So, you might have heard: Scientists figured out how to grow miniature brains out of stem cells. Cool, right? Well, now they managed to grow Neanderthal brains, too. As a result, we have more of an idea of why our populations flourished, helping us become the dominant species on Earth, while theirs faltered.
The short version: it comes down to the way the brain structures itself as it develops. Though the research has not yet found its way into a peer-reviewed publication, a presentation on the work from earlier this month (and reported by Science Magazine) noted that some key differences suggest that Neanderthals couldn’t communicate quite as goodly as we can able to. Their brains simply weren’t wired to handle it.
Humans aren’t very fast or strong. Our kneecaps are a cruel evolutionary joke and our hair makes no sense. Let’s not even get into those weird, saggy punching bags that hang off the front of some of us.
And despite all that, we conquered the world. The common understanding of how we did it, strengthened by these new Neanderoids (that’s what the researchers call the lab-grown minibrains) is that we are able to communicate and socialize. We developed massive tribes and communities that made us more powerful than any other animal out there.
When the Neanderthal minibrains self-assembled in the lab, they resembled a popcorn shape. The human minibrains, on the other hand, were much more spherical, according to Science Magazine. The scientists behind the project noted that the the way the neurons developed and connected with one another resembled the way some neurons develop in people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. They weren’t drawing parallels between Neanderthals and people with autism, they clarified — rather, the similarities in brain structures may suggest that the ability to communicate with others works differently there than with humans with different neural structures.
Minibrains grown from pluripotent stem cells give scientists a chance to better understand the brain and how it develops. And they give researchers a chance to test new pharmaceuticals on a (simplified) human model, which yields better results than animal tests.
And while these minibrains are still considered laboratory tools, scientists are already working out ethical guidelines for how they should be treated, should we someday develop the ability to grow more advanced brains in a lab.
But we aren’t there yet. Scientists, to be clear, didn’t grow a living Neanderthal — they used stem cells to carry Neanderthal genes to grow a tiny, simplified version of a brain-like organ.
Still, we’ve taken steps toward better understanding our less-fortunate evolutionary uncles, and that could help us better understand how we came to be the species that we are today.
All the diseases we’ve ever had; the medications we took to treat them; our genetic condition; the results of any test, scan, or swab to which we’ve ever been subjected. Our medical histories are packed with tremendous value.
In the right, thoughtful hands, these records could help researchers better understand the connections between genetics, diet, disease, and health. Pharmaceuticals could vastly improve.
In the wrong hands, these records hold a different type of value. Forbes reported last year that a medical record can be worth more than 100,000 times as much as a stolen social security number on the black market. These records can be misused even if they’re shared with the wrong people. Employers, for example, may want to know which job applicants are more likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease; targeted advertisements could get a hell of a lot more personal.
Now, the government of Ontario — a hotbed of technological research — announced Project Spark, an initiative to make healthcare data more accessible to healthcare professionals, researchers, companies, and the people of Ontario themselves. So there’s reason to be excited, and a bit nervous.
Ontario, like all of Canada, provides a single payer healthcare system, meaning doctor visits and other medical expenses are subsidized by the government. That means the government of Ontario has accumulated a vast, central database of its citizens’ electronic health records that in other healthcare systems might be fragmented among various doctor’s offices, health maintenance organizations, and medical labs.
With all of these records in the same place, the government of Ontario claims that it’s easier than ever for people to keep track of their own medical histories and stay better informed of their conditions and risks as they go about their lives. Doctors won’t need to track down elusive records or start piecing together patients’ medical histories from scratch, risking allergic reactions or ordering tests on patients who have been through it all before but weren’t able to bring their paper trail with them.
That’s one of the proposed benefits of Project Spark — a platform that lets people access and contribute to their own medical record in a way that could democratize medicine and healthcare. But the main purpose of Spark is to let innovators, researchers, and other companies “plug in” to the province’s treasure trove of healthcare data.
