I always want to strive for a spirit of honesty in this blog, so I’m about to get very candid.
My mental health has not been at its peak lately.
I don’t want to complain, because my issues have always been pretty manageable, and I’ve been very lucky in a lot of ways. But the last couple months, I have felt suffocated and drained, and I’ve started to show symptoms of depression. (I don’t suffer from depression chronically, but extended periods of emotional exhaustion take their toll eventually, no matter who you are).
The general reason behind this is bad news. I feel like I’ve been drowning in bad news. And I know I’m not alone. Tons of people, and so many of them my age, are getting burned out at an alarming rate. And it’s because we’re worried. Everything from the nasty political climate to the actual climate has us all wondering what kind of future we’re facing. (When I heard that cases of “a polio-like virus” have come up in the U.S.–after decades of being eradicated–I wanted to scream).
(Side note: if you’re an anti-vaxxer, you’re not welcome on my page).
But media always gravitates to the negative. As skeptical as I’ve grown, one thing I still hold onto is the idea of balance. For every bad story, there is a good one. We just don’t get shown the good ones as often. So, for our sanity, and for our hurting hearts, here are 15 bits of good news to smile about.
- A Lot More is Being Done for the Environment Than We Think
This is a big one, because I still have a life to lead, and I want to bring my children into a healthy, livable world. I think about that a lot. Greta Thunberg has been an inspiring leader and activist for climate change, but she isn’t the only one taking action. And there have been some uplifting results:
- Morgan Freeman turned a 124 acre ranch in Mississippi into a bee sanctuary.
- Over the last 20 years, Sebastião and Lélia Salgado planted over 2 million trees in Brazil, restoring an entire forest and the ecosystem therein.
- Ireland and the UK have declared a climate emergency, and more countries are getting on board as information spreads.
- Nine species have been taken off the endangered list this year.
- 20+ countries in Africa have started work on the Great Green Wall, a “wall” of trees being planted across the continent to stop the spread of desertification. (And the only kind of wall worth supporting).
There’s more, but this is a nice little taste of positive environmental news. The world isn’t saved yet, but there is definitely hope, and it’s important we remember that.
- The Top 5 Pageant Holders this Year are Women of Color
Miss Universe (Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa), Miss World (Toni-Ann Singh of Jamaica), Miss America (Nia Franklin), Miss USA (Cheslie Kryst), and Miss Teen USA (Kaliegh Garris) have all been crowned this year, making it the first time in history that all five titles have been given to black women.
In her acceptance speech, Zozibini Tunzi had this to say: “I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me, with my kind of skin and my kind of hair, was never considered beautiful. I think it is time that stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face. And I want them to see their faces reflected in mine.”
Toni-Ann Singh said this in a tweet after her win: “To that little girl in St. Thomas, Jamaica and all the girls around the world–please believe in yourself. Please know that you are worthy and capable of achieving your dreams. This crown is not mine but yours. You have a purpose.”
This kind of news definitely helps boost my morale, and I think it probably does for millions of girls around the world.
- Alzheimer’s Research is Leaping Forward
If you’ve ever known someone who suffered from Alzheimer’s, then you know it’s a bad way to go. I’ve seen firsthand how heartbreaking it is. But thanks to the relentless grind of scientific progress, we can hope for a future in which there is treatment, and maybe someday even a cure.
A study earlier this year has led researchers to believe that the disease could possibly be detected years before the onset of symptoms. By way of a blood test. It’s all very medical, and I’m not a scientist, but I do have faith in science, and this news was an incredibly pleasant surprise.
- Diabetes Research is Leaping Forward
Speaking of faith in science, here’s a little more.
“In a first, scientists have turned human stem cells into insulin-producing cells, raising hope for a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Experts at the University of California, San Francisco, say they have created healthy, functioning beta cells in a Petri dish,” says Positive News.
This is a big deal, especially for diabetes sufferers in the U.S., where the cost of insulin has needlessly skyrocketed and put millions in a difficult (and dangerous) situation.
“This is a critical step towards our goal of creating cells that could be transplanted into patients with diabetes,” commented Matthias Hebrok, director of the UCSF Diabetes Center.
- Chief Theresa Kachindamoto has Annulled Over 3,500 Child Marriages
As chief of the Dedza District in the central region of Malawi, Theresa Kachindamoto has worked since her assumption of office in 2003 to outlaw child marriage, and she has been wonderfully successful. Through her tireless efforts, thousands of children have been rescued and sent back to school.
“Educate a girl and you educate the whole area,” she said, “You educate the world.”
A true hero.
- This year (2019) Botswana Decriminalized Homosexuality
Every country that takes this step is stepping into true progress. As information and activism spreads, this kind of good news is gradually increasing all over the world.
And you know what it means, ultimately? It means that millions of people get to wake up every day feeling safer and freer. It means a rise in human decency and compassion, and a decrease in harassment, a decrease in violence against those who are marginalized.
That’s a win for humans across the board.
- Global Executions are at an All Time Low
This old guillotine picture makes public execution look antiquated (and it is), but the truth is, it’s still a very real and modern problem. The good news is that it is slowly fading worldwide.
“The dramatic global fall in executions proves that even the most unlikely countries are starting to change their ways and realize the death penalty is not the answer,” said Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.
The path to nonviolence is always the right path when it comes to national policy. That’s what I believe. I could never comfortably call myself a pacifist, because that just wouldn’t be honest, but the death penalty is misused more often than it’s really worth, so things are going in the right direction.
