Tough. Challenging. Unrelenting. This is what this year has been like for us. But 2020 is coming to an end. Finally! It’s no wonder that some of us are feeling anxious, stressed out, and just… tired from everything that’s happened so far. Fortunately, life isn’t just doom and gloom.
People being the best they can be and doing wholesome things for others are the main reasons to keep going. We wanted to pick your spirits up for the holiday season and to show you the bright side of life, so the Bored Panda team lovingly handcrafted you this list. Remember to upvote the most uplifting stories, dear Pandas. When you’re done boosting your mood, we’d absolutely adore hearing what wholesome things you and your loved ones have been up to this year. So drop us a line or two in the comment section—we can’t wait to hear from you! Meanwhile, let’s get into why giving is good for everyone and why thinking that people are inherently selfish might just be wrong.
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Bored Panda wanted to learn more about the relationship between helping others and happiness, so we reached out to ‘Action for Happiness,’ a movement dedicated to creating a happier and more caring society. The movement’s patron is none other than the Dalai Lama. Vanessa King, the Head of Psychology at ‘Action for Happiness,’ told Bored Panda that doing things for others is a key part of keeping ourselves happy. “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.” Read on for King’s detailed insights about altruism, the spirit of giving, and happiness.
#1 Hello World, I’m 15 Minutes Old
Image credits: Mari Gavasheli
#2 Colorado Man Reunited With His Donkey, Ennis, After Fire Swept Through His Town
Image credits: BarefootUnicorn
#3 Plastic Correction In A Boy With Crouzon’s Syndrome. He Even Showed Improvement In Vision And Breathing
Image credits: craniofacial.org
King, the Head of Psychology at ‘Action for Happiness’ and the author of ’10 Keys to Happier Living,’ pointed out that children as young as 2 years old have been seen sharing which just goes to show that we’re hardwired for cooperation. “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 told Bored Panda.
However, we know that life isn’t always simple. Life can hit us hard and bump us into survival mode which can make helping others a tad harder than it needs to be. Fortunately, King had some great news for us—there are lots of small ways that we can do in our daily lives to become more altruistic. And really is quite simple. All we need is a bit of willpower and a dash of courage to go beyond our comfort zones and routines.
“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.”
#4 A Wonderful Young Man
Image credits: karenalea
#5 The Love For His Son Never Died
Image credits: VVSLaxman281
#6 When You See A Guy Bottle Feeding A Kitten On The Subway
Image credits: Gillian Rogers
She continued: “You can give money to charity, donate to a food bank, or volunteer your time over Christmas. You can leave a food package or a note for an elderly neighbor. 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. Our January action calendar has ideas and inspiration for each day of the month to get you started in 2021.”
However, what about people who feel like they only care about helping others to the extent that they’re rewarded for their efforts? We were incredibly curious to figure out how to move from concentrated self-interest to genuine kindness. King stressed that it’s alright to “fake it ’till you make it” and not to worry too much.
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“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,” she said.
#7 Be Kind To Each Other
Image credits: mhdksafa
#8 Skin-Colored Band-Aids For Everyone
Image credits: apollontweets
#9 Just Finished My Chemotherapy Treatment And All That’s Left Is Steroids And Radiotherapy And Then I’m Cancer Free
Image credits: 123uno456
King added that kindness has a ripple effect because people are more likely to be kind when they experience kindness themselves. So being nice and spreading the spirit of giving can have a tangible effect not only on your local community but also on the world. There’s a practical aspect, too: by being kind, we increase the chances that others will be there for us when we need it.
What’s more, King shared the problems with having expectations for rewards that are too high. We might feel severely disappointed if we set our expectations too high. So it’s best to have little to no expectations when doing something for others; from a utilitarian, as well as a deontological point of view.
