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The Simplest Moments Bring the Most Joy, Studies Show

Everyone has a thing or two that makes us happy and, most times, it’s something simple. A popular media house asked readers to tell them about the little things or moments that bring them happiness.

Happiness researcher and Washington University Assistant Dean Timothy Bono says there is scientific evidence to back up many of the comments.

Pets

Our shattered hearts are healed, our spirits are brightened, and we are reminded to stop working so hard by those dogs and cats. As Carmen Martel-Stempel of Chelmsford, Ontario, learned, they can also be terrific travel companions. It was last summer when the couple decided to pack up their truck and head out of town with Gretel, their pet dog.

When we set out, we had no goals or agenda; we just drove off. Even though we weren’t sure how many hotels would accept our puppy, we decided to go ahead and do it anyway!” She went on to say that It was a joy to have this small dog accompany us on our travels across the country for the entire 10 days we were gone.

Bono, a Psychology lecturer as well as a pet owner, says: “Pet owners generally feel a better level of satisfaction, reduced levels of distress, but they often appear to be more attentive and outgoing.”

Children

Mother in Erie, Pennsylvania, Andrea Meyer Dembski, says her 4-year-old child Tyler usually makes her giggle.

The other day, when one of our pets died, he noticed me sobbing and told me, ‘Mom, you can’t be upset. The weeping is just for children, and you are not a baby.'”

Rebekah Heiner, a resident of Newport News, Virginia, recalled the instant she went outside to find her hubby and their 5-year-old child completely covered in leaves. He had gone out to blow leaves but it became play time and it taught Rebekah not to take matters too seriously.

While Bono was unaware of any studies linking childhood experiences with happiness, “if you ask individuals to recall their favorite moments, they will often include events shared with family members,” he said in a statement.

One of the most important indicators of our overall well-being is the quality of our relationships with others.

Vacation

What’s not to love about taking in the sights of the world? Taking a huge vacation with her mother once a year helps feed 38-year-old Lisa Meneses, of Kansas City, adventurous spirit. They had just returned from a trip to India and Nepal when we spoke to them.

Meneses believes that everyone should experience “the vastness and awe-inspiring beauty of this world.”

Traveling to new areas allows us to “break the boredom of our everyday lives by venturing into unfamiliar cultures, experiencing new delicacies, and exposing one’s self to exploration and discovery that aren’t even parts of our typical activities,” Bono stated.

The length of a trip is not proportional to how happy you will be on it, according to him. According to him, it may be better to have two brief vacations, divided by a few months, than to take a large holiday every year. Both experiences and memories would be there to relive and reflect on for a long time to come.

Nature

“We could have a gorgeous day, anticipating a magnificent sunset, and somehow the fog sweeps in,” says Lucy Wilk – so once you can notice it, they’re a pleasure.

The weather in Athens, Illinois, is “a bright and sunny with a light breeze,” says Erica Hostetler.

Walking in nature on a sunny day, according to Bono’s research, can instantly improve one’s attitude.

An oak tree in full splendor, or a budding rose, might provide an oasis of calm in an otherwise hectic, stressful, and frenetic existence. To lift our spirits when we’re feeling low and uninspired, a brisk walk for a few minutes outdoors may be exactly what we need.

Breakfast

A delicious breakfast sandwich or a cup of cereal is the go-to for some people in the mornings.

Having a cup of coffee in the morning is all Donna Fonvergne needs to get going.

The simple joy of drinking coffee was mentioned by a large number of persons. “Feel-good” neurotransmitter dopamine is known to be triggered in the brain when caffeine is consumed, according to Bono’s statement. San Antonio resident Brianna Williamson offers another viewpoint. She describes the scent as “uplifting and reassuring” on its own. When I drink coffee, I am reminded that happiness comes from inside.

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A Small Act of Kindness That Saved a Life

Kelly Taylor

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In 2014, Trieste Belmont found herself in the depths of depression, grappling with the recent loss of her grandmother and the pain of a breakup with her partner. She was facing a challenging period in her life, relying on friends to give her rides to and from work as she didn’t have a driver’s license. Little did she know that a small act of kindness from a stranger would ultimately save her life.

