances, often alongside traditional talk therapy (psychotherapy), as a treatment for mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, suicidality and PTSD. Michael Mithoefer, M.D. ... at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), likens psychedelic therapy to applying a cast to a broken bone. "[Psychedelic]-assisted therapy engages the mind's innate power to heal itself–the participants' â€inner healing intelligence,'" claims Dr. Mithoefer, going on to explain that "the source of the healing process is the person themselves–the psychedelic and therapists are catalysts." In the U.S., psychedelics continue to undergo medical trials, with some being granted a "breakthrough therapy" designation by the FDA, indicating that preliminary clinical evidence has shown the drug can demonstrate substantial improvement over currently available therapy. COMPASS Pathways, a mental health treatment company, received the designation for its psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression in 2018. In 2019, Usona Institute ... received the designation to continue its testing of psilocybin as a treatment for major depressive disorder. Psilocybin-assisted therapy is also being tested as a treatment for various addictions ... as well as certain conditions such as anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), cluster headaches, migraines and chronic pain.
Aaron Rodgers and Kenny Stills are among the few who have spoken publicly about their use of psychedelics for mental health purposes. But a future where the treatment is more widespread across sports may not be so far away. "Some people still ... don't recognize these as legitimate, life-saving medical medicines," [NBA agent Daniel] Poneman says. "There are athletes that I know who have had life-changing experiences with these medicines, but only a few of them are brave enough to speak out for fear of being stigmatized." There's still stigma around taking medication of any kind for mental illness, but it's slowly lessening. Aaron Rodgers said on a recent podcast that he has taken psychedelics to improve his mental health. The Packers' quarterback said he does not identify as having a mental illness like depression or anxiety, but that his most recent psychedelic experience–with ayahuasca, in March 2020, in Peru–has helped increase his "self-love." Before Rodgers spoke out, NFL free-agent wide receiver Kenny Stills was thought to be the only active professional athlete vocal about his psychedelic use. Stills, who last season played for the Saints, says his case of depression in 2016 felt like a "permanent cloud." Last year he went to a clinic run by Field Trip Health, a for-profit that provides people with ketamine-assisted psychotherapy–meaning they have to take the medication under supervision of a licensed therapist and debrief with them afterward.
It came to be known as the Sunflower movement, a sudden three-week stand-off in 2014 between the government and Taiwanese protesters. Months later, government officials arrived at a ... university campus to ask for the help of a group that few knew even existed: the civic hackers. Taiwan's civic hackers were organized around a leaderless collective called g0v (pronounced "gov zero.") Many believed in radical transparency ... and in the idea that everyone who is affected by a decision should have a say in it. They preferred establishing consensus to running lots of majority-rule votes. These were all principles, incidentally, that parallel thinking about how software should be designed – a philosophy that g0v had begun to apply to the arena of domestic politics. As g0v saw it, the problem of politics was essentially one of information. They needed a way not to measure division, but construct consensus. The hackers' answer was called vTaiwan. The platform invites citizens into an online space for debate that politicians listen to and take into account when casting their votes. As people expressed their views, rather than serving up the comments that were the most divisive, it gave the most visibility to those finding consensus. Soon, vTaiwan was being rolled out on issue after issue, especially those related to technology, and each time a hidden consensus was revealed. The system's potential to heal divisions, to reconnect people to politics, is a solution made for the problems of our age.
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Tucked away in the mountains of Japan's Shikoku island, a town of about 1,500 residents is on an ambitious path toward a zero-waste life. In 2003, Kamikatsu became the first municipality in Japan to make a zero-waste declaration. Since then, the town has transformed its open-air burning practices for waste disposal into a system of buying, consuming and discarding with the goal of reaching carbon neutrality. Now, the town estimates it is more than 80 percent of its way toward meeting that goal by 2030. The Zero Waste Center is the town's recycling facility, where residents can sort their garbage into 45 categories – there are nine ways to sort paper products alone – before they toss the rest into a pile for the incinerators. Residents clean and dry dirty items so they are suitable for recycling. The town offers an incentive system in which people can collect recycling points in exchange for eco-friendly products. There are signs depicting what new items will be made out of those recycled items, and how much money the town is saving by working with recycling companies rather than burning the trash. It's a way to remind them of their social responsibility. Attached to the Zero Waste Center is a thrift shop where residents can drop off items they don't want anymore, and others can take them free. All they need to do is weigh the item they take from the shop and log the weight in a ledger so the shop can keep track of the volume of reused items. In January alone, about 985 pounds' worth of items were rehomed.
