Inspirational News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Articles in Media
I live in a 420-square-foot studio. I sleep in a bed that folds down from the wall. I have six dress shirts. I have 10 shallow bowls that I use for salads and main dishes. When people come over for dinner, I pull out my extendable dining room table. I don’t have a single CD or DVD and I have 10 percent of the books I once did. I have come a long way from the life I had in the late ’90s, when ... I had a giant house crammed with stuff — electronics and cars and appliances and gadgets. Somehow this stuff ended up running my life, or a lot of it; the things I consumed ended up consuming me. We live in a world of surfeit stuff. There isn’t any indication that any of these things makes anyone any happier; in fact it seems the reverse may be true. In a study published last year titled “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century,” researchers at U.C.L.A. observed 32 middle-class Los Angeles families and found that all of the mothers’ stress hormones spiked during the time they spent dealing with their belongings. Our fondness for stuff affects almost every aspect of our lives. Housing size, for example, has ballooned in the last 60 years. The average size of a new American home in 1950 was 983 square feet; by 2011, the average new home was 2,480 square feet. And those figures don’t provide a full picture. In 1950, an average of 3.37 people lived in each American home; in 2011, that number had shrunk to 2.6 people. This means that we take up more than three times the amount of space per capita than we did 60 years ago. Intuitively, we know that the best stuff in life isn’t stuff at all, and that relationships, experiences and meaningful work are the staples of a happy life.
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
After doctors told cancer patient Zach Sobiech, 17, he only had a year to live, the Minnesota high school senior turned to music – and inspired millions. His emotional farewell song, "Clouds" was posted on YouTube ... and went viral with over [nine] million views and climbing, [and] created interest from music industry insiders. "I didn't make 'Clouds' to get famous," says Zach, who now has a songwriting contract from BMI, performed two concerts and just completed a new album titled Fix Me Up with his duo group A Firm Handshake, with singer and best friend Sammy Brown. "It's pretty crazy now … but it's worth it." Back in 2009, then-14-year-old Zach, the third of four children, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a kind of bone cancer. Despite countless surgeries and rounds of radiation, the cancer continued to spread. Last May, doctors gave a grim prognosis: Zach had up to a year to live. "We're approaching that year mark," says Zach, whose high school class graduates in June. "It's scary to think about, but the key is to not feel bad for yourself." Zach is using his remaining time and newfound fame to raise awareness and money for kids suffering from his rare form of cancer, teaming with the Children's Cancer Research Fund to launch the Zach Sobiech Osteosarcoma Fund. He's already raised almost $80,000 to help fund research into a cure. "My [type of] cancer hardly gets any funding," says Zach. "Our goal is to give other kids with osteosarcoma a chance." Though Zach has good days and bad, his mother says he's doing his best to live each day to its fullest.
Note: For a most beautiful and touching 22 minute video showing how Zach Sobiech faced his impending death by living life to its absolute fullest, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Jessica Cox was born without arms as a result of a rare birth defect. That has not stopped her from living her life to the fullest. In fact, Ms Cox has experienced and achieved more than most people do in a lifetime. She can drive a car, fly a plane and play piano - all with her feet. In 2012 she married Patrick, her former Taekwondo instructor (she has two black belts). They live in Tucson, Arizona. Ms Cox, 30, travels around the world as a motivational speaker, using her own life as an example of what one can achieve if one wants it enough. This month she visits Ethiopia to help promote disability rights.
Note: Don't miss the inspiring video on the BBC webpage. And for another incredibly inspiring man born without arms or feet, learn about Nick Vujicic at this link.
