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Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

Upworthy's weekly roundup of joy.

happy, smile, joy

Need a reason to smile? Here are 10 of them.

Why does music have such a strong impact on how we feel? It's literally just a series of sounds put together in a certain order. How can something so seemingly simple make us happy or sad or scared or melancholy?

Research shows that listening to intensely emotional music can tap into deep, evolutionarily ancient circuits in our brain. Our relationship with music stretches back throughout human history and when dopamine is released from those deep circuits, the result is pleasure.

According to a study from the British Academy of Sound Therapy, it takes 13 minutes of music to help us release pent-up sadness, and nine minutes of music to help us feel happy. (It also takes 13 minutes of music to relax and 13 minutes to focus, in case you were wondering.) Nine minutes. That's all it takes for music to work its happy magic on us.

Music really is magical, isn't it? So are animals and kids, which is why those three things make up 90% of this week's list of things that made us smile. Seriously, can anything make us happier faster than music, animals and kids?


Maybe a great story about a sweet old man. Cool, we've got one of those, too.

Each week, we offer a roundup of smileworthy content to lift people's spirits and brighten people's days. If you find yourself smiling, pass it along to share the joy with others.

1. This wee one jammin' out with his broken ukelele and his adorable smile.

Oh that little foot tap! Bop, little one, bop.

2. Jax's "Victoria's Secret" is just the body-positive summer anthem we need.

@jaxwritessongs

I wrote a song for The Kid I Babysit. It’s called Victoria’s Secret 🤫 ❤️ 👙 @TheLascherFamily #victoriassecret #fyp #bodypositivity #originalmusic

Once you get past the "too fat and too flat" rage, this video is the best. I'd buy this single, seriously. (Read the full story about how Victoria's Secret really was made up by a dude here.)

3. A guy thinks he's rescuing a kitten. Then they just keep on coming.

Holy moly. It's like kitten heaven and kitten hell all at once. Robert Brantley, the man who found them, has been posting updates on their adoptions. Read the full story here.

4. When the parrot he rescued walked for the first time, his reaction is pure gold.

Hope you were prepared for that unbridled joy. Phew.

5. Her voice blew her fellow audience members—and the judges—away on "America's Got Talent."

Who would expect that voice to come out of an 11-year-old? Wowsers. Congratulations, Maddie. Read the full story here.

6. The difference between a cat and a dog, perfectly summed up in one video.

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Same animals, two different videos. The doggo lying down so carefully so as not to disturb his friend, and the cat literally standing on the dog before booping him in the face. Hilarious.

7. Who knew Chewy had the most compassionate customer service ever?

People in the thread shared how Chewy sent them flowers—and sometimes even a portrait of their pet—when their pet passed away, and always told them to donate the food they had left rather than return it. Read the full story here.

8. He took his grandpa with dementia to a football game and it turned out to be a day to remember.

Alzheimer's is such a hard challenge, and a reminder to cherish the time that we have with our loved ones. What a wonderful gift to give grandpa.

Speaking of cherishing time with our loved ones…

9. This little brother is so excited to see his big sister he can barely contain his little self.

"I'm so happy!" So. Dang. Sweet.

10. An adorable reminder to slather on the sunscreen this weekend.

Oh, raccoon. Could you be more delightful? (And seriously, don't forget the sunscreen.)

Animals, kids and music, I tell you. They'll make you smile every time. Come back next week for another roundup of joy and delight and have a fabulous weekend!


Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

His message is making so many SAHMS feel seen.

Stay-at-home moms work round the clock performing myriad duties, both physically and emotionally demanding, all for zero compensation. But even more dismaying than the lack of monetary gain is the lack of recognition these full-time moms get for what they accomplish day in and day out.

That’s where Donald Schaefer comes in.

Schaefer, a man who seems to be upwards of 80 and living in Florida, is a bit of an unexpected influencer in the mom corner of social media. But nonetheless, his Instagram and TikTok are full of videos meant to offer financial tips, recipe ideas and emotional support specifically for this demographic.

One video in particular is making stay-at-home moms, aka SAHMs, feel so seen.


In his “special message to stay-at-home moms,” Schaefer offers SAHMS the rare gift of being told what an “incredible job” they’re doing, saying that their “dedication, hard work and love are the cornerstones of your family’s well being.”