“There’s an important point too here for people on the receiving end of kindness. If they can, it’s, of course, great to say thank you and add the positive impact it has for you e.g., ‘Thank you, It’s great to know that someone cares.’ That can really boost the glow for the giver and encourage them to give more,” she told Bored Panda what we can all do when somebody else goes the extra mile for us. It’s best to vocalize our gratitude instead of leaving it to someone else’s imagination.
#10 A Shop Owner Modified His Attic To Accommodate His Cats. Now He Is Under Constant Observation
Image credits: 9999monkeys
#11 My 93 Year Old Dementia Patient Painted My Cat, I Have No Cat But I’m Starting To Fall In Love With This One
Image credits: corry26
#12 Went To The Shelter To Look At Dogs, They Didn’t Have Any There But Once This Lil Girl Saw Me She Started Pawing At Her Cage. Now I Have A New Forever Friend
Image credits: bmoneyyy9
“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. 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.”
Doing something nice for others without expecting absolutely anything in return (whether rewards, praise, or attention) is the essence of giving.
The fact that we feel good about doing wholesome things for others doesn’t mean that we’re not altruistic—our brains are simply rewarding us for being social and looking out for the collective which we depend on. At the end of the day, helping others out feels good. On a biological and spiritual level.
#13 “If I Birthed 6 Kids, I’m Gonna Get 6 Kids Out”. Super-Mom Emma Schols Saved All Of Her 6 Kids From Their Burning Home
Even tho she was bleeding and losing skin, hair burnt like coal, she kept going. Emma got 93% burn injuries, yet still survived. A Hero.
Image credits: aftonbladet.se
#14 2020 Ain’t All Bad! I Asked This Handsome Fellow On The Right To Marry Me And He Said Yes
Image credits: andmancan
#15 An Autistic Boy, Who Can’t Be Touched, Connects With A Service Dog, As His Mom Bursts Into Tears Of Hope And Joy
I’m not sure why, but people still ask us why we place service dogs with children sometimes. Let me help you understand, from a momma who knows first hand:
See this moment? I’ve never experienced a moment like this.
This picture was taken near the end of the day after my autistic five year old was finally able to sit down with his new Service Dog Tornado. He flew across the entire ocean, stopped in multiple states, and uprooted his entire routine to travel the globe for this. He was so overwhelmed through the day that he had to leave to take a break for a couple hours before he could come back. This boy is the strongest child I have ever met; he has faced countless rude and ignorant adults and children who do not understand him, who have hurt him, and who have not valued him because he is different. This picture captures the face of a mother who saw her child, who she can’t hug, wash, dress, snuggle and touch freely lay on his new Service dog of his own free will, with a purposeful unspoken attachment. This is the face of a mom who has seen her son experience countless failed social interactions on the playground in an attempt to have a friend. Any friend. Any kind of connection. She has sat with her son while he has cried at night for months because he has no consistent connections outside of the family no matter how hard he tries and no matter what he works hard on in his Autism therapies. It doesn’t transfer to the natural occurring world for him. And now she is sitting behind her son silently watching this moment, with the air sucked from her lungs, and no words to say.
Holding her mouth and silently crying because she doesn’t want to distract him from the moment and break him away from a pure, honest, and truly fulfilling moment for her son-of his own free will. This is truly magic. Words cannot explain it.
I have cried so many times for this boy, but this is the very first time I have cried for a reason like this.
It’s new, it’s painful, it’s wonderful, and it’s grateful. I will always stand behind this boy (probably still crying ) but I am grateful that he will have Tornado to stand beside him. The 4 Paws magic is real. The wait is long, but this moment right here makes it worth every moment of waiting. It’s worth every fight for services for my son, every diagnosis, every new provider, every dollar spent, every paper filled out, every school meeting, every shed tear, every step forward, every step back, and every wonder of the unknown future. Some how because of this- because of Tornado- I know everything will be okay.