Sumant Kumar was overjoyed when he harvested his rice last year. Every stalk he cut on his paddy field near the bank of the Sakri river seemed to weigh heavier than usual, every grain of rice was bigger and when his crop was weighed on the old village scales, even Kumar was shocked. A shy young farmer in Nalanda district of India's poorest state Bihar, [Kumar] had – using only farmyard manure and without any herbicides – grown an astonishing 22.4 tonnes of rice on one hectare of land. This was a world record and with rice the staple food of more than half the world's population of seven billion, big news. It beat not just the 19.4 tonnes achieved by the "father of rice", the Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, but the World Bank-funded scientists at the International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines, and anything achieved by the biggest European and American seed and GM companies. And it was not just Sumant Kumar. Krishna, Nitish, Sanjay and Bijay, his friends and rivals in Darveshpura, all recorded over 17 tonnes, and many others in the villages around claimed to have more than doubled their usual yields. But the Bihar state agricultural universities didn't believe them at first, while India's leading rice scientists muttered about freak results. The Nalanda farmers were accused of cheating. Only when the state's head of agriculture, a rice farmer himself, came to the village with his own men and personally verified Sumant's crop, was the record confirmed.
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
On Valentine’s Day in Delhi, the pink band was ubiquitous, tied around arms, on wrists and foreheads, around necks and backpacks. Printed on it were the words “Enough! No More Violence Against Women.” 'On Thursday evening, as many set out for the customary Valentine’s Day dinner in the nation’s capital, several hundred men, women and children gathered at Parliament Street for an unorthodox celebration: a movement using music and dance to oppose violence against women. “We don’t want violence; we want love,” said Kamla Bhasin, the movement’s South Asia coordinator, to a cheering crowd of about 500 people. “We want a just love, a love based on equality.” In nearly 200 countries around the world, people took to the streets Thursday with a carnival spirit as part of One Billion Rising, a campaign initiated by Eve Ensler, the author of The Vagina Monologues, to highlight violence against women. In India, the message mirrored widespread public sentiment that has swelled after the gang rape and death of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in Delhi in December, bringing women’s rights and safety to the center stage of civic and political discourse. The campaign Thursday was a continuation of that fight. In recent months, young Indians have poured out in angry protests, condemning a police force that often exists for the preservation of power rather than the protection of people, and a political class that has routinely displayed apathy.
Organizers say [there are] thousands of events taking place in 205 countries [on Valentine's Day] as part of One Billion Rising, an international call led by Eve Ensler's V-Day organization to end violence against women and girls. Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, announced the campaign last year, urging women and men around the world to walk out of work or school on Feb. 14, 2013, and dance to raise awareness of the troubling U.N. statistic that one in three women worldwide will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. "It's happening, and what we're seeing is really huge uprisings," Ensler said ... in a telephone interview from Congo. "It's amazing because it goes from huge events like in Collins Square in London to six girls in a living room in Iran. That's what's so beautiful about it, like the whole world's doing it in the way they can do it." "The UN has officially endorsed it, and I think unprecedentedly they, at 12:30 today, stopped their work and had a rising at the UN," Ensler said. "The pressure of One Billion Rising is forcing these people to have to say they're going to do something about it," she said. Scheduled stateside events included flash mobs in San Francisco, a Zumba dance party with Jane Fonda in Los Angeles, a special program at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom featuring Rosario Dawson and Glenn Close, and a rally led by Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter Bernice A. King on the sunny streets of Atlanta. The outpouring of participation surpassed even Ensler's hopeful dreams.
Bhutan plans to become the first country in the world to turn its agriculture completely organic, banning the sales of pesticides and herbicides and relying on its own animals and farm waste for fertilisers. But rather than accept that this will mean farmers of the small Himalayan kingdom of around 1.2m people ... will be able to grow less food, the government expects them to be able to grow more – and to export increasing amounts of high quality niche foods to neighbouring India, China and other countries. The decision to go organic was both practical and philosophical, said [Pema Gyamtsho, Bhutan's minister of agriculture and forests]. "Ours is a mountainous terrain. When we use chemicals they don't stay where we use them, they impact the water and plants. We say that we need to consider all the environment. Most of our farm practices are traditional farming, so we are largely organic anyway. But we are Buddhists, too, and we believe in living in harmony with nature. Animals have the right to live, we like to to see plants happy and insects happy," he said. Gyamtsho, like most members of the cabinet, is a farmer himself, coming from Bumthang in central Bhutan but studying western farming methods in New Zealand and Switzerland. "Going organic will take time," he said. "We have set no deadline. We cannot do it tomorrow. Instead we will achieve it region by region and crop by crop." Gyamtsho [says] Bhutan's future depends largely on how it responds to interlinked development challenges like climate change, and food and energy security.
