Inspirational News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Inspirational News Articles in Media
Dr. Frank Artress looked down at his fingers. His nail beds were turning blue. He was running out of oxygen near the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. A cardiac anesthesiologist, Artress knew the signs of high altitude pulmonary edema. He knew there was a 75 percent chance that he would perish on Africa's highest peak. Artress led his wife to a rock, and they sat together above the clouds. Then it hit him. He wasn't afraid to die; he was ashamed. He had lived only for himself - practicing medicine in a Modesto hospital, traveling with his wife, purchasing luxury vacation homes and collecting art. He felt as if he had nothing to show for his 50 years. He felt as if his life had been a waste. In that moment, Artress and his wife realized they were living for the wrong reasons. In that moment, everything changed. Some people dream of giving up the trappings of success and starting life anew, with a purpose, with a social conscience. For Artress and his wife, the idea suddenly seemed real. That day on Mount Kilimanjaro would lead the Modesto doctor and his wife to leave their comfortable life in California to become bush doctors, dedicated to easing the heartbreak of Africa. They knew their decision was the right one when they returned to their creekside ranch home in Modesto. The things they normally missed when they were away - the matching silver sports cars, the signed Mirós and Picassos, the full-throttle espresso machine and the swimming pool - no longer had any charm. That week, Artress quit his job at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto and Gustafson gave notice as an educational psychologist for the public schools. Then they sold everything ... and made plans to return to the foot of Kilimanjaro to administer medical care as a way of repaying the community that saved Artress' life.
Note: This inspiring story should be read in its entirety.
The Earth is humming. Singing. Its song is ethereal and mystifying and very, very weird – a rather astonishing, newly discovered phenomen[on] that's not easily analyzed, but which, if you really let it sink into your consciousness, can change the way you look at everything. Scientists now say the planet itself is generating a constant, deep thrum of noise. No mere cacophony, but actually a kind of music – huge, swirling loops of sound, a song so ... low it can't be heard by human ears, [roars] churning from the very water and wind and rock themselves, countless notes of varying vibration creating all sorts of curious tonal phrases that bounce around the mountains and spin over the oceans and penetrate the tectonic plates and gurgle in the magma and careen off the clouds and smack into trees and bounce off your ribcage and spin over the surface of the planet in strange circular loops. It all makes for a very quiet, otherworldly symphony so odd and mysterious, scientists still can't figure out exactly what's causing it or why [it's] happening. Sure, sensitive instruments are getting better at picking up what's been dubbed "Earth's hum," but no one's any closer to understanding what ... it all might mean. Mystics and poets and theorists have pondered the "music of the spheres" (or musica universalis) for eons; it is the stuff of cosmic philosophy, linking sacred geometry, mathematics, cosmology, harmonics, astrology and music into one big cosmological poetry slam.
Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner. But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn. He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife. "He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, 'Here you go,'" Diaz says. As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, "Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you're going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm." The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, "like what's going on here?" Diaz says. "He asked me, 'Why are you doing this?'" Diaz replied: " ' If you're willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you ... want to join me ... hey, you're more than welcome.' You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help," Diaz says. Diaz says he and the teen went into the diner and sat in a booth. Diaz asked him what he wanted out of life. "He just had ... a sad face," Diaz says. The teen couldn't answer Diaz — or he didn't want to. When the bill arrived, Diaz told the teen, "Look, I guess you're going to have to pay for this bill 'cause you have my money and I can't pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I'll gladly treat you." The teen "didn't even think about it" and returned the wallet, Diaz says. "I gave him $20 ... I figure maybe it'll help him. I don't know." Diaz says he asked for something in return — the teen's knife — "and he gave it to me."
Note: For many powerful inspirational stories from major media sources, click here.
