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10 things that made us smile this week

This week's roundup of joy and delight.

10 things that made us smile this week

Upworthy's weekly roundup of joy.

This week, the team here at Upworthy had the incredible honor of meeting one of humanity's best. Civil rights leader and nonviolence educator Reverend Dr. James M. Lawson, who worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis to change the course of American history, came to our office and shared some of his wisdom with us.

At 93, Rev. Lawson has experienced the range of our nation's ups and downs. He has also witnessed the power of people coming together for good. When asked where people should start, he shared the importance of community as a catalyst for change. We can all build community no matter where live, starting with our own families and neighborhoods, our social circles, groups and organizations we belong to, and beyond.


Sometimes, building community looks like big, bold initiatives, but more often it looks like creating simple connections—engaging in small acts of service, reaching out with a kind word or sharing a warm smile. When we consistently look for ways to connect and build bonds between people, we'll find them.

One thing that brings people together, pretty much universally, is joy. “Laughter is the closest distance between two people," as musician and comedian Victor Borge wrote, but we don't even have to laugh out loud to connect. When we experience something joy-inducing as a collective, we create a shared experience that taps into our basic humanity and reminds us of what we have in common.

As you enjoy this week's list of 10 things that made us smile, picture all of the people who are experiencing the same smiles and laughter you are. Let's create a virtual community of joy, right here in this moment.

1. We have a new, incredible view of our universe—or at least a tiny-yet-ginormous piece of it.

This image from the Webb telescope, the largest telescope in human history, gives us a never-before-seen view of space—or at least a tiny sliver of it. According to Vox, what's captured in this image is the equivalent of a grain of sand being held out at arm's length if you were looking at the night sky, which is mind-blowing considering the fact that almost all of the blobs in the image are entire galaxies. Wowsers.

2. The vastness of the universe is amazing, but so is a tiny butterfly on a tiny human.

@amarana91

Miggin found BLUTTAFLY… you will not regret watching this ☺️🥹 #fyp #butterfly #cute

"Are you okay bluttafly?" STAHP IT.

3. The American Rescue Dog Show celebrates unique doggos with adorable prizes like Best in Belly Rubs, Best in Snoring and Best in Underbite.

Instead of the pedigree, grooming and training that the Westminster Dog Show highlights, the American Rescue Dog Show celebrates the average adopted doggo's sweet quirks. Check out the full story here.

4. Anthropologist Grover Krantz donated his body to science on one condition—that his dog be included.

“I’ve been a teacher all my life,” Krantz told the Smithsonian, “and I think I might as well be a teacher after I’m dead, so why don’t I just give you my body.” It's true.

5. This kid is having the best sleep of his life—or anyone's life, for that matter.

Pretty sure this is what heaven looks like. Gracious.

6. Little Luca cheering for US women's soccer star Alex Morgan— ("Aleh Morgaaaaan!") is the cutest thing everrrrr.

Toddler fans are the best fans. And the Ted Lasso shirt is just a cherry on top of this little sundae of delight. Read the full story here.

7. A guy asked for 104 birthday wishes for his dad who was turning 104. He got thousands.

Gerald got bombarded with birthday messages from all over the world, but there's something about this preemie newborn baby wishing a 104-year-old man a happy birthday that feels so beautiful. Gerald and Flora out here making us smile about the full circle of life. Love it.

8. A man surprised his parents after being away for three years and his mom's reaction is so precious.

There's nothing like a mother's love. (Somebody pass the tissue box, please.)

9. This guy's engagement ring shenanigans leading up to his proposal were hilariously adorable.

Click the right arrow to scroll through. The one with the ring in the palm of her hand while she's sleeping is just too much.

10. May your day be as blissful as this chihuahua being bathed with toothbrushes.

That tongue sticking out! Apparently being washed with a toothbrush reminds them of being bathed by their mom. I can't handle it. May we all be so pampered.

