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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.


Note: This comprehensive list of inspiring news stories is usually updated once a week. See also a full index to revealing excerpts of key news articles on several dozen engaging topics.

Psychedelics as Antidepressants
2021-01-30, Scientific American
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/psychedelics-as-antidepressants/

As of 2018, nearly one in eight Americans use antidepressants. Unfortunately, more than a third of patients are resistant to the mood-improving benefits of medicine's best antidepressant drugs. These people are not completely out of options. There are chemicals already out there that can restore their mood balance, and in some cases, even save their lives. Chemicals such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin (magic mushrooms) and dimethyltryptamine (DMT) are more accurately called "serotonergic psychedelics" among the neuroscience community. At the correct doses, psychedelics are well tolerated, producing only minor side effects such as transient fear, perception of illusions, nausea/vomiting or headaches. These fleeting side effects pale in comparison to the severity of commonly prescribed antidepressants, which include dangerous changes in heart rate and blood pressure, paradoxical increases in suicidality, and withdrawal symptoms. As far as outcomes go, psychedelics in combination with psychotherapy are remarkably efficient at treating depression. Compared to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, the current gold standard in antidepressant medication, psychedelics have a faster effect on patients, sometimes effective with only a single therapy session. Psychedelics also have a longer-lasting effect than an SSRI regimen. A 2015 study ... demonstrated that past history of psychedelic use decreases the odds of suicidal thoughts or actions over the course of a lifetime.

Note: Read more about the healing potentials of psychedelic medicine. Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Mangrove forest thrives around what was once Latin America's largest landfill
2023-07-26, CBS/Associated Press
https://www.cbs42.com/news/international/ap-mangrove-forest-thrives-around-wh...

It was once Latin America's largest landfill. Now, a decade after Rio de Janeiro shut it down and redoubled efforts to recover the surrounding expanse of highly polluted swamp, crabs, snails, fish and birds are once again populating the mangrove forest. "If we didn't say this used to be a landfill, people would think it's a farm. The only thing missing is cattle," jokes Elias Gouveia, an engineer with Comlurb, the city's garbage collection agency that is shepherding the plantation project. "This is an environmental lesson that we must learn from: nature is remarkable. If we don't pollute nature, it heals itself." The former landfill is located right by the 148 square miles (383 square kilometers) Guanabara Bay. Between the landfill's inauguration in 1968 and 1996, some 80 million tons of garbage were dumped in the area, polluting the bay and surrounding rivers with trash and runoff. In 1996, the city began implementing measures to limit the levels of pollution in the landfill, starting with treating some of the leachate, the toxic byproduct of mountains of rotting trash. But garbage continued to pile up until 2012, when the city finally shut it down. Mangroves are of particular interest for environmental restoration for their capacity to capture and store large amounts of planet-warming carbon dioxide, Gouveia explained. Experts say mangroves can bury even more carbon in the sediment than a tropical rainforest, making it a great tool to fight climate change. Comlurb and its private partner, Statled Brasil, have successfully recovered some 60 hectares.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


'It's a beautiful thing': how one Paris district rediscovered conviviality
2022-07-14, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jul/14/its-a-beautiful-thing-how-one-p...

A 215-metre-long banquet table, lined with 648 chairs and laden with a home cooked produce, was set up along the Rue de l'Aude and those in attendance were urged to openly utter the most subversive of words: bonjour. For some, that greeting led to the first meaningful exchange between neighbours. "I'd never seen anything like it before," says Benjamin Zhong who runs a cafe in the area. "It felt like the street belonged to me, to all of us." The revolutionaries pledged their allegiance that September day in 2017 to the self-styled R©publique des Hyper Voisins, or Republic of Super Neighbours, a stretch of the 14th arrondissement on the Left Bank, encompassing roughly 50 streets and 15,000 residents. In the five years since, the republic – a "laboratory for social experimentation" – has attempted to address the shortcomings of modern city living, which can be transactional, fast-paced, and lonely. The experiment encourages people ... to interact daily through mutual aid schemes, voluntary skills-sharing and organised meet ups. A recent event at the Place des Droits de l'Enfant allowed neighbours to celebrate reclaiming the public space. A lifeless road junction ... no longer performed its role as an "urban square" – a place for life, interaction and meetings. But after residents were consulted about what they thought the square should become, it was cleaned, pedestrianised, planted and had street clutter removed with a grant of nearly 200,000 euros from the City of Paris.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


From Bayanihan to Talkoot: Communal work practices from around the world
2021-05-18, Shareable
https://www.shareable.net/from-bayanihan-to-talkoot-communal-work-practices-f...