“This is an interesting initiative that has potential to improve health outcomes and reduce costs,” Avi Goldfarb, a tech economics researcher at University of Toronto, told Futurism.
While the people of Ontario won’t have to contribute additional data to Project Spark — the government isn’t going to come knocking with cheek swabs for genetic tests — but it does turn them and their medical histories into commodities.
Commodities that could bring about medical breakthroughs but could also share more personal details than they may want to give.
Right now, Ontario’s health records are stored in secured databases with tight controls over who can access what. But if Project Spark, or any other holder of big data repositories, is about to open for business, it needs to take extra care in advance. Ontario only gets one shot to do this right.
If the government fails to properly protect patient privacy, or opens the doors to the wrong companies, Ontarians whose data falls into the wrong hands could face dire consequences. The team behind Project Spark has not responded to Futurism’s request for a statement on how it handles data privacy and how it will choose and prioritize among the companies and organizations vying for access to its health records (we will update this article if and when we hear back).
In the meantime, there are some ways that Ontario’s Project Spark (or any other organization that finds itself in this situation) can develop a healthy marketplace that promotes medical transparency and biomedical research without sacrificing data privacy.
“Making health data available for academic research is an important step in advancing our understanding of diseases and cures,” Christian Catalini, an associate professor of technological innovation at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of MIT’s cryptoeconomics lab, told Futurism. “At the same time, when multiple entities, including for-profit ones, receive access, it becomes extremely important to ensure that the data cannot be de-anonymized, especially when used in conjunction with other private datasets,” Catalini added.
Any company or research institute that gains access to electronic health records must be barred from ever learning who it is actually studying. For instance, if a team of scientists wants to determine whether or not people with a certain genetic makeup are predisposed to develop certain conditions, the team could be required to request and receive only the pertinent data from each health record — information on the genes in question and whether or not those people developed the condition being studied. No names or identities at all.
“This information has potential to improve healthcare substantially overall. In the process, it is important that any individual-level data is only accessible to those who need it to improve health outcomes,” Goldfarb said. “The key will be to ensure that individuals are protected as the overall benefit accrues.” Goldfarb cited research that suggests mishandling health data, specifically by keeping information hidden when it’s most needed by practitioners, can have serious repercussions on vulnerable populations in particular.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to make sure that a system gives researchers and private companies only the data relevant to a study (and nothing else) so that they can’t learn who has had what conditions but just that someone has.
“Digital information is easy to copy and reuse outside of its intended purpose, so I hope the initiative takes data security and privacy very seriously,” added Catalini.
Of course, once the data is out there, it’s very difficult to make sure people don’t misuse it. This is why the government of Ontario needs to be particularly careful as it moves forward. To signal to the world that it respects and values its people and their privacy, Ontario needs to very carefully vet who will have access to Project Spark. As Quartz mentioned, over 100 companies are currently in line.
To make sure that data only goes to those who will use it responsibly, like conducting medical research that could benefit those who unwittingly donated their medical records, the government of Ontario ought to vet every single application to access its health data. Not just once per company, but for every study that would analyze them.
Project Spark could set up its system such that relevant data is available, but then automatically deleted once the study or project is completed. That way, if that same data works its way into another study or some marketing company’s database, it would be easy to tell who broke the rules and cut them off down the road. A model for this already exists: journalists can sometimes access academic papers before they’re released to better prepare their articles as long as they agree not to publish their article until the paper actually comes out. Those who publish early risk losing access in the future.
Again, these are proposed solutions to the problem of gleaning valuable insight from data that ought to be kept safe and anonymous. And we don’t yet know how Project Spark plans to handle these issues.
We live in a world where large troves of data are leaked or stolen on a seemingly daily basis. Whether it’s the latest Facebook privacy scandal, the recent leak of 150 million MyFitnessPal accounts, or the Equifax leak that now feels like ancient history, evidence suggests that just about any data put online could end up stolen. If we want people to trust that their data will be used to help people and not used against them, especially where their personal medical records are concerned, programs like Project Spark will have to invest in the right kind of digital infrastructure before kicking into high gear.
