We’re all in need of a little pick-me-up from time to time. Some of us are exhausted, demotivated, burned out, and we’re finding precious few things to be happy about (well… besides junk food…). The world’s so full of darkness after all. But life’s got plenty of wonderful things to bring us joy and make us smile, too! Sometimes, it just takes a gentle reminder. This one’s from us.
Dumbledore said that happiness can be found in the darkest of times “if one only remembers to turn on the light,” and we’re huge believers in that. So here’s us flicking on the lights for you! Our team at Bored Panda has put together this list of some of the most wholesome, heartwarming, and uplifting pictures and stories to bring that spark of happiness back into your lives, dear Readers.
As you’re scrolling down, remember to upvote the pics that made you smile the widest and be sure to share ‘em with those of your friends who you think might need a virtual hug. In the mood for some chicken soup for the soul? Check out Bored Panda’s other recent super-wholesome posts here, here, and here.
Sarah Vero from ‘Action for Happiness’ went into detail with Bored Panda about finding real happiness and how to move forward after the exhausting year that we’ve had. You’ll find her insights below.
#1 I Don’t Have Anyone To Celebrate With But I’m 7 Years Clean Of Heroin Today. Yey Me
Image credits: FingerMyJapsEye
#2 A Single Gay Man Is Only Allowed To Adopt A Child With Disability, So He Adopts A Girl With A Down Syndrome, That Was Rejected By More Than 20 Families
Image credits: trapaluca
#3 My Son Always Texts To Say He’s On His Way Home. So I Open The Door, Letting His 17-Year-Old Cat, And 16-Year-Old Doggo Know That He’s On His Way. This Is Them Waiting For Him
Thought it was adorable and wanted to share.
Image credits: JonesMommy
For Sarah from ‘Action for Happiness,’ living a life of happiness and a life of duty and purpose aren’t polar opposites: they’re both closely interlinked with one another. «Finding real happiness isn’t about always seeking a temporary state of feeling good. A lot of what actually makes us happy relates to duty and purpose,» she said.
«The 10 keys to happier living are giving, relating, exercising, awareness, trying out, direction, resilience, emotions, acceptance, and meaning. We are likely to be happier if our lives have direction, meaning and purpose and if we are part of something bigger than ourselves,» Sarah said that living a life full of purpose with a clear sense of direction while also lending others a helping hand is a more fulfilling one than blundering about aimlessly.
#4 After Stage 4 Cancer & 20 Months Of Chemo, My Kid Rang The Bell
Image credits: 20vmki
#5 The Client Was Supposed To Wear This Dress For Their Session That Was Canceled, So I Asked My Husband’s 87-Year-Old Grandma If She Wanted To Model The Dress For Me
After a little hesitation, I convinced her to do it. I did her make-up, brushed her hair and put the dress on her, she was the happiest little old lady I’ve ever seen. She said she felt like she was a bride again and how she wished her husband was still on this earth with us so she could remarry him again. Btw, it was also her birthday, so it was the perfect little gift to up her spirits
Image credits: inthebliss
#6 The First Selfie My Grandpa Took With His New Phone
Image credits: bosvert234
«Giving or doing things for others is another example. Relating is about being connected to other people and being part of a community. Duty and purpose don’t have to be serious things, being part of a cause that you care about or taking part in charity fundraising, all these things make us happy and fulfilled. We should see these things as acts of service that help us to be happy and help other people at the same time. Awareness is about appreciating each moment no matter what we are doing at the time.»
Sarah gave us some very tips on how to deal with our current feelings of isolation, burnout, and exhaustion. She also shared how we can rediscover our joy of living. First of all, she highlighted the fact that it’s perfectly «ok not to be ok,» since it’s normal to feel isolated and burned out «during a traumatic experience like a pandemic.» The key is not to punish yourself for struggling during these difficult times.
#7 The Very Last Message My Lil Girl Minnie Made Sure I Had Before She Passed Away This Year
Daddy can hear your voice every time I read this and I miss ya more than you’ll ever know.
Image credits: mikey.thompson.3154
#8 Spent The Second Half Of 2020 Homeless, NYE In A Mental Hospital, Then Caught Covid The Week I Was Released. Tonight Is My First Night In A Proper Bed, And I Built It Myself
Image credits: dingosaurus
#9 Today I Have 2 Years Sober From Fentanyl, Meth, Crack And Alcohol! This Is A Day I Felt Like I Would Never See, Definitely Smiling Today
Image credits: Psychological-Draw74
«Don’t be down on yourself for struggling, most people are in the same boat. If we admit that we are struggling we can start to take steps to get better. Don’t suffer alone, talk to friends and family, let them know what’s going on, and make time for meaningful conversations,» Sarah from ‘Action for Happiness’ suggested that we open up to our loved ones more. However, that’s not all.
«Start taking small steps to support your mental health and wellbeing. Are you getting the basics right? Eat healthy food, get enough sleep, and daily exercise. Take time for yourself, go outside and be in nature, notice the way the seasons are changing at the moment. Plan time in your diary to do something you love like creating art or music,» she said.
