The 25 most surprising stories of human potential in 2019

Here are the ways we learned to live better, happier, and longer in 2019.

pendulum swing

Whether it’s via your Instagram feed, your mother, or the Reddit board r/TIL, we are inundated every day with tips to help us be better, healthier, richer, and happier. But not all of these pieces of advice are created equal. Some have zero scientific evidence behind them. But take heart: In 2019, Inverse studied the research for you.

We’ve picked 25 discoveries from 2019 that shine a light on all that humans are capable of — and offer a masterclass in self-improvement.

Did we miss something? Tell us. Email your suggestions.


25. Study: MDMA may have a surprising effect on our ability to learn

The drug may return the brain to a teenage “critical period,’ re-opening neural plasticity.

24. Turning back time: Humans can reverse their biological age

People can roll back the clock with three commercially available drugs.

couple with dog

23. 3 reasons why being around pets can make you happier and healthier

“There is something unique about our relationship with animals.”

dating app addicts

22. Dating app “addicts” share these two traits

About 40 percent of people date online to find partners. But what if you can’t stop swiping?


21. How to hack your diet to fight depression

Just three weeks of chowing down on specific foods could improve your mood.

night owls

20. The scientific reason why working 9-to-5 is unfair to “night owls”

There’s a need to “create more flexibility in our society.”


19. Futuristic light therapy could help you get 43 extra minutes of sleep

“Flash therapy” could be the next big sleep aid.

math brain

18. Study: Math skills may depend on this one personality trait

The ability to compute numbers and make sense of problems will only take you so far.

super poop

17. For fecal transplants, not all poop is created equal

Are you a “super pooper” — and, if not, could you become one?

man boulder

16. Grit may be the “secret sauce” for success

Passion and perseverance keep people performing, even when the going gets tough.

anxiety, anxiety treatment

15. Study exposes anxiety’s roots in the brain — and points way to treatment

“We are getting closer to defining the cells and molecules producing or preventing anxiety.”

exercise timing

14. This is the best time to work out to form a habit

Can you HIIT it in the morning?

classroom learning

13. This may be the fastest way to learn something new, according to science

Perfection is not the ultimate goal of learning, researchers say.

Man in national park

12. Is intermittent fasting the longevity life hack we’ve been waiting for?

Diving into the science behind 2019’s favorite diet.


11. Scientists traced procrastination’s deep biological roots in the brain

Procrastination is not just poor time management.

omega 3 fish oil supplement

10. Taking this one supplement could help fight depression

Research reveals the brain-boosting power of one common supplement.

crossword brain

9. Studies: One daily habit may help your brain beat the effects of aging

You can’t stop the passage of time, but you can do lots of crosswords.


8. Study pinpoints the limit of human endurance — and it’s impressively high

“The limits of endurance appear to be non-negotiable.”


7. Why you should start talking to yourself, according to science

Talking to yourself can help you achieve your goals — if you do it right.

head in clouds

6. Growing up in nature can offer lasting psychological benefits — study

For children, spending time in nature might safeguard their later mental health.

man napping

5. Study: Naps may actually save your life

This is how many naps you should take a week, according to science.

box breathing

4. Before a panic attack strikes, stressed-out people can use this technique

This NAVY seal method could be the key to overcoming panic.

alarm clock

3. Study reveals why getting enough sleep may be critical to your health

A November 2019 study suggests seven hours may be the ‘magic number’ for ideal sleep.

rats on DMT

2. Rat study hints at the benefits of psychedelic micro-dosing

Scientists are getting closer to unraveling the science behind all the hype.

Binary face art

1. To master new skills, follow these 4 psychologist-backed tips

Expert musicians practice deliberately to master new skills. Their technique can be applied to anything.

Media via MHJ / Getty Images, Getty Images, giphy, Getty, Shutterstock, Malte Mueller / Getty images, Graphics Master /Shutterstock, bortonia / Getty Images, yogysic/ Getty Images, erhui1979 / Getty Images, CSA Images / Getty Images, GeorgePeters / Getty Images, Yulia Reznikov / Imagezoo / Getty Images, shutterstock, Tatiana Pankova / Shutterstock, Unsplash, kathykonkle / Pobytov / Getty Images, CHRISTOPH BURGSTEDT/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images