Communal work refers to a collaborative effort where members of a community come together to achieve a common goal or objective. Different cultures have different names for it, such as Talkoot (Finland), Gotong-royong (Indonesia), Nachbarschaftshilfe (Germany), and Bayanihan in the Philippines. During the eruption of the Taal volcano in the Philippines, the traditional support networks known as Bayanihan came into effect not as a temporary solution to the disaster but as an innate response that Filipinos have in both good times and bad. A response that may have its root in their concept of the "shared self" or Kapwa. Unlike the English word ‘Other', Kapwa is not used in opposition to the self and does not recognize the self as a separate identity. Rather, Kapwa is the unity of self and others and hence implies a shared identity or inner self. From this arises the sense of fellow being that underlies Filipino social interaction. Not only is it socially beneficial, but also the act of completing the task with others is infinitely rewarding. In the book "Shop Class as Soulcraft," Matthew Crawford writes: "The satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy. They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on."

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our comprehensive inspiring news articles archive focused on solutions and bridging divides.


Why a game in which you look for a real, live pink elephant could help save the world
2023-07-09, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2023/07/09/1185014763/why-a-game-in...

Edgard Gouveia Jr., 58, says the key to solving the world's problems is games. "I use games and narrative to mobilize crowds," says the Brazilian game inventor and co-founder of Livelab. He's worked with schools, companies, government offices and slums. "Games that can make a whole town, a whole city or even a whole country play together." And now he's developing a global game called "Jornada X" whose goal is to get kids and teenagers to save nothing less than all life on the planet. Through games and playful activities, we create a field of trust. When you create abundance of connection, abundance of possibility, people sense it right away. It doesn't matter if for 30 or 40 years they were living in scarcity. By belonging to a group that we love and that's doing good in the world – these are ways of energizing our collective power, our collective meaning. When you do some good, you feel like you have an identity. [Jornada X] starts with young people. They receive a call that's like a Matrix video that says, "Humanity isn't doing well. Society is violent and nature is dying. But you are one of a group of special kids with superpowers – things like love, helping others, strength, and friendship. As soon as they sign up, the team starts to receive missions. We might say, "Look at your neighborhood. What's wrong?" By the end of seven weeks, they have to find a solution ... Kids play war games all the time. They collaborate to kill people. It's not that they like death, but they want to have this kind of adrenaline. What could be more exciting? My answer is saving the planet in a way that adults haven't been able to."

Note: The latest US Air Force recruitment tool is a video game that allows players to receive in-game medals and achievements for drone bombing Iraqis and Afghans. What world do we want our youth to live in? Explore more positive stories like this in our inspiring news articles archive, which aims to inspire each of us to make a difference.


'It Affects All of Us': Free Financial Counseling Helps Tulsans Thrive
2023-07-13, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/tulsa-financial-empowerment-center-stability/

In 2021, Latoya Tart found herself deep in debt. She had taken out several loans, and struggled to pay them off while still paying for other necessities, including rent and groceries. Then Tart ... learned about a program offering financial counseling free of charge to any resident of Tulsa, Oklahoma. She started seeing a financial counselor at The Financial Empowerment Center in September 2021. The Center is a partnership between the City of Tulsa and Goodwill Industries. "We are really building capacity at the city level, to support and grow and build collaboration among the providers in town who are working to move the needle on financial stability, financial resiliency for Tulsans," says Janae Bradford, director of the City of Tulsa's Office for Financial Empowerment and Community Wealth. During the first session with each new client, a counselor conducts a financial health assessment. "That's where the counselor and the client just go through the financial situation," she says. "How much are you making from your job? What money is coming in? What money's going out? And it's a completely non-judgmental, just comfortable, conversation about what are the facts." Then the counselor and client decide on their main focus area and set a goal. Since the Center opened in December 2020, the FEC has worked with more than 1,300 clients, and counselors have completed more than 2,000 sessions. There are currently 639 active clients working with counselors on their financial goals.