Over the past 25 years nonviolent peacekeepers have been going into zones of sometimes intense conflict with the aim of bringing a measure of peace, protection, and sanity to life there. Rather than use threat or force, unarmed peacekeepers deploy strategies of protective accompaniment, moral and/or witnessing "presence," monitoring election campaigns, creating neutral safe spaces, and in extreme cases putting themselves physically between hostile parties. Civilian unarmed peacekeeping has had dramatic, small-scale, quiet, and unglamorous successes: rescuing child soldiers, protecting the lives of key human rights workers and of whole villages, averting potentially explosive violence, and generally raising the level of security felt by citizens in many a tense community. Recently a village on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines was under threat by two armed groups who had come within 200 meters of each other. The village elders called for help from the Nonviolent Peaceforce stationed there, who intervened and by communicating with all sides persuaded the armed group to back away. Thanks to mediation, no violence erupted, no lives were lost. Why haven't you heard about this exciting work? Because it is terribly underfunded, for one thing. There is also a prevailing prejudice that only governments or armed forces – including those of the United Nations – have the responsibility or means to contain conflict. But the biggest obstacle by far is the widespread – and rarely examined – belief that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. It is the belief that there is only one kind of power; threat power, which in the end can be relied upon to get others to change their minds or, failing that, at least their actions. That may change. The new global norm of "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P) should inspire the use of civil society and nonviolent means.
Like the ancient wonders of Stonehenge or the Great Pyramids of Egypt, there is an incredible and mysterious creation right here in the United States. Coral Castle, in Homestead, Fla., just south of Miami, is an intricate rock garden made of enormous pieces of coral, many of them weighing several tons. But more amazingly, Coral Castle was built entirely by one man -- Latvian immigrant Ed Leedskalnin, who stood just 5 feet tall and weighed 100 pounds. To this day, no one knows how he did it. The castle is an extraordinary feat of engineering, and experts have puzzled over how Leedskalnin, who only had a fourth-grade education, constructed Coral Castle by himself. For example, how did this little man build a 9-ton coral gate constructed so precisely that you can push it open using one finger? There are many theories on how Leedskalnin accomplished this amazing feat. Some say he had help from extraterrestrials, others believe he discovered the secrets behind anti-gravity and levitation. Leedskalnin was a self-taught expert on magnetic currents, and one theory holds that he positioned the site to be perfectly aligned with Earth's poles to eliminate the forces of gravity, allowing him to move stones weighing several tons each. Even Albert Einstein couldn't figure it out.
Note: For a good video of this wonder, click here. For more information on this most intriguing phenomenon, click here. The unusual builder of this site claimed to know the secrets of the pyramids and even Einstein could not imagine how he did it.
IBM Corp., Nokia, Sony and Pitney Bowes are expected to announce Monday that they have put 31 inventions into an "Eco-Patent Commons" designed to make these Earth-friendly manufacturing and waste-reduction processes more widely available. "This is an open source effort along the lines of the Creative Commons," said IBM assistant general counsel David Kappos, who is responsible for the company's intellectual property. The open source movement, symbolized by the free Linux operating system, believes that innovation occurs more quickly when new ideas and processes are open to the public for anyone to troubleshoot and improve. The Eco-Patent Commons adopts this activist tactic in certain fields - like waste reduction - where the participating firms have decided that the societal benefit of having every willing manufacturer adopt these cleaner processes outweighs any potential advantage they might gain by keeping the idea close to the vest. One of the newly freed eco-patents is an IBM invention for using a specially folded piece of corrugated cardboard to cushion electronic components against shock during shipping - replacing the Styrofoam products that can easily become an environmental headache. Likewise, Nokia is giving away a patent designed to help safely dispose of mobile phones by reusing their components in other gadgets such as digital cameras. Kappos said the Eco-Patent Commons would be run by an independent, nonprofit group, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and expressed hope that other companies would follow the lead and add real clout to what is more a symbolic than substantive effort to make global business a little greener.
