15 News Stories That Show 2015 Was The Most Amazing Year Ever

It's official: the world is a fabulous place to be.

Dec 21, 2015
Happy moments from 2016

Happy moments from 2016

By all accounts, 2015 was a big year. It was a year of massive news events that drew world attention and inspiring viral trends, of space exploration and scientific achievement. And alongside global tales of hardship and challenges, 2015 brought us some incredible stories - happy happenings that prove people are awesome, and that the world is a fabulous place to be.

These 15 stories shine a light on the best of humanity. They feature people helping others in the biggest and most beautiful ways, initiatives that remind us what’s really important in life, and the electric power of masses of people all around the world coming together in positive ways.

1. WHEN THE U.N. EMPOWERED VOLUNTEERS TO MAKE PEACE

Peacebuilding has now moved into the hands of individuals with the United Nation’s new resolution that was passed on November 26, 2015. Titled “Integrating volunteering into peace and development: the plan of action for the next decade and beyond,” the resolution acknowledges the role of volunteers in poverty reduction, sustainable development, health, humanitarian action, and, of course, peacebuilding.

3. WHEN JON STEWART ANNOUNCED HIS ANIMAL SANCTUARY

Comedian Jon Stewart is done with make people laugh for a living - and he’s moving on to giving rescued factory farm animals a loving home. He and his wife Tracey purchased a 12-acre farm in Middletown, New Jersey to house the animal sanctuary, and plan to work in coordination with the animal rights nonprofit Farm Sanctuary.

4. WHEN THE INTERNET CAME TOGETHER TO SUPPORT TRANS RIGHTS

When a 2015 Vanity Fair issue featured Caitlyn Jenner on the cover, the trans community came alive online, sharing proud photos that shine a light on the spectrum of different faces in the trans community. This viral, grassroots initiative made it abundantly clear: there is no one single definition of beauty.

5. WHEN HALF A MILLION PEOPLE MEDITATED AT THE SAME TIME

In July, 2015, more than 500,000 people from around the world joined together in a massive virtual meditation session. Spearheaded by the spiritual and holistic health leader Deepak Chopra, the initiative brought people together for a few moments of contemplation - either alone or with a group - to spread compassion, love and empathy throughout the world. 

6. WHEN REI CHOSE TO OPT OUTSIDE FOR BLACK FRIDAY

The outdoor merchandising company REI took it upon itself to change the way we mark Black Friday this year, by pioneering the #OptOutside pledge. In the words of REI’s CEO:

For 76 years, our co-op has been dedicated to one thing and one thing only: a life outdoors. We believe that being outside makes our lives better. And Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of this essential truth. We're a different kind of company—and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently. We’re choosing to opt outside, and want you to come with us.”

7. WHEN THE WORLD UNITED IN SOLIDARITY WITH PARIS

The Brandenburg Gate lit up with French colors (360b / Shutterstock.com)13.

The Brandenburg Gate lit up with French colors (360b / Shutterstock.com)

8. WHEN EUROPEANS WELCOMED REFUGEES WITH OPEN ARMS

News from Germany warmed headlines of an otherwise frosty topic in 2015, with inspiring photos and videos of locals welcoming Syrian refugees arriving in Europe in search of a safe haven. Around the country - especially in large cities like Munich and Berlin - refugees were welcomed by large cheering crowds, food and donations of warm clothing.

9. WHEN 930,000 VOLUNTEERS TOOK PART IN GOOD DEEDS DAY

Good Deeds Day – a worldwide event in which on one single day, hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world perform good deeds - reached new peaks in its 2015 celebration. Almost one million people in 58 countries participated in Good Deed Day 2015, giving together more than 3 million hours of volunteering.

10. WHEN FRANCE PASSED A LAW CALLING FOR GREEN ROOF TOPS

The French parliament passed a law in 2015 that mandates that new buildings constructed in a commercial zone must partially cover their roofs in either plants or solar panels. What a beautiful breath of fresh air. 

11. WHEN SESAME STREET INTRODUCED A MUPPET WITH AUTISM

Sesame Street's autistic character, Julia

Julia displays several autistic qualities, including flapping her arms when she's excited (abcnews)

12. WHEN A HUMMUS BAR OFFERED A DISCOUNT FOR PEACE

In the often volatile landscape of the Middle East, Kobi Tzafrir is offering a 50 percent discount to Jews and Arabs who share a meal at his restaurant, Humus Bar. The promotion was posted to the restaurant’s Facebook page and translates to, “Here, there are no Arabs, but also no Jews. We have human beings!” Peace by chick peas!

13. WHEN AMY POEHLER BROUGHT FEMINISM TO THE RED CARPET

If you could ask an actor or actress on the red carpet anything you wanted, what would you ask? This was the question that Amy Poehler posed to teenage girls on Twitter ahead of the 2015 Emmy Awards, in an effort to steer awards show journalism away from fashion, relationships and trivialities and onto more serious subjects. What followed was a simple and inspiring viral campaign.

15. WHEN GEORGE LUCAS LAUNCHED HIS AFFORDABLE HOUSING PLAN

What a year! Here’s to an even better 2016.


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