Note: Explore more positive stories like this in our inspiring news articles archive, which aims to inspire each of us to make a difference.


This Brazilian activist stared down mining giants to protect the rainforest she loves
2023-06-11, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2023/06/11/1181172630/this-brazilia...

Destruction in the Amazon is, once again, approaching an all-time high. Some 335 square miles of rainforest were felled in the first three months of 2023 alone, the second worst quarter in the last 16 years. In 2015, the Munduruku [Indigenous people] had long been fighting the extractive industries encroaching on their land. But this was the first time Korap Munduruku, a 38-year-old teacher and mother of two whose face and body are often painted with traditional geometric designs of her people, decided to take a stand and join them. "So our rights are being violated. Everything going on here is wrong," she recalls saying at the meeting. "We need to do something about it. We can't just sit here and do nothing." The next meeting was with her chief and other leaders from the wider community – there are more than 13,000 Munduruku in Brazil. She eventually left the classroom to take up the fight for land rights full-time. Before long she learned that Anglo American, one of the world's largest mining companies, had applied to extract copper on Sawr© Muybu, a Munduruku territory next to her own. That information and the fight that she would lead against the developers led Korap Munduruku to become one of six recipients of the prestigious 2023 Goldman Environmental Prize, which honors grassroots environmental activists. She built a coalition of other Munduruku and, along with 45 chiefs and 200 other participants, published a declaration in December 2020 opposing mining and deforestation in the Amazon.

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


Still nurturing love and vines: the centenarian who built Barcelona's first roof garden
2023-06-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jun/26/barcelona-centenarian-org...

When Joan Carulla Figueres turned the roof terrace of his Barcelona apartment into a garden, it was out of nostalgia for his rural origins. Sixty-five years later, the ecological concepts he has long followed have become commonplace, and he is acclaimed as a pioneer of organic farming. Carulla, who celebrated his 100th birthday this year, is credited with creating the city's first roof garden. However, his "allotment in the sky" boasts far more than the usual tomato plants and pots of geraniums. It is home to more than 40 fruit trees, vines that produce 100kg (220lbs) of grapes a year, olives, peaches, figs, garlic, aubergines and even potatoes. He is passionate about potatoes. His approach to agriculture is what today we call organic, but Carulla insists he is not doing anything new and that poor farmers have always practised organic farming out of necessity. "My grandparents had little land and no money for fertiliser," he says. "They used animal and vegetable waste and straw. We lived a frugal life. We didn't go hungry, we just lived." Like his forebears, Carulla makes compost from everything, including old magazines and thin wooden fruit boxes. "There's almost nothing we don't use, everything decomposes eventually." If the war made him a vegetarian, it also made him a pacifist. He was 15 when Juneda was bombed and strafed by fascist warplanes. Carulla speaks with sorrow of the 117 people killed in the village and how the reprisals carried out by both sides at the end of the war broke his father's spirit and drove his mother to an early grave. "She was one of the war's silent victims," he says. "I think she died from pain and suffering." He also talks about how at the age of 10 he had an epiphany when he vowed to become un generador de amor (someone who generates love). "I don't know where this phrase came from, but I decided that what I had to do was to create love in everyone, universal love."

Note: Don't miss a great video on Figueres and his garden. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Walking and yoga 'can cut risk of cancer spreading or returning'
2023-06-06, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/jun/06/walking-and-yoga-can-cut-risk...