Australian biohacker Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow has made himself into a real-life cyborg.
In April 2017, Meow-Meow implanted a chip in his hand. The chip is from his Opal card, needed to ride public transportation in Sydney, and it essentially functions as a debit card — users add money to it, then whenever they use a bus, train, or other transportation service, they swipe their card to pay the fee.
Thanks to his new implant, Meow-Meow no longer had to worry about losing his card. The biohacker could just place his hand near the Opal card reader and be on his way.
All this was presumably working out OK for Meow-Meow until August 2017. That’s when the New South Wales transport authority, which issues the Opal cards, charged him with traveling without a ticket and failing to produce a ticket for transportation officials.
In March, Meow-Meow pled guilty to the charges, but argued that he shouldn’t have to pay a fine or have a conviction recorded. The court disagreed, recording his conviction and ordering him to pay a A$220 fine and A$1,000 in legal fees.
Not satisfied with that outcome, Meow-Meow appealed the decision in the District Court. This week, judge Dina Yehia issued her ruling, overturning the conviction and saving Meow-Meow from that A$220 fine. However, the biohacker will still need to cover the legal fees.
He did pay for his ticket and wasn’t trying to skip out on paying Opal.
The crime wasn’t all that serious.
Meow-Meow appears satisfied with the outcome. “I’ll have to pay costs…but won the moral victory,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “Cyborg justice has been served.”
Meow-Meow’s “moral victory” might speed up that process. NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance told ABC News the government would continue to review its transport policies, and perhaps the next update will take into account the case of the chip-wielding cyborg with that really odd name.
AI knows when you’re going to die. But unlike in sci-fi movies, that information could end up saving lives.
A new paper published in Nature suggests that feeding electronic health record data to a deep learning model could substantially improve the accuracy of projected outcomes. In trials using data from two U.S. hospitals, researchers were able to show that these algorithms could predict a patient’s length of stay and time of discharge, but also the time of death.
The neural network described in the study uses an immense amount of data, such as a patient’s vitals and medical history, to make its predictions. A new algorithm lines up previous events of each patient’s records into a timeline, which allowed the deep learning model to pinpoint future outcomes, including time of death. The neural network even includes handwritten notes, comments, and scribbles on old charts to make its predictions. And all of these calculations in record time, of course.
What can we do with this information, besides fear the inevitable? Hospitals could find new ways to prioritize patient care, adjust treatment plans, and catch medical emergencies before they even occur. It could also free up healthcare workers, who would no longer have to manipulate the data into a standardized, legible format.
AI, of course, already has a number of other applications in healthcare. A pair of recently developed algorithms could diagnose lung cancer and heart disease even more accurately than human doctors. Health researchers have also fed retinal images to AI algorithms to determine the chances a patient could develop one (or more) of three major eye diseases.
But those early trials operated on a much smaller scale than what Google is trying to do. More and more of our health data is being uploaded to centralized computer systems, but most of these databases exist independently, spread across various healthcare systems and government agencies.
Funneling all of this personal data into a single predictive model owned by one of the largest private corporations in the world is a solution, but it’s not an appealing one. Electronic health records of millions of patients in the hands of a small number of private companies could quickly allow the likes of Google to exploit health industries, and become a monopoly in healthcare.
Just last week, Alphabet-owned DeepMind Health came under scrutiny by the U.K. government over concerns it was able to “exert excessive monopoly power,” according to TechCrunch. And their relationship was already frayed over allegations that DeepMind Health broke U.K. laws by collecting patient data without proper consent in 2017.
Healthcare professionals are already concerned about the effect that AI will have on medicine once it’s truly embedded, and if we don’t take precautions for transparency before then. The American Medical Association admits in a statement that combining AI with human clinicians can bring significant benefits, but states that AI tools must “strive to meet several key criteria, including being transparent, standards-based, and free from bias.” The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) passed by Congress in 1996 — 22 years is an eternity in technology terms — just won’t cut it.