Image credits: 4 Paws For Ability
In modern times, a lot of us assume that human beings are fundamentally selfish and self-interested. That, however, might just be a big bunch of pessimistic and cynical boohockey. Rutger Bregman, the author of ‘Humankind: A Hopeful History,’ challenges the notion that we’re inherently selfish. Instead, Bregman argues that we should assume that people are good. It’s not just wishful thinking, though!
According to Bregman, there’s an evolutionary basis for our instinct to cooperate rather than compete and to trust rather than distrust. In the book, Bregman gives a fresh new take on the last 200k years of our history by reframing the most famous events and studies done. This sort of shift has powerful effects—changing our perspective about the nature of humankind can help us create lasting change in society, politics, economics, and everywhere.
On a personal note, we agree with Bregman. And it’s articles like the one you’re reading now that give us hope that everyone’s got a mini Santa Claus inside of them who goes the extra mile all year long. Not just on Christmas.
#16 My Daughter’s Letter To Her Teacher
Image credits: genuinesasksealskin
#17 My Cousin Was Fishing On The River This Weekend And Rescued This Deer Who Was So Tired He Was Starting To Drown
Image credits: One-Spelling-Error
#18 After Not Seeing My Grandparents For Months, They Finally Figured Out How “To Work Facetime.” This Was My Grandpa’s Face When He Saw Me
Image credits: bogar13
#19 Captain Suzy Garrett And Her First-Officer Daughter, Donna, Are The First Mother-Daughter Pair In History To Pilot A Commercial Skywest Airlines Flight Together
Suzy was one of the first dozen female pilots hired at Skywest and has been flying there for over 30 years
Image credits: asianj1m
#20 Sikh Community Delivers Hundreds Of Meals To Lorry Drivers In Kent
Image credits: Khalsa_Aid
#21 A Kind Stranger Drove Two Hours And Used His Drone To Recover Meadow, Who Was Lost In The Woods For 10 Days
Meadow was missing in our town for over a week. It has been snowing and quite cold where we were, so the whole town rallied together to search for Meadow but to no avail. I thought I’d try my luck and share the lost dog poster on our local Subreddit. A stranger Redditor responded immediately and offered to look for Meadow with his drone. I asked the search team to give me the more precise coordinates and shared that with him. To be honest, I lost all hope at that point as it’s been more than 10 days. I also didn’t expect a stranger to go at the length it would require to look for Meadow.
Then at 3:30 PM yesterday, I got a ping that he found Meadow! The length this dude went to is insane: He drove 1.5 hours from where he was and spent forever until his drone went out of the battery to look for Meadow
Image credits: butterscotcheggs
#22 My Mom Crochets And Donated 31 Blankets To Sick Children This Year
Image credits: seacogen
#23 I’m A Horse Vet. This Adorable Little Guy Fell Asleep On My Feet While I Talked To His People
Image credits: quantizedd
#24 Saved A Cat In The Freeway Today I45 No Hesitation Pulled Over Immediately, Grabbed From Traffic
Image credits: _ItsLy_
#25 In Case There Is Good News
Image credits: annastayshaa
#26 A Loggerhead Turtle Got Into A Boating Accident, Resulting In The Loss Of A Majority Of Its Lower Beak. Scientists Gave It A New 3D Printed Titanium Beak
He is now a cyborg turtle.