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Michigan is a battleground state, in every sense of the word. Here, purple doesn't mean moderate; it means the 50-50, Red/Blue split is a chasm. On a recent Saturday in Traverse City, Mich., people gathered – half of them Red, the other half Blue – brought together by Braver Angels, a not-for-profit attempting to narrow the divide. "I'm here out of concern for our country, and our democracy," said one attendee, Jane. Started in 2016, Braver Angels now holds sessions nationwide. It was shaped by Bill Doherty, who teaches relationships at the University of Minnesota. He's also a marriage counselor. Correspondent Martha Teichner asked Doherty, "Is it a proper analogy: Reds and Blues in America, and couples on the brink of divorce?" "There is an analogy to couples on the brink," Doherty replied. "A big difference is that divorce is not possible in America." In Traverse City, participants arrived uneasy at first, defensive. Task #1 at a Red/Blue workshop: stereotypes. Reds and Blues, seated in separate rooms, are asked to list what "they" call "you." Facilitators then ask each side if there's is a kernel of truth in those stereotypes. Tim said, "The passion for the pro-life cause sometimes seems not to hear women." And so it goes, for three hours, peeling back the onion of opinion, looking for common ground. No trying to change anybody's mind. Divided they were, but they showed up, because they wanted to know each other not by label, but by name. Braver Angels has held more than 2,000 workshops and is growing.
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A plump larva the length of a paper clip can survive on the material that makes Styrofoam. The organism, commonly called a "superworm," could transform the way waste managers dispose of one of the most common components in landfills, researchers said, potentially slowing a mounting garbage crisis that is exacerbating climate change. In a paper released last week in the journal of Microbial Genomics, scientists from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, showed that the larvae of a darkling beetle, called zophobas morio, can survive solely on polystyrene, commonly called Styrofoam. The findings come amid a flurry of research on ways bacteria and other organisms can consume plastic materials, like Styrofoam and drinking bottles. Now, the researchers will study the enzymes that allow the superworm to digest Styrofoam, as they look to find a way to transform the finding into a commercial product. Industrial adoption offers a tantalizing scenario for waste managers: A natural way to dispose and recycle the Styrofoam trash that accounts for as much as 30 percent of landfill space worldwide. Among plastics, Styrofoam is particularly troublesome. The material is dense and takes up a lot of space, making it expensive to store at waste management facilities, industry experts said. The cups, plates and other materials made from it are also often contaminated with food and drink, making it hard to recycle. Polystyrene fills landfills, where it can often take 500 years to break down.
Enzymes that rapidly break down plastic bags have been discovered in the saliva of wax worms, which are moth larvae that infest beehives. The enzymes are the first reported to break down polyethylene within hours at room temperature. The discovery came after one scientist, an amateur beekeeper, cleaned out an infested hive and found the larvae started eating holes in a plastic refuse bag. The researchers said the study showed insect saliva may be "a depository of degrading enzymes which could revolutionise [the cleanup of polluting waste]". Polyethylene makes up 30% of all plastic production and is used in bags and other packaging that make up a significant part of worldwide plastic pollution. The only recycling at scale today uses mechanical processes and creates lower-value products. Chemical breakdown could create valuable chemicals or, with some further processing, new plastic, thereby avoiding the need for new virgin plastic made from oil. The enzymes can be easily synthesised and overcome a bottleneck in plastic degradation, the researchers said, which is the initial breaking of the polymer chains. That usually requires a lot of heating, but the enzymes work at normal temperatures, in water and at neutral pH. Previous discoveries of useful enzymes have been in microbes, with a 2021 study indicating that bacteria in oceans and soils across the globe are evolving to eat plastic. It found 30,000 different enzymes that might degrade 10 different types of plastic.
Note: This research was published in the journal Nature Communications. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Australia will set aside at least 30% of its land mass for conservation in a bid to protect plants and animals in the island continent famed for species found nowhere else in the world, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said. Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent and has one of the worst rates of species decline among the world's richest countries, a five-yearly environmental report card released in July by the government showed. That report showed the number of species added to the list of threatened species or in a higher category of risk grew on average by 8% from the previous report in 2016. "The need for action to protect our plants, animals and ecosystems from extinction has never been greater," Plibersek said in a statement. By prioritising 110 species and 20 places, Plibersek said the areas managed for conservation will be increased by 50 million hectares. Australia ... is home to unique animals like koalas and platypus although their numbers have been dwindling due to extreme weather events and human encroachment into their habitats. Koalas along much of the east coast were listed as endangered in February. Australia has been battered recently by frequent extreme weather events including the devastating bushfires in 2019 and 2020 in the east that killed ... billions of animals and burned an area nearly half the size of Germany.