Without a effective regulatory framework that encourages transparency in the U.S. it will be near impossible to hold these companies accountable. It may be up to private companies to ensure that AI technology will have an impact on healthcare that benefits patients, not just the companies themselves.
Forget constructing cool Martian habitats, growing food, or digging tunnels. If we can’t figure out a way to breathe on Mars, what’s the point of all of our colonization plans?
Now, we may have a new hope in the hunt for a steady supply of oxygen on the Red Planet: cyanobacteria. This family of bacteria sucks up carbon dioxide and discharges oxygen in some of Earth’s most inhospitable environments. On Friday, a team of researchers published a new study in the journal Science linking the tiny organisms to the possibility of human life on Mars.
Remember photosynthesis? It’s how plants and other organisms convert sunlight into energy. Cyanobacteria also use photosynthesis to produce energy, but they’re able to do so in conditions with far less sunlight than what you need to grow your tomato plants. In fact, scientists have found cyanobacteria thriving in the deepest trenches in the ocean.
A key part of the photosynthesis process is the chemical chlorophyll. Most plants and organisms convert visible light into energy using chlorophyll-a. The researchers figured out that cyanobacteria use a special kind of chlorophyll, chlorophyll-f, to convert far-red/near infrared light into energy. This is how they’re able to live in such low-light environments.
“This work redefines the minimum energy needed in light to drive photosynthesis,” study co-author Jennifer Morton said in a news release. “This type of photosynthesis may well be happening in your garden, under a rock.”
The upshot: we can send cyanobacteria to Mars to produce oxygen for colonists in the future, the researchers note. We’ve already found the organisms living in the Mojave Desert, Antarctica, and even on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS), so they seem well-equipped to survive the harsh conditions of our planetary neighbor.
“This might sound like science fiction, but space agencies and private companies around the world are actively trying to turn this aspiration into reality in the not-too-distant future,” said study co-author Elmars Krausz in the press release. “Photosynthesis could theoretically be harnessed with these types of organisms to create air for humans to breathe on Mars.”
Now that we have a solid lead on a source of extraterrestrial oxygen, go ahead and start mentally constructing that Martian habitat of your dreams. You might not be able to actually live in it for another couple of decades, but at least you’ll likely be able to breathe once you move in.
Healthcare in developing parts of the world has remained below standard over a long period of time. The reasons for this can be related to system weaknesses in terms of leadership, governance, workforce, technology, finance among others.
Traditional implementations in attempt to achieve lasting solutions to these problems have left the people going round in circles with most nations depending on international aides. Perhaps the lack of motivation by healthcare beneficiaries who usually go through rigorous processes also plays a huge role in the existing setbacks experienced.
Blockchain in Healthcare, a Growing Trend
Blockchain implementation in the healthcare industry is becoming popular practice. It is being adopted for several purposes which include enhancing supply chain management, especially in the pharmaceutical sector. Data and process management, security and information confidentiality, public health surveillance among other purposes are also being enhanced using blockchain.
Tokenization appears to be one of the most dynamic aspect of blockchain technology that is enabling the extended flexibility ever present in its implementation. The existence of underlying tokens has enabled trustless and transparent transactions and goes a long way to reducing the human influence that has been blamed for most of the bottlenecks that exist within administrative settings. Payments, rewards and incentivisation processes have also been sanitized using smart contracts, thereby re-establishing trust and building motivation for participants in blockchain settings.
With the achievements made so far, it is no secret that blockchain technology presents immense opportunity for healthcare on a global scale. Digital Health expert and CEO of Izzy Care, Kenneth Colon tells CCN that one of the biggest promises of blockchain technology is enabling patients to monetize their health data, if they so choose, allowing them personally to benefit financially from their data, and not the corporations who traditionally maintain control of this data.
