26 Actual Good Things That Happened In 2016

By now, we are so used to hearing about how terrible 2016 was that thinking of it as anything other than the worst year we all collectively lived seems almost sacrilegious. And while it’s certainly true that a lot of awful things happened – I don’t think I need to go over them again, but if you need a refresher read this or maybe this – it’s also true that a lot of good things happened. In fact, a lot of great, inspiring, newsworthy things happened in 2016, it’s just that we forgot about them, because as humans, our natural inclination is to be more entranced by all things negative (this is what I believe, at least).

And hey, maybe you had a pretty good year on a personal level, and you feel kind of crappy that these things happened during a year that was the worst for so many other people (and America as a whole). I did! I bought a house with my boyfriend and moved in with him (I am officially a responsible adult!). I got a better handle on my chronic health issue. I got promoted, I became more organized, and I found my perfect hair color. But anyway. This isn’t about me. It’s just me pointing out that it’s okay if you had a good year, despite everything else.

Also, you know what? I think it’s time we stopped whining about 2016 and started feeling good about the awesome events that went on, from the seriously important topics to the not as important but still very fun topics. We can’t fall into a hole of feeling too sorry for ourselves, because if we do, we’ll never get out of it. Let’s look back on the good things that happened in 2016 so that we can all feel better for at least a few minutes. We deserve it!

1. There were a lot of really important medical advances that will probably change our world. 

So many amazing things happened in the medical world this year, and you probably either didn’t hear about them, or forgot about them (everything was buried under election news). Here are just a few worth pointing out:

  1. The Ice Bucket Challenge actually did help ALS – the funds made it possible for researchers to find the gene responsible for ALS, which means we’re closer to an effective treatment.
  2. There were huge Alzheimer’s breakthroughs, the biggest one being that we are on the brink of having a medication that can prevent the disease.
  3. We became even closer to a cure for HIV when a medical trial cleared the virus in a British man.
  4. There’s new medication that can increase the survival rate for those with melanoma up to 40 percent.
  5. New chemotherapy breakthroughs increased the five year survival for pancreatic cancer.
  6. Doctors believe they may have finally found one of the causes of Crohn’s Disease, something that was previously a medical mystery.

This stuff alone is enough to feel good about 2016!

2. The tiger population increased. 

As many of us should know, tigers (and many other important and gorgeous wild animals) are in danger of extinction thanks to hunting. This year, the wild tiger population was said to increase for the first time in 100 years. The number went from 3,200 to 3,890.

3. Protestors help put a stop to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. 

We recently found out that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied permits for construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline after months of peaceful protests in North Dakota. They were protesting the pipeline because it would have contaminated drinking water in a tribal reservation and disturb sacred burial sites. This December victory was a much-needed reminder that protesting can work.

4. A woman ran for President. A woman!

Everything we’ve worked toward comes down to today. Like this if you're voting for Hillary. hillaryclinton.com/locate

A photo posted by Hillary Clinton (@hillaryclinton) on

Yes, we all know that Hillary Clinton lost, and yes, many of us acknowledge that she may not have been the best choice for POTUS (although she was certainly better than Donald Trump). But look on the bright side: Hillary Clinton made history by becoming the first woman to win a major party endorsement and to run a full campaign. That’s still progress!

5. There were six historic female victories in this year’s election.

This election left many of us feeling so bummed out that we completely missed the fact that so many women made history by winning their own races. Kamala Harris, Catherine Cortez Masto, and Tammy Duckworth were elected to the Senate, Stephanie Murphy and Pramila Jayapal got seats in the House of Representatives, and Ihan Omar was elected to her state’s legislature.

6. Snapchat gave us the dog filter.

This is a dog filter appreciation post. ?

A photo posted by gurl (@gurldotcom) on

Obviously not as newsworthy as the above accomplishments, but come on – who can complain about the dog filter, arguably Snapchat’s best filter ever? It makes everyone look like a weird combination of cute and sexy, with perfect skin and little dog ears. It is life.

7. The U.S. women’s gymnastic team won big in the Olympics. 

Simone will be the closing ceremony flag bearer for Team USA!

A photo posted by USA Gymnastics (@usagym) on

It was so heartwarming and amazing to see these young women do incredible things at the Olympics this year. In fact, it was one of the only reasons a lot of people tuned in!

8. Speaking of the Olympics, the committee finally recognized cheerleading as a sport. 

Dream Team Cheerleaders, Wildcats ? SM-finaali 2017 #cheerleading #cheerperhe #sm2017

A photo posted by Tero Wester (@terowesterphotography) on

After years and years of debate, cheerleading was finally recognized as a sport by the Olympic committee. Anyone who knows how hard cheerleaders work knows this is a huge victory. This doesn’t mean they’ll be in the next Olympics just yet – and maybe they never will be – but it’s still a step in the right direction.

