31 Days of Happiness Countdown: a NASA GIF to melt your stress away. (Day 19)

Thanks for stopping by for Day 19 of Upworthy's 31 Days of Happiness Countdown! If this is your first visit, here's the gist: Each day between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31, we're sharing stories we hope will bring joy, smiles, and laughter into our lives and yours. It's been a challenging year for a lot of us, so why not end it on a high note with a bit of happiness? Check back tomorrow (or click the links at the bottom) for another installment!

You've heard of the circle of life. (And now you're singing it. It's the ciiiiiiiircle of liiiiiife! You're welcome.)


But have you ever wondered what the circle of life actually looks like? Like ... from outer space?

Over the past two decades, scientists at NASA have been gathering satellite images of the Earth. They then took those images and compiled them into one giant, epic time-lapse.

It may not sound like much, but there's just something about watching it ebb and flow back and forth that evokes a deep sense of calm and contentedness. Breath in and out in time with it. It's the kind of immense relaxation that can help improve your sleep quality, lower your anger levels, and boost your confidence. I'm not saying this footage will turn your life around, but well, I'm not not saying it either.

In this short GIF of the NASA footage, compressed and sped up, you can watch the Earth "breathing." Check it out:

Innnnnnnn, and ouuuuuut. GIF via NASA.

Ice and frost drift toward the equator from the north and south poles, then gradually recede. Lush vegetation blooms in the spring months, then retreats again. Oceans move to and fro in stunning tidal patterns. Over and over and over again.

Watch it long enough and you start to feel extremely small and unimportant — in the best possible way. In a way that makes you feel free and like possibilities are endless. It's calming and reassuring ... in a cosmic sort of way.

(It sure beats checking Twitter for the hundredth time today.)

Check out the entire compilation from NASA, which includes higher quality footage and even more extraordinary views.

More days of happiness here: DAY 1 / DAY 2 / DAY 3 / DAY 4 / DAY 5/ DAY 6 / DAY 7 / DAY 8 / DAY 9 / DAY 10 / DAY 11 / DAY 12 / DAY 13 / DAY 14 / DAY 15 / DAY 16 / DAY 17 / DAY 18 / [DAY 19] / DAY 20 / DAY 21 / DAY 22 / DAY 23 / DAY 24 / DAY 25 / DAY 26 / DAY 27 / DAY 28 / DAY 29 / DAY 30 / DAY 31

In the autumn of 1939, Chiune Sugihara was sent to Lithuania to open the first Japanese consulate there. His job was to keep tabs on and gather information about Japan's ally, Germany. Meanwhile, in neighboring Poland, Nazi tanks had already begun to roll in, causing Jewish refugees to flee into the small country.

When the Soviet Union invaded Lithuania in June of 1940, scores of Jews flooded the Japanese consulate, seeking transit visas to be able to escape to a safety through Japan. Overwhelmed by the requests, Sugihara reached out to the foreign ministry in Tokyo for guidance and was told that no one without proper paperwork should be issued a visa—a limitation that would have ruled out nearly all of the refugees seeking his help.

Sugihara faced a life-changing choice. He could obey the government and leave the Jews in Lithuania to their fate, or he could disobey orders and face disgrace and the loss of his job, if not more severe punishments from his superiors.

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, Sugihara was fond of saying, "I may have to disobey my government, but if I don't, I would be disobeying God." Sugihara decided it was worth it to risk his livelihood and good standing with the Japanese government to give the Jews at his doorstep a fighting chance, so he started issuing Japanese transit visas to any refugee who needed one, regardless of their eligibility.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

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Gates Foundation

Once upon a time, a scientist named Dr. Andrew Wakefield published in the medical journal The Lancet that he had discovered a link between autism and vaccines.

After years of controversy and making parents mistrust vaccines, along with collecting $674,000 from lawyers who would benefit from suing vaccine makers, it was discovered he had made the whole thing up. The Lancet publicly apologized and reported that further investigation led to the discovery that he had fabricated everything.

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via Jess Martini / Tik Tok

There are few things as frightening to a parent than losing your child in a crowded place like a shopping mall, zoo, or stadium. The moment you realize your child is missing, it's impossible not to consider the terrifying idea they may have been kidnapped.

A woman in New Zealand recently lost her son in a Kmart but was able to locate him because of a potentially life-saving parenting hack she saw on TikTok a few months ago.

The woman was shopping at the retailer when she realized her two-year-old son Nathan was missing. She immediately told a friend to alert the staff to ensure he didn't leave through the store's front exit.

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