- China will be Lifting a Law Requiring Animal Testing
Up to this point, China has legally required that cosmetics brands submit their products for animal testing before they could be sold. But starting in 2020, non-animal tests will be the preferred method.
“After years of lobbying,” says Positive News, “the Institute for In Vitro Sciences says the Chinese government has approved nine new alternative testing methods.”
In terms of curbing animal cruelty, this is huge.
- Body Positivity is On the Rise
Especially over the last year, I’ve noticed a significant rise in plus-size models. What’s more, thanks to social media, more and more of a dialogue is being created about the problem of “fat-phobia.” And that dialogue has gotten a lot more mainstream attention since Lizzo (above) became such a sensation–what a voice that woman has!
What a lot of us don’t realize is that larger individuals get treated horribly by our society, with limited access to clothing, and just a general sense of being viewed as “ugly” by their peers. Lizzo being so unapologetically confident has emboldened many others to speak up.
If you have Instagram, here are a few accounts that you should follow: @marielle.elizabeth, @hannah.senger, @tallulah_moon
I’ve learned a lot recently about this topic, and since I preach self-love so much, you better believe I’m on board.
“Access to clothing should not be a reward for thinness.” –@marielle.elizabeth
“I just took a DNA test; turns out I’m 100% that bitch.” –Lizzo
- Algeria and Argentina are Officially Malaria-Free
This last May, the World Health Organization announced that these countries have been officially rid of this terrible disease. There are now 38 countries and territories that have completely eliminated malaria, and there’s hope that those numbers will rise.
“Algeria has shown the rest of Africa that malaria can be beaten through country leadership, bold action, sound investment and science. The rest of the continent can learn from this experience,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa.
These things happen when people embrace scientific and medical advancement. By educating and otherwise spreading information, we are creating a healthier world population.
- Period. End of Sentence. Won an Oscar…and It’s a Big Deal
Period. End of Sentence. is a Netflix documentary about “period poverty,” particularly in rural India.
All over the world, including right here in the U.S., menstruation is commonly stigmatized as something unclean, and there is a huge percentage of girls and women who do not have access to basic needs like pads and tampons. Because of this, people who menstruate often miss school, making their access to education unequal.
The documentary, which won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short (2019), draws attention to this crisis, and raising awareness on that kind of level is a huge step in the right direction–especially since it’s an issue usually deemed taboo to even talk about.
“I can’t believe a film about menstruation just won an Oscar!” said the film’s director, Rayka Zehtabchi in her acceptance speech. She was joined on stage by producer Melissa Berton and the rest of their team.
By the way, Rayka Zehtabchi is only 25!
- A Coalition of Mayors is Adhering to the Green New Deal
If you were disappointed or anxious when the U.S. pulled out of the Paris Accord, I can tell you that there is a silver lining.
Even when our country took a step back, nearly 100 mayors stepped up, pledging to follow the Green Deal guidelines in their cities. In more than 30 of these cities, emissions have already fallen below local peaks, and with no noticeable decline in their economies.
It can be done, and it’s being proven all over the world. With every success, there is hope that the rest of the world will catch up.
- There Has Been a Major Breakthrough in Aids Prevention
In May, research was published in regards to HIV, and it has been found that antiretroviral treatment can prevent sexual transmission of the disease. In the study, subjects who were HIV positive and receiving the treatment did not transmit the virus to their partners. In fact, there were no cases of transmission over the span of eight years!
“Such is the success of the medicine,” researchers said, “that if everyone with HIV was fully treated, there would be no further infections.”
HIV/Aids has been such a terrifying global problem, and to know that this amount of progress is being made–and so many lives being saved because of it–is one of the most reassuring bits of news I’ve heard in a long time.
- The Black Mambas Exist
These badass women make up the Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit, established in 2013 and responsible for protecting the entirety of Balule Nature Reserve in South Africa. Their work is difficult and dangerous, and absolutely critical for saving rhinos in particular.
The ivory trade has been in decline lately, and thanks to the valiant efforts of brave individuals like the Black Mambas, it will hopefully only continue to decline.
- Steve Irwin’s Kids are Doing Great
When I was a kid, I was so inspired by Steve Irwin. Watching the Crocodile Hunter was, for me, the start of what became a lifelong love for animals and the natural world. When Steve tragically died in 2006, I was in the 8th grade, and I still remember it all too well.
But his two beautiful children, Bindi (21) and Robert (16), have grown up into everything we could have ever hoped. They are taking the reins of their dad’s legacy with the same wild enthusiasm that Steve always had, and I know in my heart that wildlife conservation will thrive under their leadership.
Bindi recently got engaged, which was a really sweet story, and Robert…
It is truly uncanny how much he takes after Steve. It honestly brings tears to my eyes. Above is a photo comparison he posted on Instagram with the caption, “Dad and me feeding Murray… same place, same croc–two photos 15 years apart.”
I loved Steve Irwin–millions of people did around the world–and to see his children doing so well and growing up to be so much like him, it’s one of the most heartwarming things I can think of.
If you haven’t had the chance to watch their new show, Crikey! It’s the Irwins on Animal Planet, you definitely need to.
The biggest reason I wrote this post was honestly to help myself. I’ve been in a major slump, and writing this meant several hours of research–for things that make me happy. Basically, I forced myself to comb through and absorb a ton of good news.
It’s out there. It’s just a little harder to see sometimes.
I hope that my search this week has lifted your spirits as well. And I wish you all the very best this holiday season.
Merry Christmas Eve Eve!
Have a beautiful week.