9. There was a new Harry Potter book and movie. 

2016 was the year we realized that J.K. Rowling isn’t quite ready to let go of Harry Potter. The release of The Cursed Child certainly wasn’t her best book (and it will never be the same as the original novels), and Fantastic Beasts was good but not quite on par as HP, but still, it was nice to get a glimpse of our favorites once again.

10. Three states repealed discriminatory tampon taxes. 

Over the summer, Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy signed a bill revoking the tax, and that was followed by New York governor Andrew Cuomo and Illinois governor Bruce Rauner doing the same. Who knows if our newly Republican government will get rid of this, but hey – at least it happened.

11. Marley Dias was one of many badass young people to do something great. 

This year, 11-year-old Marley Dias from New Jersey started a book drive called #1000BlackGirlBooks. Her original goal was to collect 1,000 books featuring black girls as the main characters. Her deadline was February 1, but the book drive went viral, and by that date, she had collected nearly 4,000. As of this month, she has collected over 8,000. Her next goal is to set up a black girl book club and encourage school distracts to change the assigned reading lists to reflect more diversity. Truly inspiring!

12. Pokemon Go brought us all together – and outside. 

#pokemongo #alexaspokemongoadventure #santachu

A photo posted by Trash Kid (@badlandswolf) on

Make fun of Pokemon Go all you want, but no one can deny that it created an irresistibly fun way to get everyone together. It was like we were all in on this one little game, and it became something so relatable and innocent in the middle of a time when we were becoming so divided. On top of that, it got people outside, which is always a good thing.

13. Leonardo DiCaprio FINALLY won an Oscar.

I can’t even think about this moment without wanting to cry again (don’t JUDGE me). After years of the Internet making jokes about Leo’s Oscar-less Hollywood career, he finally, finally won one. It was beautiful. And all he had to do was make the hardest and most physically demanding movie of his life. Love you bae.

14. Giant pandas are no longer endangered. 

Yay! Amazing giant pandas are now considered “vulnerable” and not endangered, according tot he International Union for Conservation of Nature.

15. Teen Vogue killed it. 

Teen Vogue reminded everyone that young women can be interested in clothes, crushes, makeup… and political issues, as well as other important news stories. We’ve been trying to say this here at Gurl for forever, but hey – still need to give props to this publication for being extremely awesome this year.

16. NASA’s spacecraft entered Jupiter’s orbit. 

It only took 1.7 billion miles and five years, but the NASA Juno spacecraft finally entered Jupiter’s orbit on July 4. Now it will hang around there to do an in-depth study of Jupiter for 20 months. This is huge.

17. The Chicago Cubs broke their bad luck streak and won the World Series. 

Even if you’re not into baseball, you have to admit that this moment was precious. After not winning a championship for 108 years (this is the longest drought in professional sports), the Cubs won the World Series this year. It was honestly a beautiful, pure, perfect moment that made almost everyone get teary-eyed, even if they were rooting for the other team.

18. Netflix added the option of offline downloads. 

I mean, what were they WAITING for????

19. Beyonce released Lemonade. 

Pop culture fans know that Lemonade was not just an album – it was a huge statement and easily one of Beyonce’s most powerful moments. It was epic, and it gave inspiration to a lot of people when it was needed most. Where would we be without Bey?

20. The first solar-powered plane successfully made a trip around the world. 

How crazy is this? The first round-the-world flight by a solar-powered plane was completed this month in Abu Dhabi. It began its journey in March 2015. Technology is awesome.

21. Gilmore Girls came back to us. 

Fans of Gilmore Girls from when the original series were on air got a very special treat this year: four brand new episodes of the show. There was, of course, criticism to be made, but all in all, I think the creators, stars, and Netflix did a truly awesome job. You don’t always get to see your favorite cast come back together again to make a better ending, so this was really special.

22. McDonald’s made breakfast last all day. 

Yes, this deserves a spot on this list. Have you tasted their hash browns?!

23. Good Morning America referred to the Kermit meme as “tea lizard,” and many other meme stories. 

2016 was, probably, the best year ever for memes. There were so many good ones that it’s impossible to list them all. One of my favorite stories? When GMA called the Kermit sipping tea meme “tea lizard.”

24. Two real life memes did something good with their fame. 

After Daniel Lara and Josh Holz went viral with their ridiculous Damn Daniel Vine, Vans gifted them a lifetime supply of the now iconic shoes. The two donated the shoes to kids at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital in Southern California. Little things like this just make you smile.

25. Frank Ocean and Adele released albums. 

Giving my sick ass life! #frankocean #music #subwaytunes #nyc

A photo posted by Stephanie Guerra (@stephanie_guerra) on

After we waited for years, two of everyone’s favorite singers finally released new music. Of course, I guess this is only good if you, you know, liked the music.

26. We caught the zodiac killer. 

Ted Cruz. Duh.

Which one of these good moments from 2016 is your favorite? Which great moment did we forget about? Let us know in the comments.

You can follow the author, Jessica Booth, on Twitter or Instagram.


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