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Fear is powerful. So are doughnuts. Here's how one woman is using them.

'I went in with a super open heart, with a super open mind, and just let happen what was going to happen.'

This is Mona Haydar. Care for a doughnut? Cup of coffee?

Photo from Mona Haydar, used with permission.


Earlier this month, in response to some anti-Muslim rhetoric that's been making the rounds, she decided to set up shop outside a Cambridge, Massachusetts, library to offer up some free coffee, doughnuts, and conversation.

"Today I stepped out of my comfort zone and stood out in a public space holding a box of donuts in front of signs that my husband Sebastian made," she wrote on her Facebook wall.

The response from the people who stopped to talk to her was overwhelming — in a good way.

"Everyone who stopped to talk to us was so kind and sweet," she wrote. "'Thanks for doing this' was the most common comment and often followed by, 'I'm sorry about what's happening in our country right now. It makes me so sad.' One woman was on the verge of tears and wanted to know when we were coming back so she could bring a box of donuts for us to give out."

"What's happening in our country" is scary.

Ever since the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, life has become increasingly difficult for Muslims like Mona. Anti-Islamic sentiment is running rampant; with mosques burning and regular, everyday people being stalked by armed "protesters," it's bad news.

Armed protesters stage a demonstration in front of the Islamic Association of North Texas at the Dallas Central Mosque on Dec. 12, 2015, in Richardson, Texas. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

But Mona's determined to not let fear win.

And that starts with education.

"Initially, I thought I was going to get a lot of negativity, we were going to face a lot of Islamophobia. And I was going into it with that mindset," Mona told NPR. "Then I decided, you know what, I really can't do this if I'm expecting people to be negative. Because I'm not a negative person. I'm a super bubbly, happy person. I'm really friendly, I'm really nice, I'm really smiley; why should I expect anything less from other folks?"

Photo from Mona Haydar, used with permission.

In addition to answering people's questions in person, she fielded some questions over on her Facebook page as well.

One person asked for clarifications about sections of the Quran that call for violence.

Mona replied:

"I believe in Love and a God who inspires me to Love more deeply and more compassionately! Thanks for asking!"

Another asked why Muslim leaders "aren't doing more to end the violence/thinking of the radical members of your religion who believe in all the killing/terrorism?"

Mona answered:

"I'm not seeing a good answer for that either! But since most Muslims are normal and super nonviolent, we can't very well just bomb them ... that's kind of counter productive because that's what they're doing, bombing people I mean. I believe in Love! And [the] power of Love! I truly believe that when we move from a place of Love, we can collectively heal the hurt in the world! I don't mean it in any kind of abstract way. I mean it in a brain power, centering all our brain function, all the time creating new neural pathways and synaptic responses of LOVE!"

Another asked how non-Muslims can help break down the rough climate they find themselves in.

Mona wrote:

"We're doing all the goodness right now by having this conversation and inviting more love into our lives. That's all you and I have control over right now and if we can help ourselves embody and be LOVE then this love will heal the world! I agree! Make love! Not war!"


Photo from Mona Haydar, used with permission.

Of course, Mona can't speak for all Muslims — but that's kind of the point.

Her personal interpretation of her religion may not perfectly align with someone else's. The problem is that, too often, we look at the acts of a few and attribute them to an entire group of people. ISIS doesn't speak for all Muslims any more than the Westboro Baptist Church or Army of God speak for all Christians. We can't be so afraid and distrusting of one another. That's not what this country is supposed to stand for.

Don't give in to hate. Don't give in to fear. Pull up a chair and have a cup of coffee with someone who believes in something different from you; you'll be surprised what you can learn.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Joy

10 things that made us smile this week

Something joyful for everyone.

From sleepy pups to smooth skate moves, there's plenty of reasons to smile.

When the internet is full of dreary headlines, it’s even more important to balance it all out with things that spark joy.

Whether it comes from cute kids and animals, amazing art or wholesome acts of kindness, things that make us smile help remind our hearts that the world is indeed a big place, containing both the bad and the good. Sometimes it might take a little extra scouring to find what makes us smile, but Upworthy is here to make the search a little bit easier.

Without further ado, let’s get uplifted:

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Memories of childhood get lodged in the brain, emerging when you least expect.

There are certain pleasurable sights, smells, sounds and tastes that fade into the rear-view mirror as we grow from being children to adults. But on a rare occasion, we’ll come across them again and it's like a portion of our brain that’s been hidden for years expresses itself, creating a huge jolt of joy.

It’s wonderful to experience this type of nostalgia but it often leaves a bittersweet feeling because we know there are countless more sensations that may never come into our consciousness again.

Nostalgia is fleeting and that's a good thing because it’s best not to live in the past. But it does remind us that the wonderful feeling of freedom, creativity and fun from our childhood can still be experienced as we age.

A Reddit user by the name of agentMICHAELscarnTLM posed a question to the online forum that dredged up countless memories and experiences that many had long forgotten. He asked a simple question, “What’s something you can bring up right now to unlock some childhood nostalgia for the rest of us?”

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