Berkeley's on YouTube. American University's hoping to get on iTunes. George Mason professors have created an online research tool, a virtual filing cabinet for scholars. And with a few clicks on Yale's Web site, anyone can watch one of the school's most popular philosophy professors sitting cross-legged on his desk, talking about death. Studying on YouTube won't get you a college degree, but many universities are using technology to offer online classes and open up archives. Sure, some schools have been charging for distance-learning classes for a long time, but this is different: These classes are free. At a time when many top schools are expensive and difficult to get into, some say it's a return to the broader mission of higher education: to offer knowledge to everyone. And tens of millions are reaching for it. For schools, the courses can bring benefits, luring applicants, spreading the university's name, impressing donors, keeping alumni engaged. As the technology evolves, the classes are becoming far more engaging to a broader public. With better, faster technology such as video, what once was bare-bones and hard-core -- lecture notes aimed at grad students and colleagues -- is now more ambitious and far more accessible. Some professors try this on their own, on a small scale. Schools are feeling their way, experimenting with different technologies; some use Utah State University's eduCommons on the Web; some post to free sites such as YouTube and the Apple university site iTunes U. Other schools have plunged right in: MIT has 1,800 classes online, virtually the entire curriculum free and open to all. "The idea was to have a broad impact on education worldwide and make a statement at a time when many schools were launching for-profit distance-learning ventures," Steve Carson of MIT OpenCourseWare said, "trying to redefine the role of the institution in the digital age."
Americans set a new record for generosity last year. We gave a total of nearly $300 billion. But few of us could match the generosity of Richard Semmler. Semmler is a 61-year-old math professor at Northern Virginia Community College. He's also a maintenance man, and a book editor. His hard work earns him more than $100,000 per year, but he lives very modestly. Even with three jobs, Semmler lives in a tiny apartment. He's not working so hard to get more -- he's working to give more. Semmler has donated nearly $1 million -- between 50 percent and 60 percent of his income each year -- to six charities, and his money helps to feed the homeless and build houses for families in need. Semmler's not just writing checks -- he's getting his hands dirty, building those homes with Habitat for Humanity, and handing out food in soup kitchens. "I prefer to live in a small apartment. I prefer to drive an old car," he said. "I get a lot of satisfaction out of that. I get a chance to see my dollars at work. For me, it's a personal satisfaction in seeing the house built, but more important, it's personal satisfaction in seeing a family that truly needs this," said Semmler. [He] belongs to a very exclusive club that anyone can join. It's called the Fifty Percent League. Members give away at least half their income to charity. Not all of the donors have big incomes. One woman earned just $16,000 dollars last year, and gave half of it away to help newly arrived immigrants. The group is made up of about 100 people and growing. Collectively, they have given away more than $1 billion over the past decade. Millionaire David Ludlow is a fifty-percenter, who funds an after-school program in Boston's inner city. "This has made me a truly happy man, being able to do this. It's been magnificent. It's totally turned my life around," Ludlow said.
Note: One of the wonderful people featured in this article, David Ludlow, is a major supporter of our work in the form of a large monthly donation (http://www.peerservice.org/donations#monthly). This is a powerful example of how one inspired individual can make a big difference in the world. Let us all do our best to use our money in support of personal and global transformation to the best of our ability. We invite you also to make a difference by donating to support our empowering work at http://www.peerservice.org/donations. For two inspiring media clips of David and this great organization, click here and here.
