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Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

This week's list includes some adorable animals, some delightful dancing, and a beautiful example of human connection.

smiley, happy, joy

Upworthy's weekly roundup of joy.

It's officially December—can you believe it? That means 2022 is almost a wrap, which is wild. I mean, wasn't it just 2020?!?

For many people, December is the season of joy and giving and holiday gatherings, but it can also be a lonely or stressful time for some of our fellow humans. Family isn't a source of comfort for everyone, unfortunately, and challenges with relationships or finances can make for a difficult December. As we reflect on the past year and prepare for the new one, let's all commit to treating one another with an extra dose of kindness.

Let's also remember to celebrate small joys as the days get colder and shorter, like the coziness of a cup of hot cocoa, the sweetness of a child's laughter or the companionship of our furry friends. It's often a large collection of little things that add up to a good life, and thankfully, small joys are cheap and plentiful.


This week's list of things that made us smile is full of joys large and small, starting with some adorable animals and ending with some happy, helpful humans. We hope it brings a smile (or 10) to your face as you head through the weekend.

1. Human teaches doggo to rebound the basketball and doggo is pretty much a pro.

That is one smart and very fit dog. Look how excited they are to be helpful.

2. This bird playing peek-a-boo behind a LaCroix can is too cute.

It never gets old.

3. Cats having holiday photos taken should always be a thing, please and thank you.

Seriously, I need everyone who has a cat to have wreath photos done. These turned out so great.

4. Boy gets a surprise puppy and oof the emotion of it all.

Who's got the tissues? I need tissues.

5. Prairie dog politely makes it known that it wants more pets, please.

That little paw raise. Goodness.

6. The Rock returns to a 7-11 he used to steal Snickers bars from and makes things right.

"We can't change the past and some of the dumb stuff we may have done, but every once in a while we can add a little redeeming grace note to that situation — and maybe put a big smile on some strangers' faces." Love it. Read the full story here.

7. Billie Jean remix + awesome choreography to go with it = delightful.

So good. A shorter version of this video from Isaiah Shinn went viral on Instagram this summer, but this extended version is even better.

8. Elderly couple gets married in the mayonnaise aisle, right where they first met last year.

How sweet is that? Read the full story here.

9. This family's reaction to one of their own passing the California bar exam is just contagious joy.

These family celebrations never get old.

10. American soccer player hugs an emotional Iranian opponent after their match-up at the World Cup.

@upworthy

This is the true power of sports ⚽️❤️

There was a lot of political stuff that went along with this match, but sports are supposed to bring people together. This moment when Antonee Robinson hugged Iranian opponent Ramin Rezaeian at the end of the game says it all. (And in fact, there were several similar moments of human-to-human connection and comfort between the opposing teams after the game.) So beautiful.

Hope that brought some joy to your heart! Come back next week for another roundup of smileworthy finds and if you'd like to have them delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our free newsletter, The Upworthiest.

Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash

Gen Z is navigating a career landscape unlike any other.

True

Every adult generation has its version of a “kids these days” lament, labeling the up-and-coming generation as less resilient or hardworking compared to their own youth. But Gen Z—currently middle school age through young adulthood—is challenging that notion with their career readiness.

Take Abigail Sanders, an 18-year-old college graduate. Thanks to a dual enrollment program with her online school, she actually earned her bachelor’s degree before her high school diploma. Now she’s in medical school at Bastyr University in Washington state, on track to become a doctor by age 22.

a family of 6 at a graduation with two graduatesAll four of the Sanders kids have utilized Connections Academy to prepare for their futures.

Abigail’s twin sister, Chloe, also did dual enrollment in high school to earn her associate’s in business and is on an early college graduation path to become a vet tech.

Maeson Frymire dreams of becoming a paramedic. He got his EMT certification in high school and fought fires in New Mexico after graduation. Now he’s working towards becoming an advanced certified EMT and has carved his career path towards flight paramedicine.

Sidny Szybnski spends her summers helping run her family’s log cabin resort on Priest Lake in Idaho. She's taken business and finance courses in high school and hopes to be the third generation to run the resort after attending college.

log cabin resort on edge of forestAfter college, Sidny Szybnski hopes to run her family's resort in Priest Lake, Idaho.

Each of these learners has attended Connections Academy, tuition-free online public schools available in 29 states across the U.S., to not only get ready for college but to dive straight into college coursework and get a head start on career training as well. These students are prime examples of how Gen Zers are navigating the career prep landscape, finding their passions, figuring out their paths and making sure they’re prepared for an ever-changing job market.

Lorna Bryant, the Head of Career Education for Connections Academy’s online school program, says that Gen Z has access to a vast array of career-prep tools that previous generations didn’t have, largely thanks to the internet.

“Twenty to 30 years ago, young people largely relied on what adults told them about careers and how to get there,” Bryant tells Upworthy. “Today, teens have a lot more agency. With technology and social media, they have access to so much information about jobs, employers and training. With a tap on their phones, they can hear directly from people who are in the jobs they may be interested in. Corporate websites and social media accounts outline an organization’s mission, vision and values—which are especially important for Gen Z.”

