I invited a handful of people I admire to share the things that made them feel good this past year because 2017 feels marked as a "bad" year, and that's not the way I want to remember it. The following 44 moments, stories, podcasts, etc brought joy and hope to my friends this past year, and I hope they'll bring joy and hope to you too.


An Outpouring of Love & Support
"My older brother was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, and after a friend set up a GoFund me account, the goal was met and exceeded three times within as many days. Have never been so overwhelmed by the support of friends and other people who love my brother and our family. It made it impossible to wallow. (He's doing great by the way! We are absolutely overcome with gratitude.)" - Annie Wilkins

A Badass Halloween Costume
My daughter as the Lone Ranger makes me pretty happy too." - Clint Runge

A Cancer-Free Announcement Video
"My friend Ryan battled cancer this year and shared almost every bit of the journey online. While it was sometimes hard to watch, his unbelievably positive attitude also made it inspiring. This video was the ultimate payoff — a beautiful, authentic moment from him and his wife." - Tyler Riewer

A Historic Day at The Women’s March
"This was the first time since the election that I felt a sense of unity and hope. They also made a photo book called Why We March with photos from the women's march taken from all over the world. My daughter, Chloe, somehow made it into the book and I couldn't have been prouder." - Greg Yagoda

"I think the Women's March in DC was one of the most moving, exciting, cathartic, communal and hopeful experiences I've ever had. It felt real and genuine and important and shined such a light into the dark places that have shifted our collective consciousness over the past few years. It was empowering and sparked so many people I know and love to continue to take action and to mobilize in a way we never had before. I will never forget it!" - Annie Wilkins


Obama "Fired Up"
"It's hard to not be nostalgic for the Obama era after watching this. But it still makes me happy and motivates me to take some action and start by changing my attitude." - Jake Kahana

‘Everything’ Video Game Trailer
"I've watched this trailer a dozen times, but still haven't played the game. It's a beautiful way to think about your place in the world." - Denny McFadden

The 'Stranger Things' Kids Were Nearly a Motown Super Group
"What else do you really need to know here? The kids from Stranger Things team up with James Corden to make magic as a Motown cover band called The Upside Downs." - Tyler Riewer

How to Hack Amazon Prime for Good
One man sets out to demonstrate how easy and convenient it can be to bring a person in need, what they need, and to encourage that behavior. (via Jake Kahana)

Jimmy Kimmel’s Tribute to Don Rickles
"I love the hell out of a man who will cry on television. This segment from Jimmy Kimmel is both an incredible tribute to a legend and also a truly authentic thank you. The stories are personal and hilarious. If you loved Don Rickles, you have to watch this." - Tyler Riewer

Tweens Are Too Pretty
"What is it about rants that are so funny? The truth of them suppose. I think perhaps only the ladies will appreciate this, but I love this girl. She is hilarious & so is this video." - Jamie Pent

Michelle Obama Surprises People Recording Goodbye Messages to Her
"Jimmy Fallon is just the best, isn’t he. This was a fantastic premise — find Michelle Obama admirers (all of us) and have them speak truth to a painting of her. Little do they know that she’s on the other side of the wall, waiting to surprise them." - Tyler Riewer

Man Sees Color for the First Time
"Oh man. What more do you need other than that title? This guy’s family surprises him for his birthday with a pair of glasses that give him the ability to see color. For the first time. Such a beautiful moment." - Tyler Riewer


In and Of Itself (Broadway)
"Most magic shows are about the tricks. But this show was deeply personal and about something– it will blow your mind.” - Jake Kahana

Stand Up Comedy
"There were too many good comedy specials this year, including people that weren't accused of sexual misconduct. Rory Scovel, Mike Birbiglia, Hasan Minhaj, Sarah Silverman, Joe Mande, and Norm McDonald." - Greg Yagoda

Master of None, Season 2
"It's pure art. Like the best painting you've ever seen or book you've read, it will make you want to talk about it and rewatch it in a year. Do yourself a favor." - Jake Kahana

