Smiling Woman

Boy, we could all use a little happiness in our day. People are disgruntled, tired, angry and depressed. We lost hope that humanity is not capable of anything beneficial. Here is the thing, though. Your happiness is contingent on the choices that you make in life. You can choose to listen to the bad news going on in the world or you can make the decision to listen to the good news (and yes, it does exist!). Sometimes we need to look harder to uncover what good stories are out there. You don't have to give people or the world your joy! You have a part in this as well. Offer kindness, a smile or a hug. By being a giver you release a power that is greater than yourself and the exterior world. Meanwhile, allow the following feel-good stories to rekindle your hope today.

How one woman overcame bullying.

Cyberbullies called Lizzie Velásquez the "Internet’s Ugliest Person" because she has a rare congenital disease called "marfanoid–progeroid–lipodystrophy syndrome" that affects her heart, eyes, bones and doesn't allow her to gain weight. As heartbreaking as the bullying was, she rose above her enemies and didn't allow cynicism to rule her life or happiness. "If you get knocked down, you get back up. Because that's been my mindset, I think that's been the key to how I've been able to get where I am today," she said. Today Velásquez is in high demand, has authored books and travels the globe as a motivational speaker. 

All kids are special.

Teacher Chris Ulmer runs Special Books for Special Kids, where he shares stories of special needs children with the world through video interviews via his Facebook page. He interviews children coping with conditions like Down syndrome and other disabilities. He talks with them about their viewpoint and it's fascinating to watch what the answers are, even if the children can't verbally articulate their emotions. Every interview is used to reveal the beauty in all our differences."No matter their level of communication, some are verbal, some are nonverbal, that doesn't matter," he shared with ABC World News. "That's not indicative of intelligence. Everybody is understanding the world in their own way and through these videos--you can see that in each one."

Finding true forgiveness.

A Philadelphia man was exonerated of murder after being in prison for 24 years. Shaurn Thomas was convicted of shooting a man during a robbery at the age of 16 and was sentenced to life without parole. "This is a man who has not only been proclaiming his innocence but has been doing everything he can to prove it," Marissa Bluestine, who is executive director of the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, told CBS Philly. "This is one of those cases that should not have gone to trial, but unfortunately it did." Thomas doesn't have the time to carry hostilities against those who prosecuted him. Life is too short to be burdened with unforgiveness and time is valuable. “I feel wonderful, a free man. I can't feel any better. Hey man, just got to believe in God, and have the right legal team, and keep fighting,” he said. “I don’t get no animosity towards nobody. Life’s too short for that. You can’t get it back. I just move on forward. It’s a tragedy that happened to me, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.”

Breaking down barriers.

Rebekah Marine was born with Symbrachydactyly, a congenital abnormality. The condition resulted in her not having a forearm. That didn't stop her from living out her dream to be a model. “As a kid, I always wanted to model. I really enjoyed being in front of the camera. I was really such a ham,” she shared with Daily Beast. She already walked in New York Fashion Week and is an advocate for the Lucky Fin Project, which aims to raise awareness and support for those with an “upper limb difference." Marine became self-conscious about her arm until she received a prosthesis. This really encouraged her to move forward in becoming a model. Yet, there are still bad days. “I thought my portfolio was strong, and I had a good message behind it, but they quickly passed on me,” she says. “My image isn’t for everyone; I’ve accepted that.”

Making an amends.

Reverend Michael Sullivan of the Nicholtown Presbyterian Church in South Carolina received a letter from an anonymous sender. The letter was enclosed with a check for $2,000. The writer said that he used to be a terrible racist. "Due to Christ’s teachings, I am appalled at my former thoughts and words. I send this donation as a heartfelt apology to the African-American community as a sign of God’s love for you and as a sign of my love for you as well.” Sullivan said he was touched by the letter. "Whether we are talking black or white [or] whether we are talking about Christian or Islamic – if we can hear the heart of this man as being a heart that represents all of us, I think all of us can become better,” he added.

Where are all the good stories? We know that contention sells and good news doesn't for the most part because it's not as ostentatious. Keep your heart open and look at the miracles that are around you daily. Start doing your own acts of kindness. Drop an encouraging note, smile at a stranger or be willing to make a difference in your community. Maybe, one day, your story will inspire others. In the meantime, filter out the negativity and choose to find the good news in the world.
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