Note: Bhutan is also the country which has pioneered Gross National Happiness (GNH) as a more appropriate measure of economic growth than GNP. For more on this, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
The European Parliament has voted for sweeping reforms of the controversial EU Common Fisheries Policy [CFP]. The package includes measures to protect endangered stocks and end discards - the practice of throwing unwanted dead fish into the sea. Wasteful discards are reckoned to account for a quarter of total catches under the current quota system. With an estimated 75% of Europe’s stocks overfished, there has been enormous public and media pressure over this latest attempt to shake up the CFP. The BBC's environment analyst Roger Harrabin says the vote is something of a victory for citizen power, following organised lobbying of MEPs by ordinary people, as well as by high-profile celebrity chefs and environmentalists. The reform package was presented to the full parliament in Strasbourg by the German Social Democrat MEP Ulrike Rodust. She said the reforms “will bring an end to the December ritual of fisheries ministers negotiating until 4am, neglecting scientific advice and setting too high fishing quotas. “As of 2015, the principle of maximum sustainable yield shall apply, which means that each year we do not harvest more fish than a stock can reproduce. Our objective is that depleted fish stocks recover by 2020. Not only nature will benefit, but also fishermen: bigger stocks produce higher yields.” MEPs have made some tough choices. For instance, they had an option to vote for maximum sustainable yield - that is taking as much fish as the sea can reproduce annually. They demanded instead that fisheries should be allowed to grow, rather than to stay at their current depleted level.
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
One of the world’s top physicians, Dr. Eric Topol, has a prescription that could improve your family’s health and make medical care cheaper – the smartphone. Topol has long been one of the world’s foremost cardiologists. He has now become the foremost expert in the exploding field of wireless medicine, and this explosion, he says, is about to make our health care better and cheaper. He shows how simply his modified iphone produces a cardiogram for a patient. The device was approved by the FDA in December and is now sold to physicians for $199. Topol tells his patient he just saved a $100 technician’s fee. [Topol:] These days i’m actually prescribing a lot more apps than I am medications. You can take the phone and make it a lab on a chip -- you can do blood tests, saliva tests, urine tests, all kinds of things. Actually I think it helps make the whole interaction much more intimate, because now I’m sharing the results in realtime. There’s so much technology now that we could — by using digital [infra]structure that exists today -- make the office visit an enjoyable thing. [Topol] had a reputation for brashness. He questioned the safety of the hugely profitable pain killer Vioxx and eventually forced it off the market.
Note: To see the full text of this inspiring video, click here.
Peer-to-peer lending most immediately brings to mind the largely feel-good act of extending small-time money to small businesses and individuals with quirky projects—a curiosity at best and no threat to the lending hegemony of big banks. What’s less appreciated is how successful peer-to-peer lending platforms such as Prosper and Lending Club have been in connecting wholesale numbers of individual lenders and borrowers. Renaud Laplanche is the founder and chief executive officer of Lending Club, which has been at least doubling its loan originations every year since it started in June 2007 at the onset of the financial crisis. He says he came up with the idea when he realized he was paying 18 percent on his credit-card debt while the issuing bank was paying out 2 percent to depositors. Lending Club mitigates risk—its default rate has remained in the low single digits throughout the financial crisis—by serving prime and superprime borrowers and turning down 90 percent of loan applications. Prosper, perhaps Lending Club’s main rival, has similarly posted nice risk-adjusted returns across its loan portfolio. Its management and board are studded with venture capitalists and Wall Street names. The value proposition to borrowers, obviously, is access not just to capital that the banks aren’t willing to lend them, but capital at a lower cost should they make the grade.