Research shows over 75% of high schoolers want to focus on skills that will prepare them for in-demand jobs. However, not all teens know what the options are or where to find them. Having your future wide open can be overwhelming, and young people might be afraid of making a wrong choice that will impact their whole lives.

Bryant emphasizes that optimism and enthusiasm from parents can help a lot, in addition to communicating that nothing's carved in stone—kids can change paths if they find themselves on one that isn’t a good fit.

Dr. Bryant and student video meeting Dr. Bryant meeting with a student

“I think the most important thing to communicate to teens is that they have more options than ever to pursue a career,” she says. “A two- or four-year college continues to be an incredibly valuable and popular route, but the pathways to a rewarding career have changed so much in the past decade. Today, career planning conversations include options like taking college credit while still in high school or earning a career credential or certificate before high school graduation. There are other options like the ‘ships’—internships, mentorships, apprenticeships—that can connect teens to college, careers, and employers who may offer on-the-job training or even pay for employees to go to college.”

Parents can also help kids develop “durable skills”—sometimes called “soft” or “human” skills—such as communication, leadership, collaboration, empathy and grit. Bryant says durable skills are incredibly valuable because they are attractive to employers and colleges and transfer across industries and jobs. A worldwide Pearson survey found that those skills are some of the most sought after by employers.

“The good news is that teens are likely to be already developing these skills,” says Bryant. Volunteering, having a part-time job, joining or captaining a team sport can build durable skills in a way that can also be highlighted on college and job applications.

Young people are navigating a fast-changing world, and the qualities, skills and tools they need to succeed may not always be familiar to their parents and grandparents. But Gen Z is showing that when they have a good grasp of the options and opportunities, they’re ready to embark on their career paths, wherever they may lead.

Learn more about Connections Academy here and Connections’ new college and career prep initiative here.

Joy

Sorry, Labradors. After 31 years, America has a new favorite dog.

The American Kennel Club has crowned a new favorite.

via Pixabay

A sad-looking Labrador Retriever

The sweet-faced, loveable Labrador Retriever is no longer America’s favorite dog breed. The breed best known for having a heart of gold has been replaced by the smaller, more urban-friendly French Bulldog.

According to the American Kennel Club, for the past 31 years, the Labrador Retriever was America’s favorite dog, but it was eclipsed in 2022 by the Frenchie. The rankings are based on nearly 716,500 dogs newly registered in 2022, of which about 1 in 7 were Frenchies. Around 108,000 French Bulldogs were recorded in the U.S. in 2022, surpassing Labrador Retrievers by over 21,000.

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Jack Black does impression of The Rock.

I don't know what it is about impersonations that are so fascinating to people but they're often hilarious, and Jack Black impersonating The Rock does not disappoint. From the 2018 clip you can't tell what prompted the impersonation but "Screen Junkies" interviewer looks to Black and asks him about his workout routine as if he's Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.

The comedian adjusts himself in his seat and doesn't break character the entire time and somehow the interviewer is able to maintain a serious face throughout the process. Kevin Hart and the actual Dwayne Johnson cannot keep it together while Black does his impression of his co-star.

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On May 28, 2014, 13-year-old Athena Orchard of Leicester, England, died of bone cancer. The disease began as a tumor in her head and eventually spread to her spine and left shoulder. After her passing, Athena's parents and six siblings were completely devastated. In the days following her death, her father, Dean, had the difficult task of going through her belongings. But the spirits of the entire Orchard family got a huge boost when he uncovered a secret message written by Athena on the backside of a full-length mirror.

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A Korean mother and her son

A recently posted story on Reddit shows a mother confidently standing up for her family after being bullied by a teacher for her culture. Reddit user Flowergardens0 posted the story to the AITA forum, where people ask whether they are wrong in a specific situation.

Over 5,600 people commented on the story, and an overwhelming majority thought the mother was right. Here’s what went down:

“I (34F) have a (5M) son who attends preschool. A few hours after I picked him up from school today, I got a phone call from his teacher,” Flowergardens0 wrote. “She made absolutely no effort to sound kind when she, in an extremely rude and annoyed tone, told me to stop packing my son such ‘disgusting and inappropriate’ lunches."

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Science

When these drones zoom in over elephants and rhinos, they stop horrible things from happening.

A shepherd watches over sheep. Watching over elephants and rhinos? Not so easy.

via The Lindbergh Foundation

Drone footage from the Aerial Shepherd.


This is a story about something really exciting.

Before I get into it, let me set the stage by explaining the terrible problem it's solving.

10 years.

That's how long it'll be until the last wild elephants and rhinoceroses are gone.

100 of them are killed every day by poachers.

Even though elephants and rhinos are legally protected, the amount of money that can be made from the ivory in their tusks is just too much for some people to resist.

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Identity

Homosexuality in the Bible: Here's what six passages say and how to interpret them.

The video does a really great job of contextualizing each reference.

Image from YouTube video.

Looking into the text of the Bible.


Matthew Vines' "God and the Gay Christian” video at the bottom of this article analyses six passages related to homosexuality in the Bible. It does a really great job of contextualizing each reference (because we all know that Scriptures out of context can cause misinterpretation at best and d-r-a-m-a at worst).

We've also broken down each reference to homosexuality in the Bible here:

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