#10 The French Welcome
Image credits: mtlgrems
#11 8 Years Sober From Heroin Today And A Week Without Cigarettes (Though I’m Having Trouble). I Don’t Have Anyone Really To Share With So Here I Am. Here’s To The Future
Image credits: CakeDaySenderella
#12 Anxiously Awaiting Toy Retrieval
Image credits: my_stupid_name
What’s more, even though we might be feeling sapped and down, it’s the perfect time to think about others, not just ourselves. «Think about how you can reach out and do things for others, help a neighbour or volunteer for a cause, we get happiness high from helping other people. Or start small and simply list three things that you can be grateful for each night before bed. Take it slow and be kind to yourself, the world is starting to open up but go at the pace that feels good for you,» Sarah advised us how we can take the first steps to step out of the pandemic lockdown fog and into the sunlight.
#13 I Lost My Baby And Stranger From The Internet Made Me A Bear With The Same Size And Weight
It is so beautiful to have a physical representation of my baby that I can hold and I am so thankful.
Image credits: smkels
#14 I And Two Coworkers Realized We Were Wearing The Same Coat. The Only Option Was To Zip Them Into One Three Person Coat
Image credits: Geekquinox
#15 My Husband Passed Away 2 Weeks Ago And In The Garage Behind A Piece Of Paper Hanging On The Wall I Found This
In the months before his passing he was unable to talk due to his brain cancer, so finding this note from him meant the world to me and is something I will cherish forever. We were married for 24 years. I hope this post inspires people to take time to leave little notes for their loved ones. The comfort they can give is priceless.
Image credits: Lacy Summers
Previously, I spoke about the relationship between helping others and happiness with Vanessa King, the Head of Psychology at ‘Action for Happiness,’ a movement that’s dedicated to creating a happier, more caring society. The Dalai Lama is the movement’s patron and King is the author of ’10 Keys to Happier Living.’
King told Bored Panda that an important part of being happy is helping others and doing kind things for them.
«If you think about it human beings are social species, we evolved to live in groups so working together and doing things to help each other is the social glue that keeps us together,” King explained.
#16 Our Cat Had Kittens Two Days After We Had Our Baby Girl. This Kitten Climbs Into Her Lounger Whenever He Has The Chance. I Think These Two Were Destined To Be Best Buds
Image credits: Hoot2687
#17 Retired Chemistry Teacher Bro. Martin Sellner Shared His Triumph Of Completing A Cross-Stitch Periodic Table After Two Decades Of Stitching
The 82-year-old Lasallian brother meticulously hand-stitched every inch of the 58″ x 54″ embroidery.
«The table and border took six years. Then finally the last nine elements were named by the IUPAC and I was able to complete it.»
Image credits: Inspirations Magazine
#18 Jamie Couldn’t Play Sports Because He Has Cerebral Palsy, But The Team That He Works For As A Janitor Awarded Him A Ring
«I’m not a player or coach, yet greatly enjoy serving the Greenwood football program as their janitor. I was humbled today as they shared their state championship with me by gifting me with a ring. What fun it is to be a Greenwood Bulldog!»
Image credits: Jamie Freeman
«Participating in group activities and community events makes us happier too. When we do things for others it activates the reward center in the brain, so when we give a gift it feels the same as receiving a gift,» King detailed to Bored Panda in an earlier interview.
Even if we’re not usually altruistic, King had some wonderful news for us: it’s a learned skill that we can develop step by small step. It all comes down to consistently working at it every day. “At Action for Happiness, we provide daily actions and advice on small changes you can take each day to start bringing more kindness into your life. Small daily actions one at a time can help us to make altruism a lifetime habit. You could start out small by deciding you are going to smile at everyone you meet or pay three people a compliment today.»
#19 Happy I Got The Happiest Photo With My Best Friend
Image credits: inherentlydad
#20 The Late Great Black Panther Chadwick Boseman Visiting And Making The Absolute Day Of Cancer-Stricken Kids In The Hospital, All The While Quietly Battling The Same Disease
Image credits: chadwickboseman
#21 My Father Meeting His First Grandson
Image credits: bubblegumprincesss
There are other ways to develop your altruistic inclinations, too. For instance, giving money to charity, donating to a food bank, or volunteering your time for a cause that you think is worth it. “You can leave a food package or a note for an elderly neighbor,” King from ‘Action for Happiness’ said.
“All of these actions help others and boost your own happiness and if we are happier, research shows we are even more likely to help others.”
There’s some more good news on the altruistic front. We know that not everyone is willing to help others purely out of the goodness of their heart: they’re constantly thinking about what they get out of it. Fortunately, King told us that it’s perfectly fine to “fake it ‘till you make it” and not worry too much about whether you’re actually being self-interested or kind.