Walking for 30 minutes a day and practising yoga can help reduce fatigue in cancer patients and cut the risk of the disease spreading, coming back or resulting in death, research suggests. Globally, more than 18 million people develop cancer every year. It is well known that being inactive raises your risk of various forms of the disease. For decades, many oncologists and health professionals have remained reluctant to push patients to exercise in the wake of sometimes gruelling treatment regimes. But the tide appears to be turning. Three studies presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the world's largest cancer conference, add weight to growing evidence that physical activity can help, not hinder, patients. The first study [examined] the impact of yoga's effect on inflammation. The research ... found those who took up yoga had "significantly lower levels of pro-inflammatory markers" compared with patients in the other group. In the second study, [participants] attended 75-minute yoga or health education classes twice a week for four weeks. Yoga was found to be better at helping relieve fatigue and maintain quality of life, the research found. A third study found cancer patients who are active can reduce their risk of dying by almost a fifth. Patients were ranked by their activity levels, with "active" classed as going for at least one 30-minute walk five days a week. After 180 days, 90% of people in the active group were still alive, compared with 74% in the sedentary group.

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


How social media platforms can reduce polarization
2022-12-21, Brookings Institute
https://www.brookings.edu/articles/how-social-media-platforms-can-reduce-pola...

Polarization is widely recognized as one of the most pressing issues now facing the United States. Even as polarization has increased in recent years, survey research has consistently shown that many Americans think the nation is more divided than it truly is. Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans think they dislike each other more than they actually do. Social media companies are often blamed for driving greater polarization by virtue of the way they segment political audiences and personalize recommendations in line with their users' existing beliefs and preferences. Given their scale and reach, however, they are also uniquely positioned to help reduce polarization. Jamie Settle's work demonstrates, through a combination of surveys and experiments, that affective polarization is likely to rise when social media users encounter content with partisan cues, even if the content is not explicitly political. A 2020 study by Hunt Allcott and colleagues echoes these concerns. The authors asked some participants to refrain from using Facebook for four weeks. Afterward, these participants reported holding less polarized political views than those who had not been asked to refrain from using Facebook. Deactivating Facebook also made people less hostile toward "the other party." When people interact with someone from their social "outgroup," they often come to view that outgroup in a more favorable light. Spreading more examples of positive intergroup contact ... could go a long way.

Note: Read the full article to explore what social media platforms can do to reduce polarization. For more, read how the people of Taiwan created an online space for debate where politicians can interact with citizens in ways that foreground consensus, and not division.


Calling In: Loretta J. Ross's Antidote to Cancel Culture
2022-10-24, Atmos
https://atmos.earth/calling-in-macarthur-fellow-loretta-j-ross-cancel-culture/

What does it take to have a challenging conversation in the era of cancel culture? For MacArthur Fellow Loretta J. Ross, the answer lies in calling in: a communicative strategy rooted in compassion, accountability, and restorative justice. Cancel culture [is] a phenomenon whereby people deemed to be moral transgressors are publicly discredited on social media platforms, and in some instances, punished through cultural, social, and professional ostracism. Professor Ross thinks this readiness to cancel a person on the basis of their beliefs is toxic. Instead, she espouses empathy and stresses the importance of context in challenging conversations. Calling in is not what you do for other people–it's what you do for yourself. It gives you a chance to offer love, grace, and respect, and to showcase one's own integrity and one's own ability to hold nuance and depth. People mistakenly think that you're doing it because you're trying to change somebody else. That's not possible. And since we don't have the power to control and change others, the only power we're left with is self-empowerment. In this sense, calling in is a conscious decision to not make the world crueler than it needs to be. We're all capable of using a technique I call "the mental parking lot" where you temporarily put aside any visceral reactions you have to what others are saying. It's a technique that requires you not to pay attention to your reaction but rather to devote your focus and respect to the person you're talking to.

Note: Smith College Professor and civil rights activist Loretta Ross worked with Ku Klux Klan members and practiced restorative justice with incarcerated men convicted or raping and murdering women. Watch Loretta Ross's powerful Ted Talk on simple tools to help shift our culture from fighting each other to working together in the face of polarizing social issues.


Brain Waves Synchronize when People Interact
2023-07-01, Scientific American
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/brain-waves-synchronize-when-peopl...