If this roundup made you smile or laugh or both, create more bonds of joy by passing it along. And definitely come back next Friday for another top 10 for the week!

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Three women, three MS journeys: How multiple sclerosis looks different for everyone

Gina, Nathalie and Helga share their reactions to being diagnosed with MS and how they stay informed and positive in the face of ever-changing symptoms.

Courtesy of Sanofi

Helga, Nathalie and Gina all have MS, and their experiences show how differently the disease can manifest.

True

It’s been 155 years since neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot gave the first lecture on a mysterious progressive illness he called “multiple sclerosis.” Since then, we’ve learned a lot. We know MS causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue, including damaging the brain and spinal cord. Resulting symptoms can be debilitating and include fatigue, blurred vision, memory problems and weakness. Huge advancements in our understanding of MS and its underlying causes, as well as treatment advances, have been made in the past few decades, but MS remains a complex and unpredictable reality for the 2.8 million+ people diagnosed around the world.

Ironically, the only real constant for people living with MS is change. There’s no set pattern or standard progression of the disease, so each person’s experience is unique. Some people with MS have mild symptoms that worsen slowly but sometimes improve, while others can have severe symptoms that drastically alter their daily lives.

All people with MS share some things in common, however, such as the need to stay informed on the ever-evolving research, find various lines of support and try to remain hopeful as they continue living with the disease.

To better understand what navigating life with MS really looks like, three women shared their MS stories with us. Their journeys demonstrate how MS can look different for different people and interestingly, how the language used to talk about the disease can greatly impact how people understand their realities.

woman with horse, woman riding horseGina loves riding her horse, Benita.Courtesy of Sanofi

Gina—Hamburg, Germany (diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis in 2017)

When her youngest son was 4 months old, Gina started having problems with her eye. She’d soon learn she was experiencing optic neuritis—her first symptom of MS.

“Immediately after the diagnosis, I looked up facts on MS because I didn’t know anything about it,” Gina says. “And as soon as I knew what could really happen with this disease, I actually got scared.”

As her family’s primary income provider, she worried about how MS would impact her ability to work as a writer and editor. Her family was afraid she was going to end up in a wheelchair. However, for now, Gina’s MS is managed well enough that she still works full-time and is able to be active.

“When I tell somebody that I have MS, they often don't believe me the first time because I don't fulfill any stereotypes,” she says.

Overwhelmed by negative perspectives on living with MS, Gina sought support in the online MS community, which she found to be much more positive.

“I think it’s important to use as many positive words as you can when talking about MS.” It’s important to be realistic while also conveying hope, she says. “MS is an insidious disease that can cause many bad symptoms…that can be frightening, and you can't gloss over it, either.”

To give back to the online community that helped her so much, Gina started a blog to share her story and help others trying to learn about their diagnosis.

Though she deals with fatigue and cognitive dysfunction sometimes, Gina stays active swimming, biking, riding horses and playing with her sons, who are now 11 and 6.

Cognitive dysfunction is common in MS, with over half of people affected. It can impact memory, attention, planning, and word-finding. As with many aspects of MS, some people experience mild changes, while others face more challenges.

Gina says that while there’s still a lot of education about MS needed, she feels positive about the future of MS because there’s so much research being done.

woman in wheelchair holding medal, woman rowingNathalie is an award-winning rower with multiple international titles.Courtesy of Sanofi

Nathalie — Pennes Mirabeau, France (diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis in 2002)

Nathalie was a teenager and a competitive athlete when she noticed her first symptoms of MS, but it would take four years of “limbo” before she was diagnosed.

“Ultimately, the diagnosis was more of a relief, than a shock,” she says. “Because when you have signs and you don’t know why, it’s worse than knowing, in the end, what you have.”

However, learning more about the disease—and the realities of disease progression—scared her.

“That glimpse of the future was direct and traumatic,” she says. Her neurologist explained that the disease evolves differently for everyone, and her situation might end up being serious or very mild. So, she decided to stop comparing herself to others with MS.