Rewards for Regimen
Colon elaborates that blockchain technology can further be used to tokenize a patient’s health and wellness. For example, token rewards can be issued, in a trustless fashion with smart contracts to patients for following their prescribed treatment regimen and making progress towards their personal health and wellness goals.
Such development is expected to enable patients across the globe to bring down the cost of their medical care and benefit financially from achieving their personal health goals.
With the proper structure, token economies could also enable the subsidizing of care for individuals and families with little-to-no annual income, who otherwise may be unable to afford access to the high-quality care they deserve as is obtainable in most developing nations.
Blockchain Alone Is Not Enough
As promising as blockchain technology is, however, it is also important to note that blockchain alone isn’t enough to solve healthcare globally.
One of the key areas that must be addressed is what kind of care is delivered. The type of one-off, transactional model we currently see in healthcare like local and international aides as mentioned above appears to be counterproductive. These methods have a way of discouraging patients from seeking help in the first place, considering the stress and rampant mismanagement that exist in such circles. The siloed nature of this care is equally counterproductive. You cannot expect someone, a patient, to thrive if you’re not caring for them holistically, taking into account their general medical needs, mental health, nutrition, etc.
The focus should be on some robust, all-inclusive payment models to deliver highly personalized, integrated care. This means treating patients as individuals, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, and taking into account not only their physical health, but their mental health and access to proper nutrition.
Hence, it is also necessary to address provider shortages by embracing other technologies and using them in conjunction with blockchain. For example, using artificial intelligence to further automate clinician workflows, enabling healthcare providers to focus on higher-yield tasks, such as seeing more patients and forming stronger patient-doctor relationships. Or utilizing telemedicine (encrypted messaging, live video) to bridge provider gaps, connecting patients and providers across the globe.
Solutions that allow patients to monetize their own data, reward patients for engaging in their care and drive down costs, make treatment accessible to all, support the evolution of delivery models to support precision medicine and integrated care, and embrace technologies to automate workflows and help physicians have higher-quality interactions with more patients, I believe, are crucial for the advancement of healthcare worldwide.
We take the vast computing power of our brains for granted. But scientists are still trying to get computers to the brain’s level.
This is how we ended up with artificial intelligence algorithms that learn through virtual neurons — the neural net.
Now a team of engineers has taken another step closer to emulating the computers in our noggins: they’ve built a physical neural network, with circuits that even more closely resemble neurons. When they tested an AI algorithm on the new type of circuitry, they found that it performed as well as conventional neural nets already in use. But! the new integrated neural net system completed the task with 100 times less energy than a conventional AI algorithm.
If these new neuron-based circuits take off, artificial intelligence researchers will soon be able to do a lot more computing with a lot less energy. Like using a tin can to communicate with an actual telephone, computer chips and neural net algorithms just speak two different languages, and work slower as a result. But in the new system, the hardware and software were built to work perfectly together. So the new AI system completed the tasks much faster than a conventional system, without any drop in accuracy.
This is a step up from previous attempts to make silicon-based neural networks. Usually, the AI systems built on these sorts of neuron-inspired chips don’t usually work as well as conventional artificial intelligence. But the new research modeled two types of neurons: one that was geared for quick computations and another that was designed to store long-term memory, the researchers explained to MIT Technology Review.
There’s good reason to be skeptical of any researcher who claims that the answer to truly comprehensive, general artificial intelligence and consciousness is to recreate the human brain. That’s because, fundamentally, we know very little about how the brain works. And chances are, there are lots of things in our brains that a computer would find useless.
But even so, the researchers behind the new artificial neural hardware have been able to glean important lessons from how our brains work and apply it to computer science. In that sense, they have figured out how to further artificial intelligence by cherry-picking what our brains have to offer without getting weighed down trying to rebuild the whole darn thing.
As technology sucks up more and more power, the hundred-fold improvement to energy efficiency in this AI system means scientists will be able to pursue big questions without leaving such a huge footprint on the environment.