Collective neuroscience, as some practitioners call it, is a rapidly growing field of research. An early, consistent finding is that when people converse or share an experience, their brain waves synchronize. Neurons in corresponding locations of the different brains fire at the same time, creating matching patterns, like dancers moving together. Auditory and visual areas respond to shape, sound and movement in similar ways, whereas higher-order brain areas seem to behave similarly during more challenging tasks such as making meaning out of something seen or heard. The experience of "being on the same wavelength" as another person is real, and it is visible in the activity of the brain. Interbrain synchrony prepares people for interaction and beginning to understand it as a marker of relationships. Given that synchronized experiences are often enjoyable, researchers suspect this phenomenon is beneficial: it helps us interact and may have facilitated the evolution of sociality. This new kind of brain research might also illuminate why we don't always "click" with someone or why social isolation is so harmful to physical and mental health. Preliminary evidence ... shows synchrony between interacting brains and, more intriguingly, that correlations in some brain regions are greater between people while they are telling a joint story than during the independent stories, particularly in the parietal cortex. "That area is active for memory and narrative construction," [neuroscientist Thalia] Wheatley says. "It seems to fit."

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


Faced with a violent killing, a family chooses forgiveness over prison
2023-06-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jun/26/restorative-justice-murder-ch...

Alex Fields had not spoken to his nephew in four years. Not since the killing. But when his nephew Donald Fields Jr finally appeared over Zoom from the county jail, Alex Fields was consumed by the moment. Don Jr was charged with the murder of his father, Donald Fields Sr, in 2016. Today was the first step in a long journey that would see a tragedy transformed into a pioneering case of compassion in America's punitive criminal justice system. It marked the first time that restorative justice – the act of resolving crimes through community reconciliation and accountability over traditional punishment – had been used in a homicide case in the state of North Carolina. And probably the first case of its kind in the US. The DA's office forged a new plea deal, which offered Don Jr the opportunity to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter, which could see him sentenced to "time served". The family worked on a new repair agreement, which was 13 points long and had conditions facilitating Don Jr's release. There is increasing evidence that use of restorative justice lowers rates of recidivism. Those who are victims of violence are far more likely to become perpetrators of violent acts later on. "Just as we cannot incarcerate our way out of violence, we cannot reform our way out of mass incarceration without taking on the question of violence," [Danielle Sered] writes. "The context in which violence happens matters, as do the identities and experiences of those involved."

Note: Danielle Sered is the founder of a Brooklyn-based restorative justice organization Common Justice, which is the first alternative-to-incarceration and victim-service program in the United States that focuses on violent felonies in the adult courts. For further reading, explore her book, Until We Reckon: Violence, Mass Incarceration, and a Road to Repair.


Strangers became roommates through a program that connects formerly incarcerated with safe places to live:
2023-02-03, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/homecoming-project-formerly-incarcerated-matched...

Last year, when Tyler Jenk was looking for a roommate to share his house in Oakland, California, he met man named Askari Johnson who was looking for a fresh start. Johnson had recently been released from San Quentin State Prison after more than 20 years. The pair ended up forming a symbiotic relationship as roommates, despite coming from different walks of life. While in prison, Johnson had several goals for his new life. One of them was to live independently. His lawyer told him about The Homecoming Project. "The Homecoming Project is a program to place formerly incarcerated people into homes that are potentially a better situation than halfway houses," Jenk explained. "The program pays their rent and gives them a laptop and a cellphone and guidance to help get started back in society." The program is run by Impact Justice and funded by Wells Fargo. Impact Justice says formerly incarcerated people are almost 10 times more likely to become homeless than the general population. And without the right support and resources, more than two-thirds of prisoners are rearrested within three years of their release. Johnson landed a job as a contractor within two months of joining the homecoming project. After six months, he moved out of Jenk's place and was looking for a home of his own. Since it started in August 2022, 100% of The Homecoming Project's more than 80 participants have successfully returned to their community and began rebuilding their lives, the organization said.