Susan Dahl had spent four months homeless in Colorado and just been on a harrowing 10-hour bus trip through sleet and snow. Hungry and broke, all she wanted to do was get back to family in Minnesota. That's when a tall man in a red coat and red hat sat next to her at the downtown bus station, talked to her quietly and then slipped her $100 on that recent December afternoon. The man was doing the work of Larry Stewart, Kansas City's original Secret Santa who anonymously wandered city streets doling out $100 bills to anyone who looked like they needed it. Stewart died of cancer at age 58 earlier this year, but his legacy lives on. "He said 'Here's a $100 bill ... and this is in memory of Larry Stewart,'" said Dahl, 56. During about a quarter century, Stewart quietly gave out more than $1.3 million to people in laundromats, diners, bus stations, shelters and thrift stores, saying it was his way of giving back at Christmas for all the wealth and generosity he had received in his lifetime. For years, Stewart did not want his name known or want thanks or applause, but last December he acknowledged who he was and used his last few months while battling cancer to press his message of kindness toward others. He even trained some friends in the ways of Secret Santa. This Christmas, a friend who told Stewart in the hospital that he would carry on for him is out on the streets, handing out $100 bills, each one stamped with "Larry Stewart, Secret Santa." Between Kansas City and several other cities this Christmas, the new Secret Santa will give away $75,000 of his own money, mostly in $100 bills. "I didn't want to be a Secret Santa," said the man, a business consultant who lives in the Kansas City area. "I wanted to give Larry money. But last year, he said I had to hand it out myself. So I did, and I got hooked. Anyone can be a Secret Santa," he says. "You don't have to give away $100. You can give away kindness. Help someone."
Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor, was about to give a lecture Tuesday afternoon, but before he said a word, he received a standing ovation from 400 students and colleagues. They had come to see him give what was billed as his "last lecture." This is a common title for talks on college campuses today. At Carnegie Mellon, however, Dr. Pausch's speech was more than just an academic exercise. The 46-year-old father of three has pancreatic cancer and expects to live for just a few months. His lecture ... turned out to be a rollicking and riveting journey through the lessons of his life. Flashing his rejection letters on the screen, he talked about setbacks in his career, repeating: "Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things." He encouraged us to be patient with others. "Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you." While displaying photos of his bosses and students over the years, he said that helping others fulfill their dreams is even more fun than achieving your own. He also saluted his parents, who let him make his childhood bedroom his domain, even if his wall etchings hurt the home's resale value. "If your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let 'em do it." Considered one of the nation's foremost teachers of videogame and virtual-reality technology, he helped develop "Alice," a Carnegie Mellon software project that allows people to easily create 3-D animations. "Like Moses, I get to see the Promised Land, but I don't get to step foot in it," Dr. Pausch said. "That's OK. I will live on in Alice." Many people have given last speeches without realizing it. The day before he was killed, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke prophetically: "Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place." He talked of how he had seen the Promised Land, even though "I may not get there with you."
Note: For more on this amazing lecture and links to view it, see the New York Times blog available here.
“Coast to Coast AM” is an overnight radio show devoted to what its weekday host, George Noory, calls “the unusual mysteries of the world and the universe.” “Coast to Coast AM” is by far the highest-rated radio program in the country once the lights go out. “My motto tonight,” Noory intoned at the beginning of [a] program, “is be prepared, not scared.” What followed was a graphic recitation of disaster scenarios for 2012, including hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions caused by solar storms, ... and mass extinctions brought on by nuclear winter. For Christians awaiting rapture or Shiites counting the days until the Twelfth Imam appears, the trials and injustices of the known world are a prelude for the paradise that we can imagine but can’t yet achieve. Judging by the sheer number of predicted end dates that have come and gone without the trumpets blowing and angels rushing in, we are a people impatient to see our world redeemed through catastrophe. Gnostics predicted the imminent arrival of God’s kingdom as early as the first century; Christians in Europe [were prepared] for the end of the world at the first millennium; the Shakers believed the world would end in 1792. The Jehovah’s Witnesses have been especially prodigious with prophetic end dates: 1914, 1915, 1918, 1920, 1925, 1941, 1975 and 1994. End dates are not the stuff of fantasy, after all; each and every one of us has a terminal appointment inscribed in our calendars. Perhaps that is why we need to imagine a supernatural force with one eye on a ticking clock, waiting to make everything new again.
Note: Could the desire for apocalypse represent a deep dissatisfaction with both ourselves and the world around us? Don't be surprised if after 2012 a new date of apocalypse eventually comes in vogue again. Could it be that when we open to accepting things as they are, we begin to experience more of paradise in our lives here and now? Coast to Coast tends to focus on the sensational, yet it is one of the few programs reporting deep cover-ups that no other media will touch.