She gave birth to Tsunamika, the doll that brought hope to hundreds of women who had lost everything in their life to the devastating 2004 tsunami that hit the southern India coast. Fifteen years down the line, she, again through Tsunamika is giving hope to the same ocean that once took away much from many. Uma Prajapati, 50, an entrepreneur-cum-social activist, who built the fashion garment company Upasana Design Studio in Auroville, now plans to carry out her business to sustain the future of the planet. Prajapati's mission is now to protect the environment and promote sustainable living for those dependent on it. Her fashion garments only uses khadi, organic cotton and handloom. "When I visited the tsunami-affected fishing villages in Puducherry, I saw the women staring emptily and silent. It suddenly struck me to ask them whether they would like to make dolls. My idea was to make them to focus on something else and ignite the fire of hope in their minds." When the fisherwomen agreed, Prajapati brought loads of garment waste from Upasana and taught them how to make tiny dolls - these were named 'Tsunamika'. She took the doll idea to several fishing villages in Puducherry and soon had thousands of dolls on hand giving rise to the concept of a 'gift economy'. The Tsunamika dolls are not sold but given as gifts. The recipient of the gift or others can make a donation as per their capacity. Donations received were used for making more dolls and payments made to the fisherwomen.
For only the second time, a U.S. president has officially recognized Indigenous Peoples' Day. President Biden issued a proclamation on Friday to observe this Oct. 10 as a day to honor Native Americans, their resilience and their contributions to American society throughout history, even as they faced assimilation, discrimination and genocide spanning generations. The move shifts focus from Columbus Day, the federal holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus, which shares the same date as Indigenous Peoples' Day this year. The idea was first proposed by Indigenous peoples at a United Nations conference in 1977 held to address discrimination against Natives. But South Dakota became the first state to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples day in 1989. Ten states and Washington, D.C., now recognize Indigenous Peoples' Day via proclamation. More than 100 cities celebrate the day, with many of them having altogether dropped the holiday honoring Columbus to replace it with Indigenous Peoples' Day. Oregon marked its first statewide recognition of Indigenous Peoples' Day, in place of Columbus Day, in 2021 after its legislature passed a bill brought by its Indigenous lawmakers. Rep. Tawna Sanchez, one of those lawmakers, said the movement to recognize the day is an ideal time to capitalize on the momentum of political recognition. "History is always written by the conqueror," said Sanchez. "How do we actually tell the truth about what happened?"
Recent research suggests that plants are far from the stationary automatons that most of us think of them as. And though they don't have brains in the same way most animals do, plants seem to possess a different set of evolutionary tools that suggest they may experience consciousness, albeit in a radically different way from us. Dr. Paco Calvo has an upcoming book, co-authored with Natalie Lawrence, called "Planta Sapiens: Unmasking Plant Intelligence." Calvo works at the MINT Lab (Minimal Intelligence Lab) at the University of Murcia in Spain. "Sentience, we may say, makes sense for life, as an essential underpinning to the business of living," Calvo explained. "And it is very unlikely that plants are not far more aware than we intuitively assume." To the "skeptics" who insist that consciousness must be tied to a central nervous system, and that plants would not need to evolve consciousness in the first place, "even if 'consciousness', as understood in vertebrates, is generated by complex neuronal systems, there is no objective way of knowing that subjective experience has not evolved with entirely different kinds of hardware in other organisms," Calvo argued. "We have no evidence to conclude that no brain means no awareness. It is certainly true that we cannot yet know if plants are conscious. But we also cannot assume that they are not." Calvo added, "Plants ... might well have significant conscious experience, although there is no way for us to intuit it nor for them to communicate it to us."
Most of the companies participating in a four-day workweek pilot program in Britain said they had seen no loss of productivity during the experiment, and in some cases had seen a significant improvement, according to a survey of participants. Nearly halfway into the six-month trial, in which employees at 73 companies get a paid day off weekly, 35 of the 41 companies that responded to a survey said they were "likely" or "extremely likely" to consider continuing the four-day workweek beyond the end of the trial in late November. All but two of the 41 companies said productivity was either the same or had improved. Remarkably, six companies said productivity had significantly improved. Talk of a four-day workweek has been around for decades. In 1956, then-Vice President Richard M. Nixon said he foresaw it in the "not too distant future," though it has not materialized on any large scale. But changes in the workplace over the coronavirus pandemic around remote and hybrid work have given momentum to questions about other aspects of work. Are we working five days a week just because we have done it that way for more than a century, or is it really the best way? More than 3,300 workers in banks, marketing, health care, financial services, retail, hospitality and other industries in Britain are taking part in the pilot, which is one of the largest studies to date. Experiments similar to the one conducted in Britain are being conducted ... in the United States, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Australia.
