We all need a reason to smile. Though sometimes, on life’s rollercoaster, it can be difficult to feel optimistic.
But no matter what life throws at us, it can help to remember that there’s always good in the world – sometimes we just can’t see it right away.
At Rest Less, we’re all about good vibes, so we wanted to bring you 20 happy facts that we hope will make your day a little better. We’d love to know in the comments below which ones you enjoyed most.
1. There’s a tiny Polish village where everything is painted with pictures of flowers
Many years ago in a small Polish village called Zalipie, someone painted a flower on a ceiling to cover up a soot stain caused by a stove. Soot stains used to be common because the ventilation of houses was poor, so the idea of using painted flowers to cover up these marks began to catch on.
Before long, the houses, churches, bridges, and barns in the village were all covered in flowers and in the spring of 1948, they began to hold a Painted Cottage Competition (also known as Malowana Chata). Initially, the purpose of this competition was to help Poland psychologically recover from the tragic events that it suffered in World War II.
Today, Zalipie is a unique and vibrant village, with stunning displays of painted flowers everywhere you look. A trip here would certainly be unforgettable!
2. A male gentoo penguin will propose to a female gentoo penguin by giving her a pebble
Most penguins mate for life and when a male penguin meets a female penguin he likes, he’ll propose to her by giving her a pebble. He’ll usually look for the smoothest pebble he can find (and he may steal one from another penguin if he doesn’t come across one that’s suitable!).
If the female approves, she’ll place the pebble in her nest and the two will prepare to start a family by continuing to build on their pebble mound.
3. One man's blood donation saved more than 2 million babies' lives
An Australian man, known as ‘the man with the golden arm’, donated blood every week for 60 years before retiring at the age of 81. The Australian Red Cross Blood Service said that his astonishing 1,100 donations helped to save the lives of more than 2.4 million babies.
James Harrison’s blood has unique, disease-fighting antibodies that are needed to create anti-D injections. These injections fight rhesus disease and are used to help pregnant women, whose blood would otherwise attack their unborn babies.
James is one of fewer than 50 people in Australia whose blood carries these important antibodies.
4. Red squirrels will adopt other red squirrel babies
A team of Canadian researchers found that red squirrels will adopt orphan squirrels who’re closely related to them.
It’s still not quite clear how squirrels determine whether a baby squirrel is related to them but researchers have hypothesised that they listen to the sound of their calls. If they recognise the vocals, they may carry the adoptees back to their nest and raise them as their own.
However, the number of orphans red squirrels will adopt often depends on how many babies of their own they already have to feed.
5. A village in India plants 111 trees every time a baby girl is born
In the village of Piplantri in Rajasthan, they plant 111 trees to celebrate the birth of every baby girl. This tradition was started by former village leader Shyam Sundar Paliwal in memory of his young daughter who passed away. In Indian culture, the number 111 is said to bring success.
This is a stark contrast to attitudes towards females in many other parts of India, where (because of the dowry system), they have historically been seen as a financial burden on their families and may experience violence as a result. Traditionally, many women are married before the age of 18 and don’t receive a full education.
As well as planting trees, the people of Piplantri also set up a trust fund of 31,000 rupees for each girl born, so that she’ll never be considered a financial burden to her parents. The parents also sign a legal affidavit that states that their daughter will only be married after she has reached the age of 18 and received a proper education.
6. Quokkas are known as 'the happiest animal in the world'
Quokkas (pronounced “kwaa-ka”) are small rounded animals who live in Western Australia – and National Geographic has called them ‘the happiest animal on Earth’.
Not only do they appear to have a permanent smile on their faces, but they’re also incredibly friendly and will hop right up to you. In some cases, they’ve even posed for a selfie!
7. Samsung tests how strong their smartphones using a bum-shaped robot
We all know that smartphones need to be durable to withstand the wear and tear of everyday life, as well as any accidents. But have you ever wondered how companies test that they’re up to the job?
Samsung performs a range of tests and one of them includes having a bum-shaped robot (wearing jeans!) sit on smartphones to see whether they can survive the pressure!
8. A group of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope
There are 17,500 species of butterfly spread across the world (everywhere except Antarctica).
You may be used to seeing these beautiful creatures either alone or in pairs, but every so often they do come together – usually around rotten fruit, mud, dung, or dead animals – to hydrate and replenish nutrients like sodium that they don’t get from their pollen diet.
When butterflies gather in this way, the group they form is called a kaleidoscope and it can offer a dazzling display of colours.
9. The centre of the milky way apparently smells like rum
Have you ever wondered what the centre of the milky way smells and tastes like? Nope, we haven’t either! But according to astronomers, the giant dust cloud would taste like raspberries due to the presence of ethyl formate (the chemical which gives raspberries their flavour).
This chemical also has another fascinating characteristic – it smells like rum!
10. There’s a village in the Netherlands that’s designed specifically to help people with dementia
The village of Hogeweyk in Weesp, Netherlands, is home to 188 residents who all have an advanced form of dementia. However, this village is completely unlike any other, as it’s actually a nursing home that’s designed to look like a village.
It has 27 houses that cater to four different types of lifestyle – nature-oriented, cosmopolitan, well-to-do, and traditional Dutch – and residents get to choose which suits them best.
Each house has six or seven residents and a carer who cooks, watches over them, goes with them to social events, and helps them run errands like shopping at the village market.
The village was designed to help give residents a greater quality of life and has become a great inspiration for others who’re looking to humanise dementia care.