I Love Dick
"An amazing performance by Kathryn Hahn. Adapted by Jill Soloway ("Transparent") and the playwright Sarah Gubbins from a cult novel by Chris Kraus. If you only watch one episode watch the fifth and best episode, which is just a collection of monologues by the cast of women artists. There’s so many things going on and so many good performances it is hard to boil it down. It’s not perfect but it’s interesting and thoughtful and funny and sad and worth telling people about. Just watch it." - Curtis Pachunka

Big Mouth
"Brilliant, raunchy, animated show on Neflix by Nick Kroll about adolescence. Binge watch it now." - Greg Yagoda

This Is Us
"My wife and I just started season 1 this past weekend. I know it's specifically designed to make me cry, but I still love it. As a Baltimore native, I didn't know it was possible to feel so much empathy for Steelers fans." - Denny McFadden

Equanimity & The Bird Revelation
"Love both of these specials. Every time I see Dave Chappell I wish he was doing more stuff every year. He is one of my all time favorites and in these two specials finds a masterful bridge between comedy and current political and social issues. But what I love most about these is that he is fearless about his comedy and fucking around on stage even if it makes people angry (which it will) hopefully at the end of 2017 we should learn how to show others empathy and lighten up and laugh a little." - Curtis Pachunka


The Big Sick
"One of my favorite films of the year. A romantic comedy about an interracial couple dealing with cultural differences between their families. It's heartwarming and hilarous. Annnnnd it's a true story." - Tyler Riewer

"Wonder, an elementary coming-of-age movie, will make anyone with kids certain that there’s hope for every single one of them out there. Watch the trailer!" -Clint Runge


Words with Unlikely Friends (Mashable)
"This story is about a 22-year-old rapper from NYC who became best friends with an 86-year-old woman from Florida by playing Words with Friends. He even flew to Florida to meet her." - Greg Yagoda

3 Under 3 (New Yorker)
"It's easy to get caught up in the feelings of not being good enough when the 30 under 30 comes out and you didn't make it again. And also you're 32. So this makes me feel more comfortable in not being famous." - Jake Kahana

Stuck by Jonathan Harris
"This year, I've felt pretty stuck. Reading this reminded me that being stuck is normal and healthy and important for exploration and growth. And human." - Jake Kahana

How Sesame Street Created Julia, the New Muppet with Autism (CBS News)
"Sesame Street introduced its first ever muppet with autism. To develop Julia, the team worked closely with autism organizations, educators, and families to decide the best way to portray a child with autism, including how to explain autism at a pre-school level." - Anthony Marinos

I Work from Home (New Yorker)
"If you've ever worked from home, I dare you not to laugh at this." - Jake Kahana

John Early is Comedy’s Secret Weapon (Esquire)
"Seeing John Early live was probably the best decision I made all year, and basically everything he does (on screen or on stage) brings me joy. This dude truly shined a bright light of hilarity into some of the darkest politically-depressing holes I found myself in this year, and did so with such PURE LIGHTNESS I almost feel indebted to him. I love him to the moon and back for existing. This interview kind of nails it. Amazing videos imbedded too." - Annie Wilkins

Anonymous donor buys every toy at Goodwill, gives them to kids (WSB-TV)
"For nearly a decade now, an anonymous donor in Ft. Collins, CO has bought every toy at the local Goodwill so that any child that enters the door leaves with something. This year the donor and his wife watched as children crowded around the toy section, and then they left the store unnoticed." - Anthony Marinos

Based on a True Story by Norm Macdonald
"A book about his life that is true and also made up. You never know what is true or made up or just a memory that he isn’t remembering in full detail. It’s funny and weird and really good." - Curtis Pachunka

I'm Trying. Try with Me.
"My coworker Anthony shared this story on Facebook. It’s an interaction he had with a homeless man in New York City that inspired a mantra and new way of life. A lovely feel-good sentiment." - Tyler Riewer