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


'Impactful and beautiful': how US homeless shelters are getting a radical redesign
2023-06-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jun/26/us-homeless-shelters-redesign

Family Village is not what many people may think of when they envision a homeless shelter: crowded, dingy, maybe dangerous. There are natural bamboo wood floors and walls painted in hues inspired by the ocean – seafoam green, gray and turquoise. Clients can use spacious, multipurpose rooms as they wish, and glass doors allow people to make an informed choice about whether they want to enter that space. The walls are curved, and there's a garden with vegetables and flowers. Severe stress can literally change the brain, affecting memory, coping skills and abilities to regulate emotions. Aware of just how much the physical environment can shape people's lives, more architects are starting to rethink how they design homeless shelters. The goal of trauma-informed design is to help people quiet the part of the brain that stays in survival mode when in a traditional shelter setting. Instead of feeling fearful and on high alert, they can focus on actions like applying for jobs and getting their children to school. The shelter can be what it's suited for: a short-term stopover where people can get back on their feet. A room constructed for family visits can reinforce a sense of community; a personal reading light can promote a sense of autonomy. Some of these discoveries come from ... people who have been residents of shelters. Facilitating effective design requires bringing people who have experienced homelessness and housing instability into the design conversation.

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


Revolutionary Music Therapy Helps Paralyzed Man Walk and Talk Again – It 'Unlocked the Brain'
2023-04-30, Good News Network
https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/music-therapy-helps-paralyzed-man-walk-and-ta...

A patient who was left almost completely paralyzed from a rare disease is now walking and talking again, after a music therapist prescribed mindful listening to his favorite song every night–in this case, a tune by The Carpenters. 71 year-old Ian Palmer was struck down with Guillain-Barr© syndrome last June, forcing him to spend seven months in a hospital where he was unable to walk or speak properly. The rare condition happens when a person's own immune system attacks their body's motor nerves, causing muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis. But when Ian was transferred to Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre, a state-of-the-art care unit in Lancashire, England, clinicians used music therapy techniques to overcome 'near total paralysis of his body'. His specialist, Clare, taught him mindfulness techniques using his favorite records–and he began listening to The Carpenters each night. Ian was admittedly skeptical, but he can now walk 2 miles a day (3k) and have conversations with his family after the exercises "opened up" his brain. He's never been very musical, so when Sue Ryder first suggested music therapy he said, 'What good is that going to do?' "I'm a typical Northern man, and I thought, 'What's a girl with a guitar going to do for me–get me to the gym.'" "But it really worked. Clare sat me down and explained the process. I learned that music is very unlike other therapies, as it opens up all of the brain."

Note: Watch a profoundly touching documentary about a man who takes on the broken healthcare system to demonstrate music's ability to heal, combat memory loss, and awaken the soul and the deepest parts of humanity. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


How a dose of MDMA transformed a white supremacist
2023-06-14, BBC News
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20230614-how-a-dose-of-mdma-transformed-a-...

Harriet de Wit, a professor of psychiatry and behavioural science at the University of Chicago, was running an experiment on whether the drug MDMA increased the pleasantness of social touch in healthy volunteers. Mike Bremmer, de Wit's research assistant, appeared at her office door with a concerned look on his face. A man named Brendan had filled out a standard questionnaire at the end. Strangely, at the very bottom of the form, Brendan had written in bold letters: "This experience has helped me sort out a debilitating personal issue. Google my name. I now know what I need to do." Brendan had been the leader of ... a notorious white nationalist group. "Go ask him what he means by 'I now know what I need to do,'" [de Wit] instructed Bremmer. As he clarified to Bremmer, love is what he had just realised he had to do. "Love is the most important thing," he told the baffled research assistant. "I conceived of my relationships with other people not as distinct boundaries with distinct entities, but more as we-are-all-one. I realised I'd been fixated on stuff that doesn't really matter. There are moments when I have racist or antisemitic thoughts ... But now I can recognise that those kinds of thought patterns are harming me more than anyone else." While MDMA cannot fix societal-level drivers of prejudice and disconnection, on an individual basis it can make a difference. In certain cases, the drug may even be able to help people see through the fog of discrimination and fear that divides so many of us.

Note: A case study about Brendan was published in the journal Biological Psychiatry. Read more on the healing potentials of psychedelic medicine, including science journalist Rachel Nuwer's new book, I Feel Love: MDMA and the Quest for Connection in a Fractured World. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Scientists Detect Brain Activity in Dying People Linked to Dreams, Hallucinations
2023-05-01, Vice
https://www.vice.com/en/article/dy3p3w/scientists-detect-brain-activity-in-dy...

