By: Dani Kessel
This year has been a doozy. There’s no question about it. Many people are struggling to stay positive as we go into the 245th day (as of writing) of the World Health Organization-declared global pandemic. I understand. There are so many bad things that have happened this year. Your negative emotions are absolutely valid. But, the brain’s negativity bias makes it tough to see or remember the positive things from this year. To help lift spirits a little and give hope, I’ve put together a list of 30 good stories and events from these past 11 months.
- Parasite was the first non-English language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars.
- Neil Heritage became the first above-the-knee amputee to successfully climb to the summit of the Matterhorn.
- Ugandan refugees partnered with World Vision and Hashtag Our Stories to receive smartphones and learn journalism skills so that they can share stories from the Bidibidi camp.
- Drive-in movie theaters made a comeback.
- Circus Roncalli will tour in 2021 continuing their 3-year practice of using incredible holographic animals. They’ve taken a strong stand against animal cruelty in the circus community.
- Harvey Weinstein was finally sentenced to prison for his atrocious sex crimes.
- In June, the top 10 books on the New York Times’s Combined Print & E-Book Nonfiction bestseller list were about racism and predominantly written by Black authors.
- The US voting turnout was the highest percentage since the 1900 election.
- One of the world’s greatest chefs, Massimo Bottura, recorded video tutorials for many recipes, including many classic Italian dishes. He released them for free on Instagram with the tag #KitchenQuarantine.
- Adam Castillejo became the second person in the world to be cured of HIV.
- The world discovered Wonderchicken, a fossil of the oldest modern bird known to mankind.
- Same-sex marriage was legalized in Costa Rica and Puebla, Mexico.
- Italians in quarantine sung together from balconies and played tennis across rooftops.
- According to a UK study, 41% of people reported an increase in leisure reading since the pandemic started.
- We are on track to see the fastest vaccine ever created (the previous record is 4 years for the mumps vaccine). Recent developments shouldn’t be taken as an indication that the pandemic is over; we aren’t out of the woods yet. We do have good reason to be hopeful though.
- Country music queen Dolly Parton partnered with well-known drag queen Nina West to launch the Kindness Is Queen line, all proceeds split between Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (giving free books to children 0-5 in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and The Republic of Ireland) and the Nina West Foundation (supporting LGBTQ+ youth and families).
- Livestreams and virtuals tours of zoos, aquariums, and animal sanctuaries have popped up all across the globe.
- New Delhi’s pollution levels dropped 60% from last year to this year.
- Professor Carlos Frank, a Durham University researcher who helped create the Cold Dark Matter theory, won the 2020 Paul Dirac Medal and Prize.
- A coral reef 500 meters (1600 feet) tall was discovered in the Great Barrier Reef. It’s the first of its size to be found in 120 years.
- Ashanti Palmer received a $400,000 scholarship to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York after graduating class valedictorian with perfect attendance from pre-k to graduation. She plans to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering and medicine while following the pre-med track.
- Videos of UFOs called “unidentified aerial phenomena” were released by the Pentagon.
- The origin of the sarsen stones at Stonehenge was discovered.
- A statue of Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B Anthony–renowned women’s rights leaders–was unveiled in Central Park, NYC, NY.
- Triathlete Diego Méntrida gave up his 3rd place win to James Teagle. Teagle was in a position to win the medal until he took the wrong turn at the very last stretch. Méntrida slowed his pace to allow Teagle to recover his rightful position in the race. Méntrida was awarded an honorary third place, both receiving the 300 prize money.
- Hamilton was released on Disney+.
- NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft landed on Bennu, a well-preserved astroid, and collected samples of primordial dust and pebbles which may have helped form Earth.
- With a desire to normalize rejection, Caitlin Kirby, Ph.D., created a pleated, tiered skirt from 17 of her printed-out rejection letters. She wore it to defend her doctoral dissertation.
- A performance artist and English professor named Brandon Woolf spent multiple hours a day, a few days a week for four weeks sitting on a Brooklyn sidewalk with a mask and a typewriter. He offered to write a free letter for anyone with a friend feeling down during the pandemic. He wrote more than 50 letters.
- On the UN’s 75th anniversary, a 50th nation signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, making it international law. Starting 22 January 2021, it will be illegal for any of the undersigned countries to own, create, or use any nuclear weapons.
These 30 positive stories brought some light to my world. I believe 2020 brought out the best and the worst in people. The little moments of joy and love and progress will help keep me going in the hardest moments. I hope they do the same for you.
Let’s start a thread of positivity in the comments below! What happy things have happened in your life this year? What successes have you had? What is making you smile?
Please share with us, and check back in later to read other folks’ stories.