Oh, cats. Anyone who has tried to understand one has found that a feline’s fickle moods are simply impossible to predict. But ever wonder what makes cats tick — you know, on the inside? Now you can find out thanks to a (very literally) hands-on new demo in virtual reality.
On Monday, San Francisco-based tech company Leap Motion announced the fourth generation of its Orion VR tracking software. The biggest change? Anyone with an Oculus or Vive VR system can better navigate the virtual world with their hands. According to a blog post on the company’s website, the software improvements include “better finger dexterity,” “smoother hand and finger tracking,” and “faster and more consistent hand initialization.”
And what better way to demonstrate these new software capabilities than by exploring a cat’s biology?
Leap Motion shows off the tech improvements to Orion in a trio of new demos: Cat Explorer, Particles, and Paint.
Cat Explorer lets you inspect the interior of a disturbingly forlorn-looking feline in VR. You can run your fingers over its exposed ribs, remove the animal’s skin to look at its muscle structure, or even deconstruct the kitty, poking and prodding each individual bone and organ.
In the Particles demo, you can play around with tiny spheres, adjusting their reactions to one another to explore different concepts in physics.
The Paint demo is pretty much what you’d expect — it lets you use your hands to create a three-dimensional composition. Just don’t get too upset if your creation looks more like something that would come from Microsoft Paint than the colorful, well-rendered animals and plants featured in the demo video.
As Leap Motion notes in the blog post, Cat Explorer is a tangible example of the potential benefits of the Orion VR tracking software in “education, training, healthcare, and entertainment.”
We’re already seeing medical schools around the world make the transition to VR, since it’s a lot less messy (and, arguably, more ethical) to dissect a virtual human or animal than a real one. Improvements to a system like Orion could facilitate this shift.
Meanwhile, Particles and Paint demonstrate VR’s potential uses in physics and art, respectively. It’s not hard to imagine physicists using a more robust version of Particles to test out new theories on the behavior of matter (one of its preset settings is “String Theory”); automobile manufactures already use augmented reality to design their vehicles — some version of Paint could facilitate that kind of work, too.
We can’t promise that using the Cat Explorer software will help you understand why your cat chooses to bolt from one side of your house to the other at 3 AM. But, hey, some things are best left mysterious.
Don’t we all just have that friend that won’t shut up about that time he did shrooms in the woods (we get it, Sean. You can stop telling us the story). Now that friend might have a new audience: a Johns Hopkins University psychiatrist is all ears. For, you know, science.
Roland Griffiths, who has spent years studying the medical implications of mood-altering and hallucinogenic drugs, is now soliciting volunteers to share their stories of taking psychedelics, Motherboard reports. In particular, Griffiths wants to know if taking LSD, DMT, or their ilk has had lasting impacts on people’s lives.
According to the experiment’s website, the purpose of the survey is to look for cases of people who gained new psychological insight into their lives while tripping balls. The goal would be to find ways to apply the takeaways in these cases to future psychiatric therapy.
Griffith and his team refer to these sorts of life alterations as quantum change — a powerful shift in one’s moods or thoughts as a result of sudden new insights or experiences.
It’s certainly too soon to speculate what sorts of conclusions and (eventually) treatments might emerge from this experiment. But it does seem to indicate shifting attitudes within the scientific and medical communities, and the growing acceptance of hallucinogenic drugs. With growing evidence that microdosing hallucinogenicscould benefit all sorts of people and medical marijuana allowed in 29 U.S. states, our attitudes towards therapeutic drug use have certainly grown.
And we’re certainly a far cry from MK-Ultra, the top-secret CIA program that tested the effects of LSD on American citizens in hopes of enhancing interrogation and torture techniques. It’s nice to see hallucinogen research continue with the goal of finding new ways to help people instead.
“To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” Henry David Thoreau
“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.” Robert Louis Stevenson
Some days are great, better than you would have expected when you rolled out of the bed in the morning.