11. One couple spent 20 years planting 2.7 million trees to restore their Brazilian rainforest home
Sebastião Salgado and his wife Lélia have proved that each and every one of us has the potential to make a difference in this world.
When Salgado, a Brazilian photojournalist, returned home from reporting on the 1994 Rwandan genocide, he was shocked to discover that his family’s old cattle ranch (which was part of a 1,754-acre stretch of Brazilian rainforest) had been completely destroyed by deforestation. Only about 0.5% of the land was covered in trees.
Salgado and his wife (with help from others) spent the next 20 years breathing new life into the forest by planting 2.7 million trees. Today, the area is a lush rainforest and many different species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians have returned.
12. A woman was reunited with her dog live on TV after a tornado destroyed her house
A Kentucky tornado survivor was separated from her beloved dog Nola after her house was destroyed. The woman was interviewed by a Dutch journalist as she scoured the rubble in hopes of finding her pet.
Partway through the interview, Nola pokes her head out from the rubble and her owner rushes to free her in a beautiful, tear-jerking reunion. Have your tissues ready!
13. Naps can be good for you
If you’re partial to an afternoon nap, you might be pleased to hear that naps can actually be actually good for us! A short-mid afternoon nap (lasting 10-20 minutes) is thought to improve learning, boost memory, regulate emotions, and reduce sleepiness.
One study also found that people who napped once or twice a week had a lower risk of cardiovascular events.
However, whether a nap is more helpful than harmful can depend on things like age, the reason for your nap, and the length and time of your nap. To get tips on having the best nap, it’s worth reading this helpful guide from the Sleep Foundation.
14. There are dogs that can surf
The list of things that our furry friends can do is growing and surfing is fast becoming a popular canine pastime.
Apparently, dog surfing dates back to the 1930s in California and Hawaii – but since then, things have progressed so much that the World Dog Surfing Championships now take place every year in the San Francisco Bay area. You can check out the video below to see what the event is like!
Or, if you love the idea of dog surfing and want to hang ten with your canine companion, you could even enrol them in some surf lessons.
However, you’ll need to head to the south coast, as the concept of dog surfing is still developing in the UK. At present, the only school currently running is Paws on Board in Dorset!
15. People email love letters to trees
In 2013, an online program was set up by the city of Melbourne to allow people to easily report fallen trees or dangerous branches. However, things took an unusual turn when people began emailing in letters addressed to the trees, professing their love and gratitude – and just checking in to see how they are.
One email dated 2nd February 2015 and addressed to Algerian Oak, Tree ID 1032705 read…
“Dear Algerian oak, Thank you for giving us oxygen. Thank you for being so pretty. I don’t know where I’d be without you to extract my carbon dioxide. (I would probably be in heaven) Stay strong, stand tall amongst the crowd. You are the gift that keeps on giving. We were going to speak about wildlife but don’t have enough time and have other priorities unfortunately. Hopefully one day our environment will be our priority.”
16. Standing in the power pose can instantly improve your mood
A psychologist at Harvard Business School, Amy Cuddy, believes – based on her research – that everyone should spend two minutes power posing to boost their mood and/or confidence levels. It’s based on the theory that how we hold our body influences how we feel and behave.
So what exactly is power posing?
Power posing is a technique in which people adopt poses that are associated with achievement, confidence, and power. Think Wonder Woman, who famously stands with her chest out, legs shoulder-width apart, and hands on her hips.
Cuddy’s studies found that people who adopted a power pose performed better in a mock interview and took more risks when gambling. To learn more about the benefits of power posing, you can listen to a condensed version of Amy’s TED Talk below…
17. There’s a fruit that tastes like chocolate pudding
Black Sapote is a tropical fruit found in Colombia, Central America, and the Caribbean. When unripe, Black Sapote resembles a green tomato, and when ripe, it turns a dark green/brown colour.
When ready to eat, the inside will appear velvety and look quite similar to chocolate pudding – but what’s so special about this little fruit is that it tastes like it too!
18. Queen Elizabeth II was a trained mechanic
In 1944, at age 18, Princess Elizabeth joined the army in London, where she trained as a mechanic and military truck driver. She was promoted to Junior Commander (the equivalent of Captain) five months later.
Queen Elizabeth II is the only female member of the royal family to have joined the armed forces.
19. Octopuses make ‘gardens’ at the bottom of the ocean
Octopuses like to hide in dens (any hole or crevice where they feel safe) and for added protection, they’ll collect useful items to add to their den.
For example, they might collect and scatter shells around the outside of their den to conceal it – and some octopuses even create a door to their den using a rock.
Octopuses are also highly intelligent and need good stimulation. They’ve been known to solve puzzles, complete tricky tasks to get food rewards, and unscrew jars. And many believe that this need for stimulation is also why they’re drawn to shiny objects, which they spend time collecting and arranging to create a decorative ‘garden’. Though more evidence is needed to confirm this.
20. A two-year-old St Bernard named Brody formed a special friendship with his 95-year-old Dutch neighbour
In 2019, a video depicting the friendship between a two-year-old St Bernard named Brody and a 95-year-old Dutch lady named Sally went viral.
Sally lost her husband in 1990 and lived alone next to neighbour Dave Mazarella for many years. One day, Dave brought home a new puppy – and little did Sally know that Brody, who visited her multiple times a day, would become a firm friend…
We hope you’ve enjoyed our list of happy facts, and that it’s shown that while it can sometimes seem like the world is full of doom and gloom, there are plenty of happy things going on.
For more positive vibes, why not sign up for the Feel-Good Club over on Rest Less Events? This is a group that gets together every month to swap things like stories, art, and music to help give each other a boost.