Watching his daughters and granddaughters with kids, Schaefer says that he’s “amazed” at what accomplished every day, and because of that, he was inspired to remind all SAHMS that “what you’re doing matters immensely.”

“Sometimes in the midst of the chaos of daily routines and endless chores it’s easy to forget how important your role is, but every meal cooked, every scraped knee kissed, every bedtime story read, it all adds up to shaping the future generation,” he said.

@magicman1942 Special message for the stay at home moms. #stayathomemom #personalgrowth #inspiration #stayathomemomstruggle #workingmom #personal ♬ original sound - Don

Schaefer went on to say that it’s “perfectly normal” to get overwhelmed or exhausted with all the responsibilities and isolation that come with the job. That’s what makes self care so necessary.

“Whether it’s stealing a few moments for yourself during nap time, indulging in a hobby you love, or simply just taking a relaxing bath at the end of the day if you can find the time. Prioritize your well being,” he urged.

He then encouraged SAHMs to carve out moments to celebrate the small victories and appreciate the joys of motherhood, whether that looks like “a successful day of homeschooling” or “simply seeing your little one smile.”

Finally, Schaefer brought it all home by reiterating that even if it doesn't always feel like it, a SAHM’s value is “immeasurable.”

“Trust me. You are the heart and soul of your family and your efforts create a warm and nurturing environment where everyone can thrive. Keep shining your light and know that you are appreciated, loved and admired more than you’ll ever know. You’re doing an amazing job, and the world is a better place because of you,” he concluded.

Understandably, viewers were moved.

“Made me tear up!! What man takes the time to encourage moms? None I’ve known. Thank you,” one person wrote.

“This definitely made me cry,” another echoed. “Thank you for such kind words and taking the time to make this video. It touched my heart so much.”

One commented, “I’m not even a SAHM, and I still felt this! ALL moms can relate I think…thank you sir!”

And still, another simply wrote, “Needed this.”

For every SAHM (or any stay-at-home parent, for that matter) may these kind words help bolster your spirit, and remind you that what you do is important indeed. You deserve that, and so much more.

For more of Schaefer's content, find him on Instagram and TikTok.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Pop Culture

Andrew Huberman wows Jimmy Fallon with transformational stress hack on 'Tonight Show'

This is the “the fastest and best way to de-stress” in real time.

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon/Youtube

Huberman guiding Jimmy Fallon though a simple breathing exercises for stress relief.

There’s no such thing as stress-free living. Sure, we can mitigate it through various mindfulness practices and lifestyle choices—meditating, getting good sleep, not overdoing the caffeine, etc. But still, there will inevitably be moments throughout the day that cause some sort of anxiety. And more often than not, we won’t be able to say, “excuse me, I just need to pop out for 20 minutes to do some yoga. Brb.”

Luckily, even those moments can be manageable. All you gotta do is breathe. Yes, really.

Recently, neuroscientist Andrew Huberman made a guest appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” where he discussed a variety of topics frequently brought up on his popular podcast, including the benefits of being exposed to sunlight within the first hour of waking.

Huberman then guided Fallon and the audience through a simple breathing exercise that’s “the fastest and best way to de-stress” in real time.


First, everyone did a double inhale through their nose—a complete inhale that filled the lungs followed by one more inhale to “sneak in a bit more air.” Then they did a full exhale through their mouth, completely emptying out their lungs.

Watch:

As Huberman explained to Fallon, this type of breathing, called “physiological sighs,” was discovered by scientists in the 1930s. It’s something we do naturally throughout the day and during sleep, and it works by adjusting the levels of carbon dioxide to oxygen in our bloodstream, which affect the brain. Doing just 1, maybe 2, intentional physiological sighs “brings your level of stress down immediately.”

Huberman’s exercise (which he affirms is not a “hack”) was met by an exuberant applause from the audience, and lots of praise from online viewers.

Take a look at some of these comments:

“The silence of the audience’s focused attention is audible.”

“I love that he has no time for small talk and is determined to get across as much science as possible in the allotted time. Service to humanity.”

“Andrew Huberman is a national treasure! He teaches us so much about so many interesting topics and does it in a way that keeps us wanting more.”

“Huberman is the best thing that has happened on the internet in recent years.”

“I see Professor Huberman as the ultimate example. He does what he loves, tries to improve himself daily both as a professional and a person, shares his experience with people who have the same enthusiasm. More importantly, he shares this experience for FREE for the sake of sharing it.”