Scientists have observed a surge of energetic activity in the brains of dying patients, a discovery that reveals that our brains can be active even as our hearts stop beating, reports a new study. The results challenge a longstanding assumption that brains become nonfunctional as they lose oxygen during cardiac arrest, and could eventually open a new window into the weird phenomena associated with near-death experiences (NDE). Jimo Borjigin, an associate professor of neurology at the University of Michigan, has been interested in these questions since she first observed surges of activity in the brains of dying rats. The surges consisted of gamma waves, the fastest oscillations in the brain, which are associated with conscious perceptions, lucid dreams, and hallucinations. Now, Borjigin and her colleagues have discovered similar gamma activity in the brains of patients who died in the hospital while they were monitored by electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors, which record neural activity. The findings could ... help explain near-death experiences, which the study described as "a biological paradox that challenges our fundamental understanding of the dying brain, which is widely believed to be nonfunctioning" during death. "The dying brain was thought to be inactive; our study showed otherwise," said Borjigin, the senior author of the study. "As far as I am concerned, our study may be as good as it will ever get for finding neural signatures of near-death consciousness."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles on near-death experiences.


Woodworking and Hugs: Inside the Mental Health Movement for Men
2023-06-12, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/mens-sheds-mental-health-woodworking-therapy/

In 2002, Chris Morgan lost his wife to cancer. A British army veteran who had put in 24 years of service as a gunner in the Royal Artillery, he was already struggling with PTSD when she passed away, and the grief from the loss triggered a breakdown. In despair, Morgan contemplated taking his own life. Instead, Morgan retreated to his shed. "It was my woodworking shed that was my safe place. And although I may not have done too much woodworking, it was just being in there that I knew helped," Morgan shared. "In fact, it saved my life." In 2008, he held an impromptu spoon carving class for a group of visiting wounded soldiers. The spontaneous seminar became a weekly workshop, and ultimately evolved into a dedicated permanent woodworking seminar that has been known as Veterans Woodcraft since 2016. Veterans Woodcraft is one of 3,000 so-called Men's Sheds scattered across the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, the US, Kenya and South Africa. The concept began in Australia in the 1990s to help tackle isolation and loneliness in predominantly older men. Men's Sheds UK chief officer Charlie Bethel ... says that of all the impacts he's seen from Men's Sheds in his five-year tenure, suicide prevention is the one that stands out the most. In a recent survey of 178 of the UK's 600 Men's Sheds, 25 percent of respondents said they had definitely saved a member's life, and 14 percent felt confident they had. Bethel hopes to set up a further 1,900 Men's Sheds across the UK over the next 10 years.

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Trafficking Victims Are Becoming Anti-Trafficking Warriors
2023-04-06, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/human-trafficking-victims-become-attorneys/

School for Justice empowers girls who have been victims of child trafficking by helping them attain degrees and jobs through which they can defend other trafficking victims. The school collaborates with local NGOs to identify trafficking survivors and helps them gain admission to universities to pursue law, social work and journalism degrees. Along the way, School for Justice provides the girls with an array of supports, and after completion of their studies, assists them in obtaining internships and jobs at law firms. "All the girls are very eager to pursue their education, especially law, and we give them all kinds of support for pursuing their studies and further internships and jobs," says Rishi Kant, one of the founders of Shaktivahini, the Delhi-based NGO that runs the program. Some become attorneys or paralegals, while others train to become police officers or journalists focused on human trafficking. Along the way, School for Justice helps them cover expenses for hostels, food, medical needs, traveling, internet charges and English communication classes. The program also runs trainings and workshops. Even as it works with trafficking victims specifically, the School for Justice is striving to ignite a broader conversation about the realities of child prostitution. "We should create awareness [among] not only girls, but also adolescent boys, about sex being a part of their life and to not treat it as a commodity available in the market," says Tapoti Bhowmick, senior program coordinator at the anti-trafficking NGO Sanlaap.

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