What Ray Anderson calls his “conversion experience” occurred in the summer of 1994, when he was asked to give the sales force at Interface, the carpet tile company he founded, some talking points about the company’s approach to the environment. So he started reading about environmental issues, and thinking about them, until pretty soon it hit him: “I was running a company that was plundering the earth,” he realized. “I thought, ‘Damn, some day people like me will be put in jail!’” He devoted his speech to his newfound vision of polluted air, overflowing landfills, depleted aquifers and used-up resources. Only one institution was powerful enough and pervasive enough to turn these problems around, he told his colleagues, and it was the institution that was causing them in the first place: “Business. Industry. People like us. Us!" He challenged his colleagues to set a deadline for Interface to become a “restorative enterprise,” a sustainable operation that takes nothing out of the earth that cannot be recycled or quickly regenerated, and that does no harm to the biosphere. The deadline they ultimately set is 2020, and the idea has taken hold throughout the company. Mr. Anderson said that through waste reduction, recycling, energy efficiency and other steps, Interface was “about 45 percent from where we were to where we want to be.” Use of fossil fuels is down 45 percent ... he said, while sales are up 49 percent. Globally, the company’s carpet-making uses one-third the water it used to. The company’s worldwide contribution to landfills has been cut by 80 percent. And in the process, Mr. Anderson has turned into perhaps the leading corporate evangelist for sustainability.
This dream house is the love child of artist-builder Jay Shafer, who lovingly hand-crafted it. The stainless-steel kitchen, gleaming next to the natural wood interior, is outfitted with customized storage and built-ins. But in an era when bigger is taken as a synonym for better, calling Shafer's home a dream house might strike some as an oxymoron. Why? The entire house, including sleeping loft, measures only 96 square feet -- smaller than many people's bathrooms. Shafer ... began his love affair with diminutive dwellings about 10 years ago. "I was living in an average-sized apartment and I realized I just didn't need so much space," he said. After a friend asked him to build a house for him to live in, Shafer launched Tumbleweed Tiny House Co. in 2000. The friend went on to become the president of the Small House Society -- and thus was written one more episode of the small-is-beautiful movement. Shafer began building and designing little houses for people who wanted them as backyard retreats, second homes or primary residences. Over the years, he has built and sold 10 homes and dozens of house plans, which cost about $1,000. But the real story is that he's become a poster boy for simple living, with interviews or mentions in ... the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and, last February, even on "Oprah." "Our society's been based on excess for so long, it's still a somewhat novel idea to live simply," he said. His next dream is to create a little community of small houses, with a half-dozen or more connected by walking paths on a small piece of land.
Ryan Mickle's life was the stuff young bourgeois dreams are made of. Then a year ago ... Mickle began to take stock of his life. He was earning a lot of money but was giving very little of himself. So Mickle ditched his high-paying job to brainstorm a new venture with friend Rod Ebrahimi. The result was Dotherightthing.com, a San Francisco startup that allows users to rank companies based on their social impact on the world. Their site [allows] consumers to influence corporate behavior. The sentiment is summed up in Dotherightthing.com's T-shirt slogan: "It's cool to care." Mickle, 26, and Ebrahimi, 25, are among a growing number of entrepreneurs betting they can build ventures that deliver both financial and social returns. EBay founder Pierre Omidyar has dedicated much of his fortune to helping for-profits and nonprofits alike discover their power to do good. At www.freepledge.com, shoppers buy the same products from the same merchants for the same price, but a percentage is donated to the nonprofit of their choice. Darian Hickman, 28, is designing an online strategy game that turns the players into entrepreneurs who help bring prosperity to impoverished villages in underdeveloped countries. [He was] inspired by Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel prize-winning micro-finance pioneer. Premal Shah [is a] former PayPal executive who is president of online micro-lender Kiva.org. Brian Johnson, 32 ... said he felt uncomfortable with capitalism until he hit on the concept of "using economics as a force for good. How do we live our spiritual ideals and make money?" Now Johnson tries to have it both ways with Zaadz.com, which he describes as MySpace for people who want to change the world.