If we ever needed more proof that audiences are longing for more substance, this is it. If you’re not following Huberman but want more tips just like this, his Youtube channel is only a click away.

A couple shares why they decided to leave the United States.

Although it is difficult to tell if there is a trend of Americans moving out of the country, rough estimates show that around 8 million currently live in other countries—double the 4.1 million living abroad in 1999.

The most popular countries for Americans to move to are Mexico, Canada and the United Kingdom, in that order.

A big reason why some are leaving the U.S. is that an increasing number of employers allow people to work abroad. Others are choosing to leave because of cost of living increases and “golden visa” programs. Golden visas offer the chance to get a foreign residency permit by purchasing a house or making a significant investment or donation.


A couple is going viral on TikTok because they’ve decided to leave America and move to Spain. Luna Ashley Santel had wanted to move for a long time, but her husband wasn’t on board with the change until he had a lightbulb moment while visiting a Spanish café. The couple are parents of a 4-year-old daughter, and a big reason for their decision to leave is her safety.

@lunagoestospain

Here’s what shifted for him. I’m sure this’ll piss the right people off. No pun intended. #movingabroad #spaindigitalnomadvisa #movingabroadwithpets #movingtospainwithkids

While spending time in Spain, the couple went to a crowded café, which would have made them uncomfortable back home in St. Louis, Missouri.

“There's a ton of people walking around. Being from St. Louis, that's not a very comfortable place for me to be in,” the husband said. “And you turn to me and say, ‘Have you seen all these people?’” he recounted his wife saying.

“And you're like, ‘None of them have guns,’” he continued.

At this moment, he realized that living in America caused him to be on alert whenever he was out in public. A feeling he never got in Spain. “And I realized this weight that I had been carrying around my whole life wasn't necessary. Like what we think is normal is not normal,” he said.

When it comes to firearm policy, Spain and Missouri couldn’t be more different. In Spain, owning a handgun for self-defense is allowed when you are in verifiable danger. In Missouri, there is no permit requirement to carry a firearm, whether it’s concealed or carried openly.

In Spain, the gun death rate per 100,000 people in 2019 was 0.64. Whereas, in Missouri, the chance of being killed by a gun is more than 36 times greater, with 23.2 people per every 100,000 dying by gun in 2021.

The video resonated with many Americans who feel uncomfortable living in a country that has become accustomed to mass shootings.

"There’s so much mental energy we dedicate to simply existing in the U.S.," Mintmage wrote.

"As a father of two young boys, your husband’s explanation has me shook because I cannot disagree," Astrolo-G added.

"That is literally my main motivator for leaving the country. I am terrified for my son," Doula Faye wrote.

Luna’s husband isn’t the only one in the family concerned about school safety in the U.S. Luna, a former teacher of 7 years, believes that sending her daughter to a school where they have “terrifying” intruder drills is unacceptable.

“It's nothing that I want my 5-year-old child to have to accept or learn as normal,” she says in another TikTok post.

@lunagoestospain

Replying to @CholeraMeBadd a huge reason we are getting out. #gettingoutoftheusa #movingabroad #alicedrill #alicedrills #iquitteaching #ididntsignupforthishit #movingtospainwithkids

This article originally appeared on 7.14.23

Actor Jennifer Garner helps a homeless man in Santa Monica, California.

A paparazzo caught actor Jennifer Garner performing a touching act of kindness. Instead of being annoyed at having the moment filmed by the photographer, she asked him to help.

Garner was at the beach in Santa Monica, California, handing out bags of necessities to the homeless when she came across a man in a wheelchair who had no socks or shoes. Garner took the socks off her feet, gave them to the man and then attempted to hand over her shoes, but they were too small.

Garner then briskly walked over to the photographer filming her and asked him for assistance.


"What size feet do you have?” she asked the photographer repeatedly. “Can I buy your shoes for him? He needs a shoe.” When the random paparazzo asked what size feet the homeless man was, Garner replied, “10 and a half.”

@pinklover1969

Jennifer Gardner lead with kindness ... takong the time to help out a homeless man in LA. Her shoes must not have fit because she rushed over to the photographer and offered to buy his shoes. #kindness #jg #jennifergarner #homelessman #spreadlove #alwayshelpothers #hockeyhelpsthehomeless #fyp #tmznews #trending #foryou

“Oh, I’m 11! Want me to give it to him? I can give it to him,” he responded, adding that Garner didn’t have to pay him for the shoes. The photographer had a blanket to give to the homeless man as well.