Image credits: reddit.com
#27 So True
#28 Wrist Surgery. My Surgeon Incised Around My Tattoo. He Could Have Not Cared And Cut Right Through It. Pretty Bro Move If You Ask Me
Image credits: DRAWKWARD79
#29 This Gem Of A Human Feeding The Stray Cat At My Apartment Complex And Giving Him An Umbrella Since It’s Raining
Image credits: GreenAppleJones
#30 I Got My Pup A Matching Chair So He Would Stop Stealing Mine. Needless To Say, He’s Very Pleased
Image credits: GeneticCoder23
#31 My 64-year-old Mother Told Us On Thanksgiving That She Got Accepted To A PhD Program At UPenn. It’s Never Too Late To Do What You Want
Image credits: isadwatson
#32 My Wife’s Senior Dog Can’t Play Due To Arthritis But Our Puppy Loves Him Anyways
Image credits: _petros
#33 Family Moment Despite Covid-19
Image credits: briannalhaynes
#34 In 2019 I Got Way Too Drunk At The Office Christmas Party & Bet My Coworker That I Would Spend 2020 Getting Fit. I Kept My Promise And Won The Bet. I Am Proud
Image credits: Asalami_Laykum
#35 My Grandpa Just Turned 64 Today. He Grew Up Poor And Had Never Had A Birthday Party. Today He Had His First One And You Can See The Happiness In His Smile
Image credits: SwingSwong1234
#36 The Best Kind Of Phone Call
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#37 Pay It Forward
Image credits: SWS_FASTLab
#38 My Dog Chewed A Hole Through His Towel And Stuck His Head Through It. Now He Wears It Around The House Like A Poncho
Image credits: RedIceBreaker
#39 We Should All Strive To Treat One Another Like This 8 Year Old Treats People
Image credits: leannaaross
#40 I Needed This
Image credits: Nemisis1000
#41 I Couldn’t See My Family This Year (For Obvious Reasons) So Me And My Boy Made The Best Of It
Image credits: macthesnackattack
#42 Derek Prue Sr., A Dad From Alberta, Sat Through 30 Hours Of Tattoo Pain So That His Son Would Feel Better About His Birthmark
Image credits: juicyquill
#43 This Strong Dude, Ezra, Survived A Cardiac Arrest
Image credits: Thereaper29
#44 I Wasn’t Allowed To Use A Notebook At My Cashier Job, So I Started Writing My Book About Bullying On Printed Out Receipts. This Year I Finally Published My Novel
Image credits: ArbyLG
#45 Volunteers All Over The World Hand Make Small Nests For Rescued Birds And Small Orphaned Mammals For Over 500 International Wildlife Rescues And Rehabbers
They belong to a non-profit called Wildlife Rescue Nests
Image credits: wildliferescuenests
#46 Sometimes I Throw Doggy Treats To My Landlords Dogs Out Of My Window, This Is Now What I See When I Look Out My Window
Image credits: Tight-Start1795
#47 I Have Covid And My Fiancee Leaves Food For Me And Then Sits In The Hallway So We Can Eat Together. Tonight I Got Surprise Hot Cocoa
Image credits: alittleredportleft
#48 Young Enterprise Employee Spent 20-30 Mins Making Sure This Disabled Individual Picked The Perfect Van For Her Next Trip! Even Measured The Whole Van And Chair Just To Make Sure
Image credits: silversauce
#49 Two Years And Tons Of Walks Later, Shiloh Has Reached Her Target Weight
Image credits: mikerich15
#50 I Only Rescued Her One Week Ago And She Loves Cuddling. I Haven’t Had To Take An Anxiety Pill Since Getting Her Because She’s Like The Ultimate Weighted Blanket
Image credits: WrinklyDog1
#51 Been Gaming With This Dude For 15 Years. I Have Some Good Gaming Memories With Him. He Tried But Couldn’t Get PS5. Little Did He Know I Was Able To Get Him One
Looking forward to playing another generation with him
Image credits: ghost_knight1121
#52 Today Is The Day This Little Lady Becomes My Daughter. Happy Adoption Day
Image credits: Sdoeden87
#53 My Husband Has Been Sober For 700 Days
Image credits: HouseHolder87
#54 Year Difference. When I First Started Losing My Hair Until Now. Cancer Can Suck It! I Did That! Didn’t Think I Would Be Here Today, But Here I Am (Sorta) Healthy, Happy, And Alive
Image credits: oreneec
#55 When I First Told My Wife I Loved Her, She Replied With “That’s Dangerous”. When We Married A Year Ago She Snuck This Inscription Into My Ring
Image credits: frad_darsh
#56 Someone Stole A Kid’s Razor Scooter In Our Neighborhood. An Anonymous Neighbor Decided To Restore Some Joy Back For The Kid
Image credits: Nav_the_gamer
#57 A Kind Charity Group Puts A Sign On A Bridge To Discourage Suicide. Kind Londoners Enhance It With Positive Graffiti
Image credits: jacobsw
#58 We Got Married This Weekend
Image credits: rileyharp88
#59 4 Years Sober Today
Image credits: virginiapublicradio
#60 Came Across This Fridge Full Of Free Food In Hong Kong
Image credits: anoninhk1
#61 My Nephew’s Principal Dressed Up To Greet The Kids This Morning
Image credits: 3pmusic
#62 This Time, It’s The Tiny Humans Being Bros
I can’t stop crying. If anyone thought there was no hope in our kids and teens you’re wrong. The sole purpose of us putting this sign in our yard today was so kids wouldn’t run to our door and be disappointed (our neighborhood usually gets 300-400 kids).