Note: We encourage you to take some time to explore some of these exciting new adventures which are transforming the face of business and building a brighter future for us all. For more on micro-finance, micro-lending, and how you can help end poverty without donating a penny, click here. And for the profile of website founder Fred Burks on Zaadz.com, click here.
Hal Taussig wears baggy jeans and fraying work shirts that Goodwill might reject. His shoes have been resoled three times. At age 81, he doesn't own a car. He performs errands and commutes to the office by bicycle. And he has given away millions. Given the fortune that Taussig has made through Untours, his unique travel business, and has given away through the Untours Foundation, you could call him the Un-millionaire. If he so chose, he could be living in a Main Line mansion and driving a Mercedes. But he considers money and what he calls "stuff," beyond what he needs to survive, a burden, an embarrassment. In many respects, he's a 21st-century Thoreau. "Let your capital be simplicity and contentment," the sage of Walden Pond wrote. "Those are my sentiments precisely," says Taussig, who has three children, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. He directs the Untours Foundation, into which he pours all his profits - $5 million since 1992. The money is used to make low-interest loans to ventures and projects that help the needy and jobless - from a craft store in Hanoi to a home-health-care cooperative in Philadelphia. "I invest in entrepreneurial efforts to help poor people leverage themselves out of poverty." "In America, we worship success," he says. "It's a shoddy ethic that leads us to value who we are by what we are." The motto of the Untours Foundation is "a hand up, not a handout." It provides low-interest loans, here and abroad, to create jobs, build low-income housing, and support fair-trade products: goods such as coffee that are sold at a price that guarantees producers and workers a fair wage and decent livelihood.
Note: For an easy way you can use your investments to help families pull out of poverty, click here.
By salary standards, Bob Paeglow may be the least-successful doctor in America. He's got thousands of patients, but not one country club membership. His family lives in the worst neighborhood in Albany, N.Y. Fortunately, Paeglow didn't go into medicine for the money. He went into it — pretty late in life — because he kept having a vision of himself in old age he didn't like: "That the world was no better because I was a part of it than if I'd never been born." At the age of 36, Bob gave up his career as a quality control technician, went to medical school and set out to improve the quality of the planet. He opened his office in a neighborhood where most doctors wouldn't open their car door, and welcomed in all the people mainstream medicine would rather ignore. Paeglow takes absolutely no salary and survives mostly on donations. But even when people give him money, he usually plugs it right back into the practice. Every penny he makes goes back to his patients in one way or another. Does that make him the least-successful doctor in America? Or the most? If you would like to donate ... go to [Dr. Bob's website].
The planet's most pressing environmental problems ... may seem just too big to be solved with today's technology. But don't despair: A lot of bright minds are working on futuristic projects that promise to make the world greener. It's save-the-world stuff like toxic-waste-eating trees, smart electricity grids, oceangoing robots, and floating environmental sensors. This technology may seem far out - but it will probably be here a lot sooner than you think. 1. Try a solar-powered hydrogen fueling station in your garage. It's about the size of a filing cabinet and runs on electricity generated by standard-issue rooftop solar panels. The first version of the home fueling station is expected to produce enough hydrogen to give your runabout a range of some 100 miles without emitting a molecule of planet-warming greenhouse gas. 2. Environmental sensor networks [provide] real-time data on a variety of phenomena that affect the economy and society - climate change, hurricanes, air and water pollution. 3. Toxin-eating trees ... a technology that uses vegetation to absorb hazardous waste from industrial plants and other polluters. 4. Nuclear waste neutralizer ... a chemical technology called Urex+ that extracts reusable uranium and separates out cesium, allowing four times as much waste to be packed into nuclear burial grounds. 5. Autonomous ocean robots. 6. Sonic water purifier ... a sci-fi solution for an age-old problem that leaves 1.1 billion people without access to clean water: 7. Endangered-species tracker. 8. The interactive, renewable smart power grid ... the electricity grid of the future ... will look more like the Internet - distributed, interactive, open-source - than the dumb, one-way network of today.