Belgium is the latest country to announce plans to offer employees the option to request a four-day workweek, as the government seeks to boost flexibility in the workplace amid the coronavirus crisis after what Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said had been two "difficult years." The overhaul of the country's labor laws will give workers more freedom – and the right to ignore their bosses and work emails after working hours, another growing trend in the coronavirus era. The agreement, which was struck by the seven-party coalition federal government, aims "to be able to make people and businesses stronger," De Croo said during a news conference Tuesday, adding that the country was seeking to become "more innovative, sustainable and digital." De Croo said his administration aims to incentivize more people to work. The employment rate in Belgium stood at roughly 71 percent at the end of last year, and the government hopes to increase that proportion to 80 percent by 2030. If trade unions agree, employees can opt to work for a maximum of 10 hours a day to accrue hours that will help them earn a three-day weekend. Previously, workdays were capped at eight hours. They can also choose to work more during one week and less the next. Employees will not be paid any less, and the decision will be theirs to make. "This has to be done at the request of the employee, with the employer giving solid reasons for any refusal," Labor Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne said.
An experimental drug has slowed the rate of decline in memory and thinking in people with early Alzheimer's disease. The cognition of Alzheimer's patients given the drug, developed by Eisai and Biogen, declined by 27% less than those on a placebo treatment after 18 months. This is a modest change in clinical outcome but it is the first time any drug has been clearly shown to alter the disease's trajectory. "This is a historic moment for dementia research, as this is the first phase 3 trial of an Alzheimer's drug in a generation to successfully slow cognitive decline," said Dr Susan Kohlhaas, the director of research at Alzheimer's Research UK. "Many people feel Alzheimer's is an inevitable part of ageing. This spells it out: if you intervene early you can make an impact on how people progress." In the study, which enrolled roughly 1,800 patients with early stage Alzheimer's, patients were given twice-weekly infusions of the drug, called lecanemab. It was also shown to reduce toxic plaques in the brain and slow patients' memory decline and ability to perform day-to-day tasks. The results offer a boost to the "amyloid hypothesis", which assumes that sticky plaques seen in the brains of dementia patients play a role in damaging brain cells and causing cognitive decline. A series of previous drug candidates had been shown to successfully reduce levels of amyloid in the brain, but without any improvement in clinical outcomes, leading some to question whether the research field had been on the wrong track.
In late August, Erin Alexander, 57, sat in the parking lot of a Target store in Fairfield, Calif., and wept. Her sister-in-law had recently died, and Ms. Alexander was having a hard day. A barista working at the Starbucks inside the Target was too. The espresso machine had broken down and she was clearly stressed. Ms. Alexander – who'd stopped crying and gone inside for some caffeine – smiled, ordered an iced green tea, and told her to hang in there. After picking up her order, she noticed a message on the cup: "Erin," the barista had scrawled next to a heart, "your soul is golden." The warmth of that small and unexpected gesture, from a stranger ... moved her deeply. New findings, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology in August, corroborate just how powerful experiences like Ms. Alexander's can be. Researchers found that people who perform a random act of kindness tend to underestimate how much the recipient will appreciate it. And they believe that miscalculation could hold many of us back from doing nice things for others more often. "People tend to think that what they are giving is kind of little, maybe it's relatively inconsequential," [study co-author Amit] Kumar said. "But recipients are less likely to think along those lines. They consider the gesture to be significantly more meaningful because they are also thinking about the fact that someone did something nice for them." What skills and talents do you already have? And how can you turn that into an offering for other people?"
Performing random acts of kindness increases happiness in both givers and receivers, but we find that givers systematically undervalue their positive impact on recipients. In both field and laboratory settings (Experiments 1a through 2b), those performing an act of kindness reported how positive they expected recipients would feel and recipients reported how they actually felt. From giving away a cup of hot chocolate in a park to giving away a gift in the lab, those performing a random act of kindness consistently underestimated how positive their recipients would feel, thinking their act was of less value than recipients perceived it to be. Givers' miscalibrated expectations are driven partly by an egocentric bias in evaluations of the act itself (Experiment 3). Whereas recipients' positive reactions are enhanced by the warmth conveyed in a kind act, givers' expectations are relatively insensitive to the warmth conveyed in their action. Underestimating the positive impact of a random act of kindness also leads givers to underestimate the behavioral consequences their prosociality will produce in recipients through indirect reciprocity (Experiment 4). We suggest that givers' miscalibrated expectations matter because they can create a barrier to engaging in prosocial actions more often in everyday life (Experiments 5a and 5b), which may result in people missing out on opportunities to enhance both their own and others' well-being.