Quite a few days are just good and OK days.
And then we have the other ones. The days that just wind up being bad.
What do you do then? I used to let them drag me down and I often wound up having not just one but a couple of bad days because of whatever happened.
Nowadays I do things a bit differently. And this week I’d like to share how I do that.
This is 9 tips and habits that help me to turn a bad day around. Most of the time I use more than one of these habits to do that.
I usually start turning my day around with shaking things up by using my body in some way.
The first thing I almost always do is to just breathe. I breathe deeply through my nose by using my belly. I focus only on the air going in and out for 1-2 minutes.
This calms my body and mind.
2. Do a power pose.
Then I sometimes follow that up by striking what Amy Cuddy calls a power pose for about 2 minutes (check out her TED talk, it’s really good).
The simplest way to strike a power pose is to stand up confidently like Wonder Woman or Superman with your legs apart, head up and your hands on your hips.
It might sound odd but it can really change how you feel in a quick and positive way.
3. Work out.
Another habit I use several times a week to shake things up by using my body is to lift free weights in my home. I do this for about 30-40 minutes and it helps me to release tensions and worry.
And after I am done I feel more powerful, focused and energetic.
Just by hugging someone quickly you can feel safer and more optimistic again. And an embrace that lasts 30 seconds or a minute or more can recharge your your batteries and release an unexpectedly large amount of stress and tensions.
5. Pet an animal.
If you don’t have anyone close by to hug during a bad day then pet your cat, dog, bird etc. It has a very similar calming and stress reliving effect.
And it makes your animal companion happy and that in turn will boost your mood too.
6. Find a new viewpoint.
The body tips above often work well to change my perspective by altering my emotional state and energy level.
Sometimes something more is needed though.
So I start looking more actively for a better and more helpful viewpoint by asking myself a couple of questions.
Three of my most commonly used questions that help me with that are:
Will this matter 5 years from now?
What is one small action, one small and practical step I can take to start turning this day or situation around?
7. Go out into nature and enjoy the summer.
Leave your couch or workspace for a little while. Talk a walk and just soak in the summer sun and warmth. Enjoy the birds singing and the nature blossoming.
Just being out there in nature tends to make it easier to think optimistically again and to start looking for practical solutions or upsides. Or you can simply be there in the moment fully and let your thoughts about for example work rest for a while (and then later on you can return to that with fresh eyes and a calmer mind).
Another upside is that the sunshine and exercise during this 20-30 minute pause in my day also recharges my energy.
8. Accept what is.
One thing that sometimes work better than just about anything is simply to accept what is at this moment.
To not deny or try to push away negative feelings or thoughts that show up. Even though you may feel an impulse to do so.
Instead, just accept what is right now. The thoughts and feelings within you. And just be with them fully and observe them flowing through you.
By doing so you are not giving up.
No, because when you accept what is then you stop feeding the negative thoughts in your mind with more energy. And so they become weaker.
They start to lose their grip on you after a while and then they float away. And so you feel more open and are able to think more clearly again.
9. Remember: sometimes a bad day will just be a bad day.
Now, from time to time, even if you use several of the techniques above – one after the other – you won’t be able to turn a bad day around. That has been my experience at least.
Because no matter what habits you adopt, life will never be perfect, positive or awesome all the time.
And this website was never about living some kind of life that only exists in a perfect dream anyway.
This website is about replacing unhelpful habits with better ones. It is about raising the percentages of times where you can handle things in a better way. In your regular, everyday life. And when bigger things happen.
Because that will make a huge difference.
But still, life will have natural valleys.
And a bad day will sometimes just be a bad day. And that’s OK. That’s life.
But the interesting thing is this: if you accept that life is like this sometimes – and let go of the dream of perfection – then you’ll create less suffering for yourself and life will become lighter, simpler and happier.
So in the long run there is an upside even to a bad day that you may not be able to turn around.