One fateful day, as she waited for her ride to work, Belmont experienced a heartbreaking disappointment. Her ride failed to show up, leaving her stranded and feeling isolated. With no other option in sight, she made the decision to walk home, embarking on a path that would take her across a high bridge.

As she walked along that bridge, Belmont’s thoughts grew increasingly bleak. She was overwhelmed by the weight of her despair, feeling like a burden on the people in her life. In that moment, she believed that ending her life was the only solution to her pain.

“I was just having one of the worst days of my life. And I was looking down at all the cars, just feeling so useless and like such a burden to everyone in my life that I decided that this was the time, and I needed to end my life,” Belmont recalled, tears in her eyes.

With a heavy heart, she stood at the edge of the bridge, ready to take that fateful step. But in that moment of darkness, a voice from a passing car behind her pierced through her despair. A stranger shouted, “Don’t jump.” Those two simple words had an enormous impact on Belmont.


“Those words just changed everything for me,” she said. “Having a stranger care about me in my darkest time made it so that I didn’t jump, and it saved my life.”

Trieste Belmont’s story is a powerful reminder of the profound impact that small acts of kindness can have on someone’s life, especially when they are facing their darkest moments. Her journey towards healing didn’t end on that bridge. With the support of a therapist, family, and friends, she found her way to a brighter place.

Today, Trieste Belmont is in a much better place mentally and emotionally, and she has an important message to share with the world. She emphasizes the importance of recognizing that even seemingly small gestures of kindness can make a significant difference in someone’s life.

“Even if you see someone that has a cute outfit on, telling them might make their day,” Belmont wisely advises. “They might be super depressed and worried about the way they look. But if you come in and you give them a small little compliment, it could change everything for them.”

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Hope on the Horizon: Wild Atlantic Salmon Making a Comeback in US Rivers

Jess

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The United States has witnessed a resurgence in the population of wild Atlantic salmon in its rivers. After years of decline, recent counts have revealed a remarkable increase.

One of the most significant milestones in this revival occurred in the Penobscot River, which hosts the largest run of Atlantic salmon in the country. In a recent count, approximately 1,500 salmon were recorded, marking the highest number since 2011. This encouraging resurgence suggests that efforts to protect and conserve these magnificent fish may be paying off.

For years, Atlantic salmon have faced numerous challenges that have led to their decline. Factors such as overfishing, loss of habitat, and pollution have taken a toll on their populations. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, Atlantic salmon were granted protection under the Endangered Species Act, a crucial step in their conservation journey.

Sean Ledwin, the director of the Maine Department of Marine Resources’ sea-run fish programs, believes that the increased survival of salmon may indeed be a result of these conservation measures. He stated, “The greater survival of the salmon could be evidence that conservation measures to protect them are paying off.”

But the story of salmon’s recovery isn’t just about one species. The count of river herring, another essential part of the river ecosystem, has also seen an upswing. This increase in river herring populations plays a critical role in the salmon’s precarious journey from the sea to the river. According to Ledwin, “The increasing runs of river herring help distract hungry predators such as seals and striped bass from the relatively rarer Atlantic salmon, which may help increase salmon survival of the predator gauntlet.”

However, while the recent progress is undoubtedly cause for celebration, experts like Greg McCaw, a scientist with the Maine Department of Marine Resources, urge caution. “So it is a tick up compared to previous years, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s still abysmal,” he cautioned. Conservationists recognize that much work remains to be done to ensure the long-term survival of this cherished species.

In New England, conservation groups have been tirelessly working to remove dams and restore salmon habitats. The recent gains in salmon populations have emboldened these organizations, such as the Atlantic Salmon Federation, to continue their vital efforts.