I looked on our doorbell camera tonight and saw that kids had been stopping at the sign. T.J. Thomas and I just went outside and found this.
The picture doesn’t do it justice, it’s a lot and the good stuff even. Seriously. On the best candy night of the year kids freely and generously shared with strangers and showed so much love and kindness. So amazing!
Image credits: Courtney Thomas
#63 Today I Married My Best Friend
Image credits: Joshyboy28
#64 Spent Over 2 Years Growing My Hair. Donated It In 13 Inch Locks In My Daughter’s Name. Feels Good
Image credits: KungPowChicken23
#65 The First Number On My Scale Has Been A ‘2’ For The Past 21 Years, But Not Today
Image credits: ElvisIsATimeLord
#66 Only Three Days Out Of Brain Surgery, And My Love Is Up And Brushing His Teeth! I’m So Excited
Image credits: meowspoopy
#67 Mom’s Getting Dementia And Cannot Bake Her Christmas Cookies Anymore. I Collected All Her Recipes Over The Last Few Months During Times She Could Remember Them
I made this cookbook for all my family. The picture from 143 Germany was colorized by fellow Redditor
Image credits: Sekreid
#68 Wholesome Professor
Image credits: filip_103
#69 Couple Celebrates Their 60th Wedding Anniversary In Their Original Outfits
Image credits: Katie Autry Photography
#70 Cambodia Teen Who Joined The Race With An Old Bike Without Any Gears Even Without Shoes Now Get His New Bike By The Racing Community
Image credits: SovannaKEM168
#71 Sweetest Husband Out There
Image credits: aIexandria_nk
#72 I Built A Backyard Roller Coaster For My Grandkids
Image credits: BackyardCoasters
#73 I Really Want To Pay It Forward
Image credits: GolfDadNotes
#74 And Somehow It Made Me Feel Better
Image credits: stevebartlettsc
#75 This Cleaner Was Missing His Wife After Relocating To Another Country For Work
Image credits: nesma_farahat
#76 Early In The Pandemic, Two Dads Found Themselves At Home. They Challenged Each Other To A Cookie Bakeoff, And Invited First Responders To Be The Judges
Since then, more than 100 bakers have joined in. They’ve made more than 15,000+ cookies and cakes for essential workers
Image credits: Jeremy Uhrich
#77 Shoutout To My Neighbors Being Bros
Image credits: InvoluntaryInsomniac
#78 Sweet Boy Showed Up As A Puppy On Our Doorstep And Never Left! Guess He Knew We Liked Black And White Dogs
Image credits: NuggetsReef
#79 Phoebe’s Weight Loss Journey Is Going Well
Image credits: oythisisridiculous
#80 My First Responder Organisation Has A Christmas Event, Where People Can Send Gifts For Families Who Can’t Afford Them. This Year We Received Over 1000 For My State Alone
Image credits: PanParaMed
#81 French Grandma Knits Clothes For Street Poles
Image credits: sexybangbang93
#82 This One Made Me Smile
Image credits: RiverboatRonHC
#83 This Flight Attendant Doing Extraordinary Service To Help Out This Older Lady
Image credits: rsestabillo
#84 Doubletree Hotel Goes Above And Beyond For My 4-Year-Old Son
I made a reservation at Doubletree, and they asked what brought me to the area. I mentioned on the phone that my son, AJ, was turning 4 and we were taking a father-son trip to Kennedy space center and were going to go surfing in the Atlantic. This is the room when we showed up. They did the gift bag, boogie board, banner, everything!