People are fundamentally social beings and enjoy connecting with others, sometimes reaching out to others–whether simply to say hello and to check in on how others are doing with a brief message, or to send a small gift to show that one is thinking of the other person. Yet despite the importance and enjoyment of social connection, do people accurately understand how much other people value being reached out to by someone in their social circle? Across a series of pre-registered experiments, we document a robust underestimation of how much other people appreciate being reached out to. We find evidence compatible with an account wherein one reason this underestimation of appreciation occurs is because responders (vs. initiators) are more focused on their feelings of surprise at being reached out to; such a focus on feelings of surprise in turn predicts greater appreciation. We further identify process-consistent moderators of the underestimation of reach-out appreciation, finding that it is magnified when the reach-out context is more surprising: when it occurs within a surprising (vs. unsurprising) context for the recipient and when it occurs between more socially distant (vs. socially close) others. Altogether, this research thus identifies when and why we underestimate how much other people appreciate us reaching out to them, implicating a heightened focus on feelings of surprise as one underlying explanation.
While dozens of New Yorkers lined up outside in the rain, shopping carts at the ready as they waited for free food, Sofia Moncayo led her team in prayer. During the coronavirus pandemic, Moncayo has led the food distribution program through Mosaic West Queens Church in the Sunnyside neighborhood. The initiative began in March; Moncayo took charge a month later, as it expanded to serve hundreds of people. Since then, Moncayo has had her own struggles. She was furloughed from her job at a construction company and remains unemployed. And she also owes five months of rent for the martial arts studio that she owns with her husband in the neighborhood. But she has continued to lead fundraisers and coordinate dozens of volunteers who distribute more than 1,000 boxes of food to families twice a week. "I think helping others has to do something to your brain chemically because if we had not being doing everything that we're doing, I think this would have been a much scarier time," she said. "Being able to dig in and help others, it really gives you perspective and helps you believe that you're going to be OK too. One of the things that we wanted to make sure is that we don't look at people on the pantry line as people that need food, and really focus on, â€hey, these are our neighbors.'" Carol Sullivan lost her stage manager job when Broadway theaters closed because of the virus. She was hesitant at first about receiving food from a pantry, but she said that Moncayo and the other volunteers made her feel welcome.
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Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, his spouse and two adult children are giving away their ownership in the apparel maker he started some 50 years ago, dedicating all profits from the company to projects and organizations that will protect wild land and biodiversity and fight the climate crisis. The company is worth about $3 billion. In a letter about the decision, published on the Patagonia website on Wednesday, Choiunard wrote of "reimagining capitalism," and said: "While we're doing our best to address the environmental crisis, it's not enough. We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company's values intact. One option was to sell Patagonia and donate all the money. But we couldn't be sure a new owner would maintain our values or keep our team of people around the world employed. Another path was to take the company public. What a disaster that would have been. Even public companies with good intentions are under too much pressure to create short-term gain at the expense of long-term vitality and responsibility. Truth be told, there were no good options available. So, we created our own." The privately held company's stock will now be owned by a climate-focused trust and group of nonprofit organizations, called the Patagonia Purpose Trust and the Holdfast Collective respectively, the company said in a statement, noting "every dollar that is not reinvested back into Patagonia will be distributed as dividends to protect the planet."
From Hawaii to Bali and the ski-slopes of Perisher, 26-year-old Jimmy Antram has seen plenty of the world. But it has all been from the vantage point of his mother's back. Fulfilling a promise she made to herself as a 17-year-old first-time mum to give her disabled son the best life she possibly could, Niki Antram has spent years travelling the globe with Jimmy clinging to her shoulders. Jimmy was born with physical and mental disabilities, including blindness, and requires round the clock care from Ms Antram and his support workers. He has a wheelchair, but Ms Antram has never enjoyed using it. She's content to carry him while she's physically able and helps him walk short distances on his own. Incredible photographs taken around the globe show him clinging on as they hike through mountains and rainforests. 'Planning big holidays, I always make sure I have plenty of nappies, clothes, and even bed pads, sheets and pillowcases,' she [said]. Ms Antram plans a meticulous itinerary and calls ahead for every venue she wants to visit - whether it be a restaurant, hotel or daredevil adventure. 'Even if I know we will be okay I like to inform the companies to give them a heads up about us to make sure they understand and are okay with having us there,' she says. Sometimes, they can't accommodate. This is usually because of risks associated with Jimmy's condition or logistical difficulties. Ms Antram said the exception to this was in Hawaii, where 'everyone wanted [Jimmy] to join'.
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