This 89-Year-Old Couldn't Live Alone. So Her Nice 31-Year-Old Neighbor Became Her Caretaker. (TIME)
"A 31-year-old man in Los Angeles moved in with his 89-year-old neighbor in order to provide her with 24-hour love and care throughout her final days." - Anthony Marinos


Pod Save America
"It's not normally the kind of podcast I like listening to, but it's helped me to feel good and hopeful and not alone in keeping up with the news and having strong opinions about how to take action during this administration." - Jake Kahana

Labi Siffre
"In the Spring, Labi Siffre showed up in my Spotify Discover Weekly and he became the soundtrack to my Summer. He has the voice of an angel." - Denny McFadden

The music this year
"Given the state of America and our insistence on going backwards, the music was a counter. It pushed us forward. It kept us dreaming, hoping, wondering, working. It was full of beauty, hope, outrage, unity, solidarity, and, most of all, truth." - Justin Kemerling

Blinded by Your Grace by Stormzy
"Whether you believe in three Gods, no God, or some kind of mythical Pizza-Lord, I promise you that you’ll feel this song in your bones. It’s the one I came back to time and again when I was stressed or tired or mad. And religion-aside, it always changed my attitude." - Tyler Riewer


"I know it's a slight personal plug, but the idea of blocking notifications and hiding my phone in favor of getting more work done has unhooked me from social media and helped me focus more. It's totally changed how I think about work and get stuff done." - Jake Kahana

Reading Real Books
"Even though I love the Internet deep down and my work depends on it, I’m also loosing my patience with it. Fake news, trolls, the alt-right, relentless ads, how Facebook can be terrible, etc. Give me powerful ideas wrapped up in a tactile object made of paper." - Justin Kemerling

Painting Daily
"Having a daily practice of making art, even for just 15 minutes a day, has helped reconnect me to my 8 year old self and just a pure joy of making again." - Jake Kahana

NYTimes Crossword Puzzle App
"The NYT crossword puzzle has become a daily habit this year. It's way more fun than opening the real NYTimes." - Denny McFadden

The Dundee Theater in Omaha
"And even though I’m bias, I have to say the Dundee Theater. It’s a beautiful place newly restored in the middle of Omaha. Need to escape the political madness? Go see a film." - Justin Kemerling

Following Dogs on Instagram
"My wife has unfollowed all of her friends on instagram and only follows dogs. It makes her so happy to check it, especially before bed." - Jake Kahana

Mr. Bingo
"Funny British artist that I bought some prints of this year. He is a dark sarcastic funny person and that comes through in his Hate Mail book or his nude scratch off advent calendar. Check his art out. It’s not expensive and its good for a laugh." - Curtis Pachunka

Making My Own Hot Sauce
"Sometimes the best thing in life is going to the farmer’s market, buying a pound of spicy peppers you’ve never heard of, and experimenting. This year, I went from small jars of this-and-that to a stacked fridge full of bottles. It was my favorite hobby of the year. Need hot sauce?! CALL ME." - Tyler Riewer

"I began CrossFit in March and have obsessively attended class ever since. I follow & watch any and all forms of crossfit stories from the elite athletes to the average joes. Where many sports you have to take sides, this is such an individual sport, in many ways, that we all cheer each other on through every success and failure. It is inclusive in ways that I have no seen in other sports. I have found myself weeping in celebration & awe seeing adaptive athletes do things I can't yet. But even in my own gym we had a friendly competition with a sister gym. During the competition one of the girls who was racing to beat this other team, got her first muscle up and the entire room just erupted. None of the competition mattered because she just did something she had never done! It was a beautiful moment! It's been an inspiring 9 months to say the least." - Jamie Pent

Very special thank you to:
Greg Yagoda, Jake Kahana, Annie Wilkins, Denny McFadden, Clint Runge, Justin Kemerling, Luke Leighfield, Anthony Marinos, Curtis Pachunka, Jamie Pent.

Still here? Go see some other years!