It was a mind-blowing political tableau: a co-founder of liberal bulwark MoveOn sitting in her Berkeley living room, laughing, sharing homemade blueberry scones and occasionally agreeing with a national Tea Party figure. MoveOn's Joan Blades ... and Mark Meckler, ... have been talking online and over the phone for a few years now. Quietly, until now. "Transpartisanship" is the genteel word for what they're doing. Blades has been involved in similar types of projects for about a decade, but this is a fairly new school of political thought, which posits that people can come together to find some common ground without abandoning their core beliefs. The occasion was the latest installment of Living Room Conversations, Blades' latest national transpartisan project that she co-founded with former GOP operative Amanda Kathryn Roman [of] New Jersey. It involves one or two co-hosts pulling together an intimate gathering of folks who might believe they agree on little politically - until they sit down together to listen to one another's perspective. Civilly. Eventually, they find places they agree. That's what happened between Blades and Meckler, and it should give hope to a nation locked in scrums over guns and immigration and taxes. The day's assigned topic was "crony capitalism." It was conservative commentator Ralph Benko who introduced Meckler and Blades online. As Meckler recalled Benko saying, "If MoveOn and the Tea Party ever agree on anything, all politicians should watch out."
Note: What would happen if we focus less on what separates us and more on what brings us together?
Women are not allowed to drive and cannot yet vote in Saudi Arabia, but on [January 11] they were given a voice in an advisory council that debates the kingdom’s legislation. The Saudi king, Abdullah, issued a decree that for the first time gave women seats on the Shura council, an assembly whose members are appointed to discuss laws and other issues and advise the king, but that has no legislative power. The decree ... gave women 30 of the 150 seats on the council with all the duties of their male counterparts. The decision was met with a mixture of optimism that the country was inching forward with reforms and skepticism from activists who are pushing for greater freedom for women in the conservative kingdom, one of the world’s few remaining absolute monarchies. In a decree in 2011, King Abdullah granted women the right to vote and run in municipal elections scheduled for 2015, the biggest change in a decade for women in the puritanical kingdom. He also promised to name women to the Shura council at that time. But Saudi women still cannot make ordinary decisions, like marrying or traveling abroad, without written permission from a legal male guardian, “effectively treating her as a minor all her life,” [a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia, Manal al-Sharif,] wrote in a separate statement on the Web site of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights. Women also continued to be arrested for driving. In one case in 2011, a woman was sentenced to 10 lashes for violating the ban. The king later revoked the sentence.
Note: Why is there so little national or international pressure on Saudi Arabia to promote gender equality, or democracy for that matter? Could it be that their huge wealth buys sways the political will of nations around the world? How sad.
Jeffrey Wright is well known around his high school in Louisville, Ky., for his antics as a physics teacher. But it is a simple lecture — one without props or fireballs — that leaves the greatest impression on his students each year. The talk is about Mr. Wright’s son and the meaning of life, love and family. Each year, Mr. Wright gives a lecture on his experiences as a parent of a child with special needs. His son, Adam, now 12, has a rare disorder called Joubert syndrome, in which the part of the brain related to balance and movement fails to develop properly. Visually impaired and unable to control his movements, Adam breathes rapidly and doesn’t speak. Mr. Wright ... recalls the day Adam was born, and the sadness he felt when he learned of his condition. “The whole thing about where the universe came from? I didn’t care. I started asking myself, what was the point of it?” All that changed one day when Mr. Wright ... realized that his son could see and play — that the little boy had an inner life. He and his wife, Nancy, began teaching Adam simple sign language. One day, his son signed “I love you.” “There is something a lot greater than energy. There’s something a lot greater than entropy. What’s the greatest thing?” “Love,” his students whisper. “That’s what makes the ‘why’ we exist,” Mr. Wright tells the spellbound students.
Note: Watch this beautiful, 12-minute video on Mr. Wright's Law of Love. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
At UC Berkeley ... a group of researchers thinks about gratitude year-round. Formed in 2001, the Greater Good Science Center is dedicated to unpacking the neuroscience and sociology behind traits such as altruism, compassion and empathy. The goal is not only to understand how gratitude works, but also to build a healthier, kinder society, said Dacher Keltner, the center's faculty director and a UC Berkeley psychology professor. "The U.S. underperforms in terms of the well-being of children, the well-being of adults and the physical health of children and adults," he said. "We also have one of the most individualistic, self-focused societies in human history. And I put those two facts together." Thanks to a $3.1 million grant recently awarded by the center, 14 researchers nationwide are studying various aspects of gratitude, from its role in initiating friendships to its effects on children's socializing. The grant is part of a three-year project, Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude, in collaboration with UC Davis. And last month, the center launched Thnx4.org, an online journal where visitors explain what they're thankful for and researchers analyze their responses to understand gratitude's influence.