Yet, the challenges facing Atlantic salmon extend beyond the local level. Climate change poses a growing threat to their survival. Neville Crabbe, a spokesperson for the Atlantic Salmon Federation, emphasized that global action is needed to address the root causes of climate change and its impacts on salmon populations. “It’s going to take a commitment from everybody in the world to reduce emissions, and try to negate the most severe implications of climate change,” he noted.

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Honest Thrift Shop Manager Returns Lost $5,000 Regular Donor

Renee Yates

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In the charming town of Burlingame, California, where community values and integrity shine brightly, a heartwarming story of honesty and goodwill has unfolded. At the heart of this tale is Oliver Jolis, the dedicated manager of Pick of the Litter, a beloved thrift shop in Burlingame. Oliver’s remarkable act of integrity touched the hearts of many, reinforcing the values of honesty and kindness.

Oliver Jolis was going about his usual business at the thrift shop, sorting through bags of donated clothes with care and dedication. Little did he know that an unexpected surprise was about to unfold. As he organized the donated clothing, something unusual began to happen—money started to fall out of the garments.

“Money just started falling out,” recalled Jolis. “Money flew out of the shirt! We went ‘uh oh’,” added his co-worker, Amy Walsh. The cash kept pouring out, and soon they realized they were dealing with a substantial sum—$5,000, to be exact. Alongside the money, they found a piece of paper with car insurance information, which provided a valuable clue to the owner’s identity.

Rather than succumbing to temptation, Oliver Jolis and his co-workers decided to take the high road. They embarked on a mission to locate the rightful owner of the money. What they discovered was truly heartwarming: the generous donor who had unknowingly parted with $5,000 was a regular contributor to the thrift shop.

“I said come on down, I’ve got something for you,” Jolis recounted. The woman who regularly donated clothes to the shop returned, likely unaware of the treasure that had been concealed within her donations. Oliver handed her a paper bag containing the $5,000 and expressed his gratitude for her continued support.

“He could have just put the money in his pocket. Nobody would have known. But he didn’t,” acknowledged the woman whose generosity had unintentionally included the significant sum. Her appreciation for Oliver’s honesty and kindness was evident, and she expressed her trust in his character.

Residents of San Mateo, Burlingame, and beyond were quick to applaud Oliver Jolis for his integrity. Trina Pierce, a San Mateo resident, voiced her admiration, saying, “I wasn’t surprised he found it and gave it back. We just love Oliver. The whole staff is great, but Oliver is special.”

Oliver himself believes in the profound principle that the universe rewards acts of goodness and kindness. “Whatever you do in this world comes back to you ten times, be it negativity or positivity, it comes back,” the anonymous woman remarked, reflecting on the beauty of Oliver’s selfless actions.

In the end, Oliver Jolis humbly summarized the experience: “We’re grateful for all the donations we get, so it was a win-win.” His actions remind us that honesty and goodwill are timeless virtues that can bring communities closer together and inspire us all to do the right thing when faced with unexpected challenges.

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The Remarkable Return of New Zealand’s Takahe Birds

Renee Yates

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In the breathtaking landscapes of New Zealand’s South Island, a remarkable story of resilience and conservation is unfolding. The Takahe, a prehistoric bird thought to be extinct, has made a triumphant return to the wild, thanks to dedicated efforts by conservationists.

The Takahe, scientifically known as Porphyrio hochstetteri, is a unique bird native to New Zealand. These remarkable birds are not your typical feathered friends; they have a striking appearance with vibrant blue-green plumage, oversized red beaks, and large, sturdy legs. Once upon a time, Takahe birds roamed freely in New Zealand’s lush landscapes, but their population began to dwindle.

In 1898, these majestic birds were declared extinct. It was believed that the Takahe had vanished from the face of the Earth forever. However, nature had a surprise in store for us. In 1948, more than half a century after their supposed extinction, Takahe birds were rediscovered in the remote and pristine wilderness of New Zealand’s South Island, specifically in the Lake Whakatipu Waimaori Valley.

