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Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

From cutie-pie kiddos to a Kevin Bacon Christmas song, here's this week's roundup of joy.

joy, kids, camel

Kids and camels and Kevin Bacon in this week's roundup of joy.

With another year almost in the bag, it's a natural time of reflection for a lot of us. What did we learn this year? How did we grow? What are we grateful for?

Some might be thinking about loss, grieving loved ones who have passed away. Some may have gone through big transitions this year and are reeling from the change. Some might look back with a realization that they want next year to be different, feeling resolved to take the steps necessary to build the life they envision.

In any year, there are moments we want to cherish and moments we don't want to relive. It's all part of the complex reality of being human—the ups and the downs, the good with the bad, the yin balancing the yang.


But what we focus on matters. When we celebrate the good, we nurture a mindset of optimism that can spill over into all parts of our lives. It's easy to point to everything that's bad and become a cynic. But when we shift our focus to the good, we find hope and faith in humanity again and again. And that can make a world of difference.

Here's a sampling of good to get you going:

1. Mom gets an unexpected expression of love from her sweet son with a speech delay.

@jaylabrenae5

It’s an even sweeter moment for me knowing I used to pray for the days my son could tell me he loved me due to him being speech delayed. I’m in awe right now😭❤️ #momlife #sahm #mommoments #sweetestboy #toddlertalk #beautifulmoments

"It’s an even sweeter moment for me knowing I used to pray for the days my son could tell me he loved me due to him being speech delayed," wrote Jayla. "I’m in awe right now.😭❤️" We are right there with you, Mama.

2. Baby tries pho for the first time and his reaction is 100% relatable.

@brookestersandmommy

10/10 recommended by Hendrix 🤣 #babyboy #pho #firsttime #baby

Pho for the win. Every time. (And baby named Hendrix? Also 10/10.)

3. This Army vs. Navy drumline battle is just nonstop awesome.

Drumlines are fun, but drumline battles are epic. Read the full story and watch last year's battle as well here.

4. Kevin Bacon and Old 97's have gifted us with the Christmas song of the season.

Kevin Bacon has been entertaining us musically throughout the pandemic, even singing Beyoncé with a bunch of goats. "Here It Is Christmastime" from "The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special" is just icing on our Kevin Bacon cake.

See the scene from the special and learn how the song came about here.

5. She looked worried searching for her family, but when she spotted them it was pure joy.

That wee one's face lit up like a Christmas tree. A sweet reminder that showing up matters. Read the full story here.

6. Liquor store employee sees a man without shoes and immediately gives him the Jordans off her feet.

Ta Leia Thomas is known in her community for her kindness, but this spontaneous sacrificial act is just the best. Read the full story here.

7. Baby gets glasses for the first time and her reaction is priceless.

@kaseysimpson6

#trend #foryoupage❤️❤️ #blind #littlesister #firsttimeseeing #blowthisup #blindnessawareness #tikkok

Anyone who wears glasses can understand that moment of WOW. I remember thinking, "Wait, people can actually see blades of grass?" when I got my first pair of glasses. Clear sight is something we simply can't take for granted.

8. Throwback to this 3-year-old drumming prodigy who wipes his nose and drops his stick while barely missing a beat.

The kid is Russian drum prodigy Lyonya Shilovsky and the video is from when, at age 3, he impressively led an entire orchestra in a part of Offenbach's "Orpheus in the Underworld" called "Galop infernal"—better known as "the cancan."(Shilovsky is now 13 and still playing percussion.)

9. A little girl asked L.A. County Animal Control for approval to keep a unicorn in her yard. They responded with an official unicorn license and more.

Click the arrows to scroll all the way through. Absolutely delightful response to an adorable young citizen.

10. May we all be as joyful about the weather as Albert the camel is when seeing snow for the first time.

@ranchograndeojai

Snow camel walks with the goats #ranchograndeojai #ranchoojai #ojai ##ranch #camel #goats #snowdrop

Didn't even know a camel could hippity hop like that. Yay, Albert.

Hope you found some smiles here! Come back next week for more! (And if you'd like to get these posts delivered to your inbox so you never miss them, join our free Upworthiest newsletter here.)

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Scientists tested 3 popular bottled water brands for nanoplastics using new tech, and yikes

The results were alarming—an average of 240,000 nanoplastics per 1 liter bottle—but what does it mean for our health?

Suzy Hazelwood/Canva

Columbia University researchers tested bottled water for nanoplastics and found hundreds of thousands of them.

Evian, Fiji, Voss, SmartWater, Aquafina, Dasani—it's impressive how many brands we have for something humans have been consuming for millennia. Despite years of studies showing that bottled water is no safer to drink than tap water, Americans are more consuming more bottled water than ever, to the tune of billions of dollars in bottled water sales.

People cite convenience and taste in addition to perceived safety for reasons they prefer bottle to tap, but the fear factor surrounding tap water is still a driving force. It doesn't help when emergencies like floods cause tap water contamination or when investigations reveal issues with lead pipes in some communities, but municipal water supplies are tested regularly, and in the vast majority of the U.S., you can safely grab a glass of water from a tap.

And now, a new study on nanoplastics found in three popular bottled water brands is throwing more data into the bottled vs. tap water choice.

Researchers from Columbia University used a new laser-guided technology to detect nanoplastics that had previously evaded detection due to their miniscule size. The new technology can detect, count and analyze and chemical structure of nanoparticles, and they found seven different major types of plastic: polyamide, polypropylene, polyethylene, polymethyl methacrylate, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate.