Note: For deeply inspiring reports from major media sources, click here.
When Joshua Williams was 5 years old, his grandmother gave him $20 to spend on whatever he wanted. "My mom and I were in the car on the way to church, and I was thinking about all the fun things I could buy," he says. But then, while waiting at a red light, he looked out the window and saw a homeless man begging for money. Joshua leaned forward and said he wanted to give the man the $20 so he could get a meal. "I suggested that we go buy the man some food," says his mom, Claudia McLean. "But Joshua pointed out, 'What if he doesn't like what we get him?' From that moment on, he was pestering me about how we could help more people." Soon, the family began cooking meals every Saturday to distribute to the homeless. Still, says Joshua, 11, "we only had so much food, and I knew people were still hungry." In 2007, Joshua and his mom established Joshua's Heart Foundation, which has since given away 400,000 pounds of food through a variety of initiatives. But the foundation's backpack program, which discreetly issues food-filled packs to needy schoolchildren before weekends, is closest to the seventh grader's heart. "When kids don't have to worry whether they'll have dinner that night, they can concentrate better, do better in school," he says. The program benefits 50 kids in two Miami-area schools, but Joshua hopes to expand it via corporate donations (Walmart has given $20,000). The foundation now has 700 volunteers, plus a Junior Advisory Board over which he presides. "When I look at the faces of the people we're helping and see how happy they are, that's my favorite moment," he says.
Note: For an inspiring article on how Howard Buffett (son of billionaire Warren Buffett) is doing incredible work to end hunger worldwide, click here. For deeply inspiring reports from major media sources, click here
A tourist's snapshot of a New York City police officer giving new boots to a barefoot homeless man in Times Square has created an online sensation. Jennifer Foster, of Florence, Ariz., was visiting New York with her boyfriend on Nov. 14, when she came across the shoeless man asking for change in Times Square. As she was about to approach him, she said the officer — identified as Larry DePrimo — came up to the man with a pair of all-weather boots and thermal socks on the frigid night. She recorded his generosity on her cellphone. DePrimo ... remembered the night clearly, that even with two pairs of socks on, his feet were freezing. The homeless man "didn't even have a pair of socks on and I could only imagine how cold that pavement was," the 25-year-old said. The photo shows the officer kneeling beside the man with the boots at his feet. "I have these size 12 boots for you, they are all-weather. Let's put them on and take care of you," Foster quoted DePrimo as saying to the man. She wrote: "The officer squatted down on the ground and proceeded to put socks and the new boots on this man. The officer expected NOTHING in return and did not know I was watching." DePrimo said buying the boots "was something I had to do." He tried to persuade the man to get something to eat, but he declined and left. "When I brought out the shoes, it was just a smile from ear to ear," he said. "It was a great moment for both of us."
Note: You can see the inspiring photo at the link above. For lots of deeply inspiring stories from major media sources, click here.
What makes a Nobel Prize winner? There's several suggested factors: Perseverance? Good luck? Good mentors and students? Here’s one possible factor that I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams; chocolate consumption. Chocolate consumption tracks well with the number of Nobel Laureates produced by a country. At least that's what a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine - one of the world’s premier journals of medical research - claims. The paper starts by assuming ... that winning a Nobel Prize must somehow be related to cognitive ability. It then goes on to describe a link between flavanols - organic molecules found among other foods in chocolate, green tea and red wine - and cognitive ability. From this idea the author basically jumps to the dubious and frankly bizarre question of whether chocolate consumption could possibly account for Nobel Prize winning ability. The hypothesis is testable, so the author decides to simply plot the number of Nobel prize winners per 10 million people in different countries counted from 1900-2011 vs the chocolate consumption in those countries. A plot of chocolate consumption vs number of Nobel Prizes reveals a strong correlation of 0.79. The most likely explanation for that correlation is that it's caused by a third factor.