Image credits: BigPapiC-Dog
#85 A Few Weeks Ago I Woke Up From Emergency Surgery And Found I Could Not Walk Anymore
A few days ago I managed to stand up and walk a bit with a walking stick. So many smiles!
Image credits: UnusualSoup
#86 This Bus Driver Got Out Of The Bus And Put Himself In The Way So The Kids Wouldn’t Get Injured By A Careless Driver
Image credits: MajorDisaster123
#87 Despite Depression, Anxiety, Not Being Able To Go Home Back In Colombia For The Summer And See My Family I Was Able To Get My Bachelor’s Degree
Image credits: asdfghjkldana
#88 My Little Cousin Has Severe Autism. She Loves Opening Mail, So We Reached Out To Our Friends And Family And Got Her Some Mail To Open For Her Birthday Next Month
Image credits: HoneyNutz
#89 A Missing Dog Sign Was Posted Outside Of My Work This Week
This little boy is the only person I have seen stop to read it. After thoroughly reading it, he begged his mom to take a picture of the sign as she waited impatiently. Now I know there is at least one more person looking for Ollie.
Image credits: Dunham1409
#90 Above And Beyond Customer Service
Image credits: sluggerb
#91 Very Proud Of My Wife Who Met Her Goal Of Donating Over 1000 Ounces (30 Liters) Of Breast Milk In Addition To Nursing Our Daughter
Image credits: jprime84
#92 Sweet But Sad. Rip Kyle
Image credits: ItsJaaaaake
#93 After A Long Road Of Mental Health & Financial Recovery, I Finally Have My Very Own Place
Image credits: girldannydevito
#94 This Is The Way
Image credits: SunsetSoFresh
#95 These Fellas Are Legends
Image credits: tweetymonkey
#96 Our Sea Urchins Like To Cover Their Heads So We 3D Printed Them Some Hats
Image credits: VanillaBean5813
#97 Tough Day At Work, But Random Number Made Up For It
Image credits: mikasaur21
#98 FedEx Decided To Get Creative On Me
Image credits: roofusthedoofus
#99 This Man Is Asking Geek Squad To Come To His House And Set Up Skype For His Thanksgiving Plans
Image credits: LivewireCK
#100 I’ve Lived In America For 17 Years – Over Half Of My Life. Today, I Finally Became An American
Image credits: Nkosi868
#101 Professor Takes Care Of Student’s Baby, So She Could Study During Lecture
One of my Intro students sent me this pic of my colleague, Arkansas State University physics professor Bruce Johnson. She had a daycare conflict, so he told her to bring her baby to a study session. Then this happened.
She said, “He cares so much about the success of his students.” Clearly.
Image credits: Kelly Damphousse
#102 Just Made It To My Mom’s In Arizona, Made Me Smile
Image credits: smokemygames
#103 Just Got My Covid Vaccine
Image credits: yourlocalbeertender
#104 My 95-Year-Old Grandma Sent Me $20 To Donate To The Animal Rescue Group I Just Started Volunteering For
Image credits: herefortherighteddit
#105 Found Downtown Vancouver
Image credits: dentistMCnuggets
#106 I Posted On Our Local Sub Looking For 2 Families To Help With Thanksgiving Dinner. A Random Stranger Sent Me $100 And That 2 Families Turned Into 4. Be The Change You Want To See In The World
Image credits: saft999