The Happiest Things Of 2013
1. @TheDailyLove. Need a quick pick-me-up? Follow this twitter account to read through a constant stream of inspiring quotes and articles.
2. Kid President's Pep Talk. In late January, Soul Pancake gave us Kid President. He told us "the world needs to stop being boring," (that means you). He told us boring was easy, and that we're "gooder" than that, and even though Life is both a cereal and a game, we're all on the same side. His words took the internet by storm and millions were suddenly nostalgic for Space Jam. We loved/love Kid President, because he's funny, honest and delivers a pep talk in a way that can only come from the precocious heart and mind of a kid.
3. Two good friends take shelter from the rain under a single banana leaf in Indonesia. In a nutshell (or a leaf), this is what friends are for.
Photo by Kendisan Seruyan
4. Do the KIND Thing: Projects. Founded in November of this year, the site funds one inspiring project each month by donating $10,000 dollars to it. On the site itself, you can propose your OWN project to be funded, or you can support another that you want to succeed. Watch the video to get a quick overview of some of the great ideas already in motion:
5. The donations that helped send a homeless teen to college. James Ward, a student at Howard University, spent much of his childhood homeless, or living in a single room with his mother, and two siblings in various L.A. shelters. When a volunteer named Jessica Sutherland found out that James was short $14,000 to attend college, she stepped in. With the help of Union Rescue Mission she created the James Fund. Donations came pouring in and within a week, they reached their goal, and James entered his freshman year at Howard without the weight of tuition on his back.
6. Baby & Me. The viral ad by Evian has nearly 70 million hits on Youtube to date, and for good reason. Pedestrians of all ages discover their inner children in the reflection of a store-window and it's just delightful--and ridiculously share-worthy. Send this to anyone who needs to get in touch with their younger side.
7. These young daredevils defying the odds of gravity on an open road in Saudi Arabia. Is this not something that anyone, from any culture might enjoy? It doesn't take a certain race or ethnicity or upbringing to know a good time when you see one.
Mohamed Al Hwaity for Reuters
8. "A Letter From Fred." Early this summer, 94-year-old widower, Fred Stobaugh, entered a song-writing competition with a ballad he wrote for his wife of 75 years. The competition holders, Green Shoe Studio, didn't choose Fred as the winner, but what they did was even better. They recorded Fred's song, "Oh Sweet Lorraine," in a professional studio, and gave him the fully completed track as a gift. The look on Fred's face is pure, overwhelming joy.
9. The Uber Kitten Delivery promotion that almost immediately led to the Uber Kitten Shortage. For National Cat Day, the taxi hailing service known as Uber, promised 15 minutes of kitten playtime delivered right to your office. The demand was so high that they actually ran out of kittens. A smart marketing strategy that proves too much of a good thing is wonderful.
10. A pair of Gentoo Penguin chicks snuggling in for a close up in Antarctica. Yeah, I could go to Antarctica. Totally worth it for the Gentoo Peng's. For more awesome photos like this one, check out other great entries in the National Geographic 2013 Traveler Photo Contest.
Richard Sidey for National Geographic
11. "Dove Real Beauty Sketches." Mid-spring brought us another ad that struck our hearts. Dove's beauty-sketch experiment exposed a self-criticism that affects a large population of people trying to keep up with our culture's standard of beauty. It showed the stark difference in how their descriptions of themselves compared to what a total stranger saw. None of them realized that they really were their own worst critics until the two sketches sat side-by-side. Dove used it's media to empower people to regard themselves with a kinder gaze.
12. Pharrell's 24-hour music video of "Happy." It's hard to be gloomy while looking at happy people. Pharrell probably had that in mind when he turned his music video for "Happy" into a website that plays the song on loop 24/7 with an ecstatic human dancing toward a camera. The song itself is enough to improve your mood, but if you watch various strangers shake their groove thang along with it, you'll find it hard not to get up yourself.
13. Humans Of New York wins the 2013 Webby Award for "Best Use of Photography," and the People's Voice Award for "Best Cultural Blog." The grid photo blog was started by Brandon Stanton, a 29-year-old self-taught photographer, in 2010. It features exactly what the title promises: Humans in New York City. Though the concept is simple, the results are anything but. The collection of beautiful photos and powerful stories acquired millions of fans, and two great distinctions in just three years.
14. Microsoft becomes America's most inspirational company. A survey of over 4,000 consumers was carried out to determine which company inspired people the most. After losing the top spot to Apple for the last two years, Microsoft received this particular badge of honor. People who believed that Microsoft deserved the title cited the CEO's charitable acts and the company's profits and revenue that can be utilized for the betterment of the world.
15. Mama Hope tells us to stop stereotyping African men, and does it in a really funny way. Most Westerners, including myself, know African "culture" only from what is shown in movies produced in, well, not Africa. We then easily stereotype Africans based on the characters (mostly villains) that portray and ultimately represent them. This blanket of stereotypes leads to pity, which prevents us from believing that real people from or in Africa are capable of anything outside the cultural boundaries our movie mind-frame sets up. Thanks to Mama Hope, a non-profit organization, we've got this video to crack open our perspective, and to crack a smile while we're at it.
16. Beyoncé thanks Todrick Hall for the awesome dance-flashmob he lead in Target. Two years ago, former American Idol contestant, Todrick Hall, put together a flashmob in the aisles of Target to Beyonce's "End Of Time." The flashmob itself happened in 2011, but Beyonce's shout-out to Hall and his huge dance crew happened earlier this year, which brought it back into the limelight, and those who didn't catch it the first time got to see it. Hooray!
17. Nike launches the #BeTrue campaign to end homophobia in sports. In an effort to promote lgbt equality in sports, Nike launched a new line of athletic wear that incorporated the rainbow into its various designs. The gesture was more than a mere market ploy, since Nike vowed to donate all proceeds from the line to the LGBT Sports Coalition, which came to an impressive total of $200,000.
Via Think Progress
18. Fitch, Please. After Abercrombie &Fitch CEO, Michael Jefferies, explicitly stated that he only wants "cool" and "hot" people shopping at his stores, Ellen took time on her show to put him in his place. Her rant encouraged us to believe that "cool" doesn't come from the outside; it's comes from who you are.
19. The social media campaign that raised $10,000 in 24 hours. Charity: Water thought of awesome idea to raise a lot of dough for clean water. On October 1, they set out to raise $10,ooo before the day's end, thusly naming the campaign, 10K on 10/1 (pronounced, ten kay on ten won). For 24 hours, the staff utilized their connections and hosted a Google hangout in which people could converse with various thought leaders. Due to the careful, expert planning of the campaign, they met their goal before 10/1 became 10/2.
20. Therapy retrievers surprise the residents of Newtown. In the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings, the residents of Newtown remained understandably shocked and afraid after the tragic ordeal took place. To help the students and townspeople recover, a group of golden retrievers was brought in from Chicago for a day of comfort. By merely wagging their tails and wanting to be petted, the retrievers of the Lutheran Church Charities’ K-9 Comfort Dogs Ministry assuaged shock and fear, replacing it with a moment of joy.
Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images