When Garner came across the man in the wheelchair, she was handing out plastic bags filled with necessities, similar to those Upworthy reported on in March of 2022. Garner created a viral video for Instagram that showed how the average person could make bags to give a “random act of kindness” to someone in need.

The underlying message of the post is that with a bit of forethought and preparedness, we all can help people experiencing homelessness.

“Gather these essentials in a quart-sized Ziploc bag and keep them in your car to give away when you see someone in need,” she wrote on the post before listing some items that can really help a homeless person get through the day. “A pair of thick socks. Kleenex. Hand wipes. Disposable toothbrushes. Chapstick. A couple of granola bars. I forgot this time, but like to add feminine hygiene products, too. Add $5, $10, $20 and a smile.”

Homelessness has steadily risen in the United States by about 6% yearly since 2017. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, roughly 421,000 people were homeless in 2022, and nearly 128,000 were chronically homeless, meaning they didn't have a place to stay for a year or more.

The rise in people on the streets is distressing, and we all hope our leaders can get together to stop the steady increase. But until then, we are all called to do what we can to help alleviate the suffering we see on the streets.

Garner is a beautiful example of taking direct action to make the world a better place. Whether she calls a senator to help pass gun control legislation, buys boxes of books to help school teachers, or helps the homeless, her philosophy seems pretty simple. If you see something wrong, do something. It’s everyone’s responsibility to make the world a better place.


This article originally appeared on 9.22.23

How do you stand in the shower?

Lifestyle influencer Alexandra Lee, 29, was shocked to learn that she and her mother have opposite showering stances and it kicked off an important debate on the platform: what’s the correct way to stand in the shower?

It all started when Lee decided to renovate her bathroom and wasn’t sure where to put the bench in the shower, so she asked her mom for her advice. “When I shower, the shower head is behind me, so the water is like on my hair and down my back. Of course, I'll turn around occasionally and move around,” Lee said in her video before noting that her mother stands in the opposite direction.

“But she showers primarily facing the shower head, so the water hits her in the face and down her body,” Lee continued. “She’s shocked that I do the opposite and I'm shocked that she does the opposite. I feel like the normal way to shower is with the shower right behind you and you're facing that way.”


now I need to know, what is the normal way to shower?!? 🚿

@alittlebitlovey

now I need to know, what is the normal way to shower?!? 🚿

It may seem strange that Lee hadn’t considered that there’s more than one way to stand in the shower. However, it was a big revelation for many people because it sparked a pretty intense debate on Lee’s TikTok page and the video received over 5.8 million views.

“Is anyone else surprised by this?” Lee asked.

The comments suggest there is an equal number of nozzle-facers and nozzle face-away-ers. But the most passionate folks in the debate were those who shower with their backs to the nozzle. They can’t seem to understand why anyone would intentionally stand in front of the nozzle and have water continuously shot in their faces, especially when it feels so nice to have hot water sprayed on your back.

“Who the hell faces the water?”user2778056546386 wrote. “Facing the water is unhinged,” Not Jennifer Lawrence added. “If I face the water, I’m gonna drown,” Denise Pettersson commented. “Voluntarily getting waterboarded doesn’t sound fun at all,” Kristina Kubrick wrote.

“I face away! What the hell, people FACE THE WATER?!?” Erin Trent Hohman exclaimed.

There are also those with no preference and alternate throughout their shower session. “I rotate continuously like a kebab,” gentledreams wrote. “I constantly move around like a rotisserie chicken! Equal time on both sides,” Stormi Booke added.

It would seem that there is no wrong way to stand in the shower, but Dr. Cameron Rokshar, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, says that one way better protects your skin.

“The real scientific answer behind it has to do with moisturizing your skin,” Dr. Rokshar told Today.com, noting that facing away from the nozzle has a distinct advantage. “The more exposure you get to water, and especially hot water, the drier your skin becomes. If you face the shower and have a whole bunch of water hit your face for 10 or 15 minutes, and you get and out and do nothing about it, that has a drying effect. Water, as it evaporates, takes more water with it.”


This article originally appeared on 12.14.23