She said to herself, “We’ll see what happens, and you’ll manage it bit by bit.”

By 2005, Nathalie’s MS had progressed to the point of needing a wheelchair. However, that has not dampened her competitive spirit.

Nathalie began her international rowing career in 2009 and has won multiple world titles, including two Paralympic medals—silver in London and bronze in Tokyo. Now, at 42, she still trains 11 times a week. Fatigue can be a problem, and sometimes hard workouts leave her with muscle stiffness and shaking, but she credits her ongoing sports career for helping her feel in tune with her body’s signals.

“Over the years, I’ve learned to listen to my body, letting my body guide when I need to stop and take breaks,” she says.

Nathalie explains that she used to only look backwards because of the initial shock of her diagnosis. In time, she stopped thinking about what she couldn’t do anymore and focused on her future. She now lives in the following mindset: “Even when doors close, don’t miss out on those that open.” Instead of focusing on what she can’t do, she focuses on the opportunities she still has. Right now, this includes her training for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris, where she will compete for another rowing medal.

“I only go forward,” she says. “Well, I try, anyway…It’s easy to say, it’s not always easy to do. But that’s what I try to do.”

woman exiting water after swimming, woman with great daneHelga's Great Dane has become a helpful and beloved companion.Courtesy of Sanofi

Helga—Johannesburg, South Africa (diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis in 2010)

When Helga first started having balance issues and numbness in her feet, she chalked it up to her training as a runner. But when the numbness moved to her face, she knew something was wrong. She never guessed it was MS.

“When I was diagnosed, I felt completely overwhelmed and clueless,” Helga says. “I felt that I had nowhere near enough information. I did not know anything about the disease…I had no idea that it was going to be a process of continually monitoring and adjusting your lifestyle.”

In the beginning, Helga’s symptoms developed slowly, and she didn’t appear ill to others. She was even able to run for a few years after her diagnosis, but she couldn’t do marathons anymore, and she began to fall frequently due to balance issues and right-foot dragging. Then her cognition issues became more problematic, especially in her job as a trainer in a printing company.

“My executive function, decision-making and short-term memory were affected to the point that I was eventually medically unfit for work,” she says. She stopped working in 2017.

However, she didn’t stop living life. Even though she could no longer run, she continued to swim competitively. She got a Great Dane puppy and trained him as a service dog to help her walk. She also serves as vice chair of the patient support organization Multiple Sclerosis South Africa, and she advises others who have been diagnosed to join a patient advocacy group as soon as possible to get reliable information and meet others with MS.

Helga says she is “hopeful” about the future of MS. “I must say that I am so grateful that we have all the new medications available, because my life would not be the same if it wasn't for that,” she adds.

Part of how she manages her MS is by looking at the positives.

“If I could tell the world one thing about MS, it would be that MS is an incurable disease of the nervous system, but it's also the greatest teacher of valuing your health, family, friends, and managing change in your life,” she says. “My life is diversified in a way that I never, ever thought it would, and MS has been honestly the greatest teacher.”

Each MS journey is unique – with each person impacted experiencing different struggles, successes, and feelings as they manage this unpredictable disease. But the common thread is clear – there is a critical need for information, support, and hope. We are proud to participate in World MS Day and share these incredible stories of living life while living with MS. To learn more about MS, go to https://www.sanofi.com/why-words-really-matter-when-it-comes-to-multiple-sclerosis.

MAT-GLB-2301642-v1.0-05/2023

This article was sponsored by Sanofi. Participants were compensated when applicable.

A woman is upset with her husband and wants to leave him.

There are a few big reasons why 70% of divorces in the United States among heterosexual couples are filed by women. Women have more economic opportunities than in decades past and are better positioned to care for themselves and their children without a husband’s income.