Note: For many other exciting discoveries of new energy sources, click here.
As a motivational speaker and executive coach, Caroline Adams Miller knows a few things about using mental exercises to achieve goals. But last year, one exercise she was asked to try took her by surprise. Every night, she was to think of three good things that happened that day and analyze why they occurred. That was supposed to increase her overall happiness. "I thought it was too simple to be effective," said Miller. "I went to Harvard. I'm used to things being complicated." Miller was assigned the task as homework in a master's degree program. "The quality of my dreams has changed, I never have trouble falling asleep and I do feel happier." Miller said the exercise made her notice more good things in her day, and that now she routinely lists 10 or 20 of them rather than just three. That exercise is one of several that have shown preliminary promise in recent research into how people can make themselves happier — not just for a day or two, but long-term. There has been very little research in how people become happier. The big reason ... is that many researchers have considered that quest to be futile. But recent long-term studies have revealed that the happiness thermostat is more malleable than the popular theory maintained. One new study ... followed thousands of Germans for 17 years. About a quarter changed significantly over that time in their basic level of satisfaction with life. Another approach under study now is having people work on savoring the pleasing things in their lives like a warm shower or a good breakfast. [Yet] another promising approach is having people write down what they want to be remembered for, to help them bring their daily activities in line with what's really important to them.
The story of Danny and Annie Perasa — how they met, and how they've stayed in love — inspires many who hear it. Their joy in life, and in one another, was celebrated recently in New York, where a crowd gathered to honor Danny and Annie. The Perasas are a memorable couple. In person, they come off like a pair of favorite grandparents, with thoughtful wisecracks and stories that take unpredictable turns. They say their affinity for one another was always obvious. Their enthusiasm has now been honored in a tangible way. The StoryCorps oral history project has dedicated its booth in Grand Central Terminal to the Perasas. On Friday, Feb. 10, a plaque was unveiled that dedicated the booth to the Perasas. The plaque reads: "This booth is dedicated to Danny and Annie Perasa, who recorded their story here on January 6, 2004. Their humor, heart, eloquence and love will never be forgotten." The couple made the trip to the ceremony despite Danny's illness: suffering from pancreatic cancer, he is currently in hospice care. Their visit was a treat for those present, as the Perasas revisited the conversation they had that day in 2004, and the life they've shared since 1978.
Note: For a very touching six-minute NPR video on this true story of beautiful marriage, click here. For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
A humpback whale freed by divers from a tangle of crab trap lines near the Farallon Islands nudged its rescuers and flapped around in what marine experts said was a rare and remarkable encounter. "It felt to me like it was thanking us, knowing that it was free and that we had helped it," James Moskito, one of the rescue divers, said Tuesday. "It stopped about a foot away from me, pushed me around a little bit and had some fun." Sunday's daring rescue was the first successful attempt on the West Coast to free an entangled humpback. It was a very risky maneuver...because the mere flip of a humpback's massive tail can kill a man. "I was the first diver in the water, and my heart sank when I saw all the lines wrapped around it," said [James] Moskito. "I really didn't think we were going to be able to save it." Moskito said about 20 crab-pot ropes, which are 240 feet long with weights every 60 feet, were wrapped around the animal. Rope was wrapped at least four times around the tail, the back and the left front flipper, and there was a line in the whale's mouth. Moskito and three other divers spent about an hour cutting the ropes with a special curved knife. The whale floated passively in the water the whole time, he said, giving off a strange kind of vibration. "When I was cutting the line going through the mouth, its eye was there winking at me, watching me," Moskito said. "It was an epic moment of my life." When the whale realized it was free, it began swimming around in circles, according to the rescuers. Moskito said it swam to each diver, nuzzled him and then swam to the next one.
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