#22 I’ve Made A Commitment To Stay Sober And Take My Life Back. I’ve Made It 2.5 Days, Which Is The Longest Streak I Can Remember
Image credits: hickryjustaswell
#23 Our Daughter Wasn’t Eating For Weeks Due To The Effects Of Chemo And Being Very Sick. Finally Home From The Hospital, I Made Spaghetti And She Finally Would Eat
Celebrating small victories here
Image credits: Jenngotcakespdx
#24 We Fed Our Backyard Squirrel ONCE… Meet Frankie At Our Backyard Door Waiting For More Nuts
Image credits: chebstr
“Maybe at first, you start out doing things to help others only to get attention and praise, but you will find that doing things for others helps you feel good and when you see people’s responses. Once you see the difference you can make in the world and to your own happiness and altruism can grow naturally,» the Head of Psychology at ‘Action for Happiness’ said.
Kindness, according to King, has a ripple effect. We’re more likely to be kind when we experience kindness in turn. So helping even one person with a seemingly trivial task can have a knock-on effect that’s far bigger than we initially think.
#25 This Little Guy Came To Say Hello While Walking My Pup This Morning. Am I Officially A Disney Princess?
Image credits: switchup
#26 Twitter Can Be The Cutest App Ever
Image credits: Paiiiin_
#27 My Dad Was Worried My Deafblind Dog Wouldn’t Recognize Him After A Year Of Quarantine But I Think She Did
Image credits: haydenkristal
It’s best to do kind things without expecting anything in return. First of all, because it’s the morally correct way of living life. But secondly, because of one very practical aspect: we can never be sure that we’ll be rewarded for our troubles, so it’s best to have very low expectations (or none at all!) so that we’re not left feeling disappointed.
«It may also be helpful for the person to think about why they are seeking attention and reward from an external source, a key part of being happy is feeling comfortable with who you are and accepting life the way it is,” King suggested.
#28 My Great Grandma, Who Turned 103 On Valentine’s Day, Laughing With My 2-Month-Old Daughter
Image credits: mrsroyalmountain
#29 Becoming Mothers Together
Image credits: mamamaners
#30 I’ve Been Biking To Work In The Cold Every Morning, My Coworker Noticed And She Made Me This Scarf And Beanie
Image credits: Then_Ad7687
She continued: “I’d suggest that the person taking time to build up their self-care to become happier and more resilient. Perhaps start with a personal gratitude practice to appreciate what they already have in life, writing down three things each day that we are grateful for can boost happiness.”
#31 Forgiveness Can Actually Heal Us. He Got His Life Back. May We Find It In Our Hearts To Forgive Those Who Are Truly Sorry And Need Us To Free Them
Image credits: heathertday
#32 A Factory In Turkey Started To Produce Roof Tiles That Serve As Bird Shelters
Image credits: UgurErogul99
#33 My Son’s Gymnastics Teammate Didn’t Get Any Medals, So He Offered One Of His. «But I Didn’t Earn It», His Friend Said. My Son Replied «You Earned It By Being My Best Friend»
Made me tear up, what a good little man.
Image credits: TheTopHatSideShow
#34 Elementary School Kids Raised Over $7000 To Buy Their Janitor A Car, Whose Commute Was 4 Hours Long On 3 Different Buses
Image credits: wmcactionnews5.com
#35 Lost 200 Pounds In A Year. Just Did The 20:4 Fast And Walked ~5 Km Every Day (360 Lbs To 160 Lbs)
Image credits: FoxyRadical2
#36 My 10-Year Cancer-Versary: Full Circle From Cancer Patient To Oncology PA Working In The Same Clinic That Cured Me
Image credits: blondie0o
#37 My Dad Poured A Trail Of Salt From My Vehicle To The Front Door Of My Work Building So That I, His 38-Year-Old Daughter, Wouldn’t Slip And Fall On The Ice
Image credits: Elizabeth Bautista Boyd
#38 Sweet Rat
Image credits: Carli_Elaine
#39 A Very Awesome Mom
Image credits: JustinRyanBerni
#40 Some Kids Made A Stick Pile For Dogs Walking By
Image credits: amyjbrittain
#41 She’s Just So Happy
Image credits: clairelizzie
#42 Remember Me? The White Blood Cell Immunotherapy Girl? Well, Update: It Worked. Stage 4 To No Cancer In 3 Months! Science Is Magic
Zero evidence of disease at 3mo scan, and staying that way.
Image credits: sarahjewel
#43 Little Victories
Image credits: sarahbellumPA
#44 Little Boy Receives His «Salary» From Wholesome Electricians
«Possibly the sweetest act of kindness I’ve seen. Family had electricians in every week for the past 6 weeks and their little boy was obsessed with them. He hounded them with questions, kindness and constant offers to help!»
Image credits: SportySuz20
#45 Every Morning, Our Cat Patiently Waits At My Sons’ Bedroom Door For Them To Wake Up. And It’s Not To Be Fed – He Just Can’t Wait To See Them
Image credits: NuevoJerz
#46 So This Happened To Me Today
Image credits: acnh_nanaland
#47 The Whole Family Lost Weight By Working Out Together
Image credits: xyjesse
#48 Adorable Meetings
Image credits: throatgoatlisa
#49 An Act Of Kindness
Image credits: IanAgate
#50 The Firefighters That Helped Deliver Our Baby In Our Driveway Last Week Just Dropped Off Flowers
Image credits: philipgoffinet