Another big reason is that even though the world has become much more egalitarian than in the past, women still bear the brunt of most of the emotional labor in the home. Gilza Fort-Martinez, a Florida, US-based licensed couples’ therapist, told the BBC that men are socialized to have lower emotional intelligence than women, leaving their wives to do most of the emotional labor.

Secondly, studies show that women still do most of the domestic work in the home, so many are pulling double duty for their households.

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More Americans are supportive of the LGBTQ community than ever.

There have been numerous high-profile controversies surrounding LGBTQ rights recently that make it appear as though there has been a considerable backlash in acceptance of the LGBTQ community among Americans.

There’s the Bud Light backlash after the popular beer brand used trans activist Dylan Mulvaney as a spokesperson. There was an uproar after the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to honor the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence on LGBTQ Pride Night. There has also been an ongoing controversy surrounding Target selling LGBTQ-friendly merchandise.

Clearly, if people are getting riled up over the normalization of LGBTQ culture throughout America, we must be amid a considerable backlash, right? In reality, the truth is the exact opposite.

A new poll by GLAAD has found that non-LGBTQ Americans are more accepting of the LGBTQ community than ever and want them to be treated like everyone else. So, even though there is a loud contingent of political activists pushing back against LGBTQ progress, they don’t seem to significantly impact the growing movement toward acceptance.

Simply put, the opposition to LGBTQ people may be loud, but it’s only getting smaller.

The survey of over 25,000 non-LGBTQ Americans found three encouraging facts:

  • A 96% supermajority of non-LGBTQ Americans agree that school should be a safe and accepting place for all youth.
  • A 91% supermajority of non-LGBTQ Americans agree that LGBTQ people should have the freedom to live their lives and not be discriminated against.
  • An 84% supermajority of non-LGBTQ Americans support equal rights for the LGBTQ community.

The study also found that despite outrage over Dylan Mulvaney appearing in a Bud Light promotion, the vast majority of Americans are okay with seeing LGBTQ people and families represented in the media.

This corresponds with the fact that on the 2021 to 2022 TV season nearly 12% of all regular characters on prime-time television were LGBTQ. That’s a sea change over the 2005 to 2006 report that found only 2% of all characters were LGBTQ.

  • 75% of non-LGBTQ adults feel comfortable seeing LGBTQ people in advertisements.
  • 73% of non-LGBTQ adults report feeling comfortable seeing LGBTQ characters included in TV shows or movies.
  • 68% of non-LGBTQ adults feel comfortable seeing an LGBTQ family with children included in an advertisement.

The strange state of affairs in America is that even though an increasing number of Americans want LGBTQ people to have equal rights, there has been a staggering number of new laws aimed at disenfranchising them that have been proposed over the past three years.

GLAAD estimates that over 500-plus anti-LGBTQ laws have been proposed in 2023 alone.

“Support for LGBTQ equality has reached an all-time high, but allyship must turn into action,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “Media, content creators, and corporate leaders need to lead and respond to hate with undeterred support for the LGBTQ community, including LGBTQ employees, shareholders and consumers. Allyship is not easy, but when values of diversity, equity, and inclusion are tested, we must defend them unequivocally."


A Golden Retriever taking a break on the floor.

If you’re having trouble meeting a romantic partner, research shows you could improve your chances by getting a dog. A 2020 YouGov study found that 50% of Americans would be more willing to date someone if they had a dog, while only 9% would be less willing to do so.

Women are more interested in meeting someone with a dog (54%) compared to 46% of men.

People are more attracted to dog lovers for a pretty simple reason. They assume that those who have dogs are better at having long-term relationships. “People might infer that a dog-walking man knows how to form lasting attachments, has the resources to care for someone else (dog ownership is expensive!), and is reliable enough to do the daily work involved with dog ownership,” Theresa E. DiDonato Ph.D. writes in Psychology Today.

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Man diagnosed as a sociopath answers people's questions.