In contrast to a 2018 study that found around 300 plastic particles in an average liter of bottled water, the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January of 2024 found 240,000 nanoplastic particles per liter bottle on average between the three brands studied. (The name of the brands were not indicated in the study.)

As opposed to microplastics, nanoplastics are too small to be seen by microscope. Their size is exactly why experts are concerned about them, as they are small enough to invade human cells and potentially disrupt cellular processes.

“Micro and nanoplastics have been found in the human placenta at this point. They’ve been found in human lung tissues. They’ve been found in human feces; they’ve been found in human blood,” study coauthor Phoebe Stapleton, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy told CNN Health,

We know that nanoplastics are making their way into our bodies. We just don't have enough research yet on what that means for our health, and we still have more questions than answers. How many nanoplastics does it take to do damage and/or cause disease? What kinds of damage or disease might they cause? Is whatever effect they might have cumulative? We simply don't have answers to these questions yet.

That's not to say there's no cause for concern. We do know that certain levels of microplastic exposure have been shown to adversely affect the viability of cells. Nanoplastics are even smaller—does that mean they are more likely to cause cellular damage? Science is still working that out.

According to Dr. Sara Benedé of the Spanish National Research Council’s Institute of Food Science Research, it's not just the plastics themselves that might cause damage, but what they may bring along with them. “[Microparticles and nanoparticles] have the ability to bind all kinds of compounds when they come into contact with fluids, thus acting as carriers of all kinds of substances including environmental pollutants, toxins, antibiotics, or microorganisms,” Dr. Benedé told Medical News Today.

Where is this plastic in water coming from? This study focused on bottled water, which is almost always packaged in plastic. The filters used to filter the water before bottling are also frequently made from plastic.

Is it possible that some of these nanoplastics were already present in the water from their original sources? Again, research is always evolving on this front, but microplastics have been detected in lakes, streams and other freshwater sources, so it's not a big stretch to imagine that nanoplastics may be making their way into freshwater ecosystems as well. However, microplastics are found at much higher levels in bottled water than tap water, so it's also not a stretch to assume that most of the nanoplastics are likely coming from the bottling process and packaging rather than from freshwater sources.

The reality is, though, we simply don't know yet.

“Based on other studies we expected most of the microplastics in bottled water would come from leakage of the plastic bottle itself, which is typically made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic,” lead author Naixin Qian, a doctoral student in chemistry at Columbia University, told CNN Health. “However, we found there’s actually many diverse types of plastics in a bottle of water, and that different plastic types have different size distributions. The PET particles were larger, while others were down to 200 nanometers, which is much, much smaller.”

We need to drink water, and we need to drink safe water. At this point, we have plenty of environmental reasons for avoiding bottled water unless absolutely necessary and opting for tap water instead. Even if there's still more research to be done, the presence of hundreds of thousands of nanoplastics in bottled water might just be another reason to make the switch.

Image from YouTube video.

What is your biggest regret?

"Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh."

—Henry David Thoreau

No one escapes this world without a regret or two.

Time and time again, when we hear the final regrets of the dying, they're not about wishing they'd made money or worked more hours.

They're almost always about wishing they had the self-confidence to pursue their dreams or the time to stay in touch with loved ones.

community, culture, honesty, collaboration, art

Here are some thoughts on the subject.

Image from YouTube video.

Recently, A Plus in partnership with Strayer University's Ideal Year Initiative, put up a chalkboard on a New York City street and asked passersby to write down their biggest regrets. The people who wrote on the blackboard were from different walks of life, but their regrets were alarmingly similar.

Watch the full video below:

This article first appeared on 9.16.17

An old Disney World ticket.

Matthew Ables’ family had a Magic Kingdom coupon book from 1978 sitting in a desk drawer and he thought it was an old souvenir.

"It's been collecting dust since before I was born and I always assumed it was an old family keepsake until I realized that it's never been used and there's no expiration date," he said while inspecting the ticket book with a magnifying glass, in a TikTok video with over 9 million views.

“Which means I've either found the golden ticket here, or I'm delusional thinking that the Mouse is going to let me use it to get inside nearly half a century later,” he continued.

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Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
selective focal photo of crayons in yellow box

It's back-to-school time (yaaassss!), but that means it's also the time when you have to tackle those super-long, super-specific school supply lists (uggghhhh!).

You know what I'm talking about — the 15-plus-items-long list of things your kids need for school.

As a bonus, they're often brand-name specific. Seriously. Because Elmer's glue is apparently just that different from generic store brand glue.

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Photo by Jackie Cook/MyLondon Photography Contest.

Many locks of bright, pink hair peek around the corner of the stairwell.


A group of 105 homeless people gathered at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

Each of them was given a disposable camera and told to take pictures that represent "my London."

The photos were entered in an annual contest run by London-based nonprofit Cafe Art, which gives homeless artists the chance to have their work displayed around the city and, for some of the photographers who participate in the yearly challenge, in a print calendar.

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via Analysees Consulting / Twitter

Callum Manning and his favorite books.

There are few more fulfilling hobbies than having a love of books.

Reading isn't just a great way to have a good time. Reading increases brain connectivity, makes people more empathetic, reduces depression symptoms, improves vocabulary, and may even cause you to live longer.

It's a huge benefit for a child's development as well. According to Parent.com, reading "stimulates the side of the brain that helps with mental imagery, understanding, and language processing, and that brain activity."

Sure beats wasting time playing video games.


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