The rediscovery of the Takahe was a momentous event, sparking hope and renewed interest in their conservation. It became evident that immediate action was required to ensure the survival of these magnificent creatures. Conservationists embarked on a mission to protect and nurture the remaining Takahe population.

One of the initial strategies employed by conservationists was proactive and hands-on. They began collecting Takahe eggs and carefully incubating them in controlled environments. This approach was designed to shield the vulnerable eggs from predators that posed a significant threat to the survival of the species.

As the eggs hatched and adorable Takahe chicks emerged, they received special attention. Conservationists played a vital role in feeding and nurturing these young birds, ensuring they had the best possible start in life. Workers even donned sock puppets resembling the Takahe’s unique red beaks to feed and interact with the chicks, a heartwarming sight in the name of conservation.

Over time, the strategy evolved to focus on breeding Takahe birds in controlled environments. This approach allowed for more precise monitoring of the birds’ health and ensured their safety. Additionally, conservationists intensified efforts to protect the Takahe from their main threats – predators like stoats, ferrets, and feral cats.

Deidre Vercoe, who oversees the Takahē recovery operations at the Department of Conservation (DOC), emphasized the importance of trapping these predators to reduce their numbers. By maintaining a low predator count, conservationists have created a safer environment for the Takahe to thrive.

Thanks to these unwavering efforts, the Takahe population has been steadily increasing. Today, there are approximately 500 Takahe birds, a testament to the power of conservation and the determination to protect and preserve New Zealand’s unique wildlife.

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Marquette Student’s Open Iggy’s Market – A Sustainable Solution for Affordability and Waste Reduction

Kelly Taylor

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In a powerful step towards sustainability and affordability, a Marquette University student-led initiative is transforming the way students approach the end of the academic year and the start of a new one. As the academic year draws to a close, students often face the challenge of discarding unwanted items, resulting in an unfortunate increase in waste. However, Marquette’s forward-thinking program, aptly named Iggy’s Market, is redefining this scenario by turning discarded belongings into a resourceful solution that benefits both the environment and the student community.

The brainchild of a Marquette student, Iggy’s Market is a cornerstone of the university’s larger sustainability program, Markept. The ingenious program aims to repurpose used items, ranging from school supplies to furniture and household goods, which are collected through student donations and even retrieved from nearby dumpsters. These gently-used items find a new lease on life through Iggy’s Market, where they are offered at affordable prices or even given away for free.

Incoming students, who often bear the brunt of purchasing necessities, eagerly anticipate the fall yard sale hosted by Iggy’s Market. It offers them the opportunity to acquire much-needed items without breaking the bank. “I just moved here a week ago. Everything is coming in piece by piece,” shared Timothy Wotring, a graduate student from Ohio, adding that the market was a potential solution for furnishing his new space.

For Marquette University Law School student Brady Wirkes, the market offered a cost-effective solution to brightening up his living space. “I was looking for lamps. My friends and I are in a really dark apartment, so we thought it would be good to buy some lamps, and they’re so cheap so it’s like, you can’t not get them,” he expressed.

Iggy’s Market not only makes college life more affordable but also contributes to a greener future. Chelsea Malacara, the sustainability and energy management coordinator for Marquette, highlighted the sense of accomplishment that comes with diverting usable items from landfills. “It is a very rewarding thing to know all these things are not going to go into the landfill and that it’s helping students make college more affordable,” she said.

Beyond affordability and environmental impact, the program is creating a sense of belonging and comfort for international students like Onyeka Idemili. “It’s so much of a relief being that you are so far away from home and you have to get some things to keep in the house. Having it for very much of a lesser price and for some of the things very free as well is a way for international students (who are) settling, you know, kind of make a home away from home,” explained Idemili.

As Iggy’s Market continues to flourish and thrive, it exemplifies the power of student-driven initiatives to create positive change within their communities. Moreover, any funds generated through the program will be reinvested to ensure its self-sustainability, solidifying Iggy’s Market as a lasting testament to Marquette University’s commitment to both its students and the planet.

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