When Kelvin Doe, a then-13-year-old from Sierra Leone, saw that off-the-shelf batteries were too expensive for the inventions he was working on, he made his own at home. Kelvin did not have the privilege to do his project in a school environment. Rather, he was compelled to act by necessity and for the joy of solving practical problems. Kelvin combined acid, soda, and metal, dumped those ingredients in a tin cup, waited for the mixture to dry and wrapped tape around the cup to make his first battery. He hasn’t purchased a battery since. Next up: A generator. Kelvin made one of those by hacking an old rusty voltage stabilizer he found in a dustbin. In addition to providing electricity to his home, where neighbors come to charge their mobile phone batteries, the generator powers Kelvin’s homemade FM radio station, fully equipped with a custom music mixer, recycled CD player and antenna that allow his whole neighborhood to tune in. Now 16, Kelvin has expanded operations: he employs his friends as reporters and station managers, tasking them to interview spectators at local soccer games and keep the calendar of requests for his DJ services at parties and events. The average age of his crew is 12. Kelvin ... was at the 2012 World Maker Faire held in New York at the end of September. He was invited to participate in a “Meet the Young Makers” panel with four other amazing young makers from America. He is the youngest person in history to be invited to the “Visiting Practitioner’s Program” at MIT, and he presented his inventions to undergraduate students at Harvard College and MIT.
Note: For a popular video on this amazing, young genius from Africa, click here.
In his Nashville Christian church, Timothy Kurek was taught the lesson of God's wrath in the Biblical story of "Sodom and Gomorrah," and he believed that homosexuality was a sin. But about four years ago, when a lesbian he knew from karaoke night confided to him that her parents had disowned her when she came out, Kurek felt that he failed her. He wondered what it felt like to be gay and so alone. So even though Kurek identifies as straight, he embarked on what one religious writer called "spiritual espionage." He would live like a gay man for a year. Now 26 and no longer homophobic, Kurek writes about his journey -- one that included hanging out in gay bars and facing the disappointment of his family and rejection of his friends -- in his memoir, The Cross in the Closet. Only three people knew the truth, and he needed them to carry out his audacious project: his closest friend, an aunt and Shawn, a gay friend whom Kurek also met at karaoke night. Kind-hearted Shawn, whom Kurek described as "a big black burly teddy bear," became his "pretend boyfriend." But most of all, Shawn was the "first gay person that I let into my heart," said Kurek. "He was totally there for me through emotional turmoil ... I trusted him." Rev. Connie Waters, a protestant minister and LGBT ally from Memphis ... said she was "proud" of him. "The transformation in him was life-changing," she said. "It's what you hope for -- the goal of the Christian walk of faith. It's enough for me that he transformed, but if others learn from him, what an extra blessing that is."
Note: For more on this amazing story, click here.
For seven years now, a growing number of General Mills workers have been practising meditation, yoga and so-called “mindfulness” in the workplace. And what began as a side project by one executive has transformed the culture of a Fortune 200 multinational. “It’s about training our minds to be more focused, to see with clarity, to have spaciousness for creativity and to feel connected,” says Janice Marturano, General Mills’ deputy general counsel, who founded the programme. “That compassion to ourselves, to everyone around us – our colleagues, customers – that’s what the training of mindfulness is really about.” The General Mills initiative is at the vanguard of a movement that is quietly reshaping certain corners of the corporate world. With meditation, yoga and “mindfulness”, the foundational tenets of Buddhism, Hinduism and other pan-Asian philosophies have infiltrated the upper echelons of some of the biggest companies on earth. William George, a current Goldman Sachs board member and a former chief executive of the healthcare giant Medtronic, ... is one of the main advocates for bringing meditation into corporate life. “The main business case for meditation is that if you’re fully present on the job, you will be more effective as a leader, you will make better decisions and you will work better with other people,” he [says]. Though the combination of mysticism and capitalism may seem incongruous, this interplay has found fertile ground at some of the best-known companies in the US and Europe. It is happening at Target, Google and First Direct, among others. Today, in organisations large and small, eastern wisdom is changing western business.
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