The term "sociopath" is something that people don't often understand. The public's exposure to what a sociopath is generally comes from the media depictions, usually in some psychological thriller that portrays the villain as a manipulative, out-of-control killer. They slap the sociopath label on them either in the background information or through inference.

But what is a sociopath? For starters, it's not actually called "sociopath," though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably. The correct diagnosis is "antisocial personality disorder," and the Mayo Clinic defines it as, "a mental health condition in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others." While it's true that people who have this specific type of personality disorder often engage in criminal behavior, that doesn't mean they are going to be unpredictably violent.

Greg, a man who says he was diagnosed with sociopathy around the age of 21, sat down to answer people's questions about the disorder.

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@olivermillsn/TikTok

Some songs are meant to make you cry no matter what.

Though content creator Oliver Mills is no stranger to serenading viewers on his TikTok channel with his charming, laid-back "car-aoke" videos, he recently hit listeners right in the feels as he began unabashedly shedding tears while singing the iconic 90’s rock song (slash ultimate sad anthem) “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls.

In the caption of the raw, vulnerable video, Mills wrote, “Crying in the car is healing,” and included hashtags like #mentalhealthawareness, #mentalhealthmatters, and #mensmentalhealth.

The song was written by John Rzeznik for the movie “City Of Angels'' to convey the immortal protagonist’s willingness to give up eternal life for love. But despite the specific storyline, it touches on something universal—that aching feeling of yearning for love. Add to that Rzeznik’s passionate, wistful vocals, and oof, you’ve got the perfect song for the bittersweet beauty of love at all its stages. Really, it’s got something for everyone.

This was made all too clear as more and more people commented on Mill’s video sharing how the song had a similar effect on them.

“Glad we all cry to this song,” one person shared.

“This is such a good cry song. I approve,” another added. And still another shared that the song got them through their “darkest moments.” Hopefully we all have a song like that.

Watch:

@olivermillsn Crying in the car is healing #mentalhealth#mentalhealthmatters#therapy#mentalhealthawareness#mensmentalhealth#healing♬ original sound - Oliver Mills

At the very least, folks could agree that there was something especially soothing about crying in the car.

“Crying in the car alone at night hits different,” the top comment read.

One person even revealed that “I cry in my car everyday after work to just decompress.” Relatable.

And of course, people applauded Mills for being so open with his feelings.

“I love that the lyric was ‘I don’t want the world to see me’ yet you’re being so vulnerable here. Thanks for sharing.”

There’s really nothing like full-on ugly crying in your car as you sing your heart out to a tune that perfectly encapsulates what you're feeling. Tear-evoking music has a magical way of helping us viscerally connect with hard-to-process emotions. In particular, the emotions of sadness and awe, as discovered in a 2018 study from the University of North Carolina.

And the power of music is only magnified when we find ourselves driving alone, safe inside a mobile exoskeleton while out in the open—both protected and vulnerable at the same time. It’s honestly the perfect recipe for cathartic emotional release.

We all need to let our guard down every once in a while. Thank goodness healing is sometimes only a long commute and a good song away.

Little girl shocks her mom by pulling out a pocket full of worms

Kids will absolutely test all parts of your personality. Not out of malicious intent, but simply because kids are innocent and don't don't understand unspoken social rules, especially when they're very little. One of those seemingly common sense unspoken social rules is that you don't go to the nail salon with worms in your pockets.

Scratch that, you don't walk around with worms in your pocket, period. That is unless you're on a fishing boat and you're in charge of bait and you run out of room in the canister filled with worms. I mean, there are a lot of things that would have to come into play to make having worms in your pocket socially acceptable. But kids don't know that, and one little girl, Kylee Grace, gave her mom a shock after they left the nail salon one day.

In the video posted to TikTok, which has now gone mega-viral with over 11.5 million views, Kylee and her mom are walking down the sidewalk after getting their nails done. Jenae, the little girl's mom, asks her daughter if she has a worm in her pocket. Then things quickly get hilariously weird.

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