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The 14 Best Good News Stories from 2022 You Might Have Missed

Stop doomscrolling! Lift your spirits with good news stories that prove the world is full of inspiring people.

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Good news stories that inspire

It’s been another year for the history books. Not only is the COVID-19 pandemic still ongoing, but stories about inflation (and shrinkflation), the Ukraine-Russia war and ongoing political tensions dominated the headlines. While it’s certainly important to keep up with the news, it’s also crucial that you avoid getting caught up in doomscrolling and pay attention to the many good news stories from around the world—and there were some seriously beautiful, heartwarming, funny and inspiring things that happened this year!

To help you feel happier, we rounded up some of the best pieces of good news from 2022 that you may have missed (because, hey, life goes fast and good news can be easy to miss). From everyday heroes to good neighbors, these are the stories you’ll want to share.

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Strangers take an impromptu road trip together

What do you do when your flight is canceled but you absolutely have to make it to your destination as planned? Well, if you’re Alanah Story and her mother, Renee, you rent a van, pile in as many stranded passengers as you can fit and hit the road.

When the pair’s Frontier Airlines flight from Orlando to Knoxville was suddenly canceled with no warning, they headed to the airline’s help desk, along with many other frustrated travelers. After the airline offered no solutions, Renee took matters into her own hands. “My mom just turned and said, ‘We’re headed downstairs to get a van—come on, people!'” Alanah said in a viral video.

Thirteen people decided to take her up on the offer, and together they traveled 650 miles in 10 hours, arriving on time to get one traveler to an important college interview. “It was not a quiet ride. No one was getting any sleep on that drive. I think I slept around 20 minutes,” she said, adding that several of the passengers forged strong friendships and still keep in touch. “I really couldn’t have picked a better group of people to make the trip with.”

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A Russian Nobel Peace Prize winner donates his winnings to Ukrainian child refugees

Political and economic tension may dominate the news cycle, but there’s still good news in the world. In the midst of the Ukraine-Russia war, one of the most violent conflicts in recent history, a Russian journalist gave us some happy news by showing the path to peace, working to save Ukrainian children.

Dmitry Muratov won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021 for his work protecting free speech in his country. He immediately donated the $500,000 prize money to a charity that benefits Ukrainian refugees. And yet he felt he could do more. So he auctioned off his gold Nobel medal, earning a record-breaking $103.5 million. He donated all the money directly to UNICEF, earmarked for Ukrainian children who’d been harmed by the war.

“I was hoping that there was going to be an enormous amount of solidarity, but I was not expecting this to be such a huge amount,” he told the Associated Press. “I want to give the children refugees a chance for a future.”

Despite harassment and death threats, he continues his important work fighting for free speech and peace worldwide. He added that he hopes it inspires other people to consider similar acts of humanitarian service.

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A man finds an engagement ring on the beach and returns it to its owner

Combing the beach with a metal detector can be a fun (and sometimes even lucrative) hobby. But for one man, it’s become a beautiful life mission.

Joseph Cook was doing his usual route along a Florida beach when he came across a platinum-and-diamond engagement ring. He immediately knew it was something special and took it to a jeweler for an appraisal. But while it was potentially worth $40,000 to him, he knew it was priceless to the person who’d lost it. So he posted about it on social media, asking for leads on the owner.

Several weeks later, he heard from a woman who confirmed the ring was hers. “She just said, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe it,’ and then she just started crying,” he remembers. “It felt really good.”

This isn’t Cook’s first good deed—he estimates he’s returned over $60,000 worth of items to their owners in 2022 alone. “Karma’s always good. Every time I return an item, I find something better, so I’m happy I could give it back,” he says. If you love uplifting news like this, you’ll want to keep the joy coming with these happy quotes.

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An optometrist saves a baby’s eyesight after seeing a TikTok video

Like many proud mamas, Lily Fleet wanted to show off her new baby, so she posted a cute video of her 8-week-old son, Ari, to TikTok. The internet is great at making connections, so while Laura Brown didn’t know Fleet at all, she came across the video and stopped to watch the adorable babe. But something caught Brown’s attention: Ari’s eye looked cloudy and wasn’t focusing correctly. As a trained optometrist, Brown knew this was a serious problem.

She reached out to Fleet and told the new mama to get Ari to an eye doctor immediately. Fleet had noticed the problems with Ari’s eye, but the pediatrician had dismissed her concerns. Brown’s comment gave her the motivation to insist on seeing a specialist. And it’s a good thing she did.

Brown’s hunch was correct, and Ari was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma, a condition that likely would have left him blind in that eye if it hadn’t been corrected with immediate surgery. “I worried about being the crazy lady on the internet,” Brown said. “But you don’t always get specialists looking at a baby that young, so I decided to go for it.”

We love good news stories with happy endings, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Today, Ari is a happy baby with two healthy eyes. “I’m so grateful to her for reaching out. It’s something I’ll never forget,” Fleet said. “It would be lovely to have an impact on someone’s life like that.”

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A high schooler invents headphones that cure ear infections

There are 700 million cases of middle-ear infections every year, but many of those diagnosed don’t have access to antibiotics. The consequences can be severe, ranging from hearing loss to deafness to death. In fact, nearly 21,000 people worldwide died from ear infections last year alone.

Leanne Fan, a 14-year-old high school student, came up with a creative and effective solution—no antibiotics necessary. She developed Finsen Headphones, an affordable headphone device that combines machine learning and blue-light therapy to detect and treat middle-ear infections in children. This teen invention has the potential to prevent up to 60% of hearing loss in kids. As an added bonus, it’ll help suppress the growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

Fan was crowned America’s Top Young Scientist of 2022, and we can’t wait to see what she does next.

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A gas station owner helps out poor community by keeping gas prices low

June 2022 saw record-high gas prices across the United States, and while everyone was affected, people in poorer communities were hit the hardest. For some, being able to afford gas was the difference between being able to work and sliding into poverty because they lost their jobs.

In one of the most heartwarming good news stories of the year, Jaswiendre Singh, a gas station owner in an underprivileged area of Phoenix, saw the plight of his community and decided to act, keeping gas prices more than 50 cents per gallon lower than surrounding stores.

Singh, a devout Sikh, said that helping humanity is a part of his core values, even if it comes at a price. “We teach our children the same thing: If you have something, you have to share it with other people,” he told NBC News. “I have to make the money somewhere, someday, right, but not right now. Now it’s time to help people.”

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A teen returns a lost purse and inspires hundreds of strangers

When Eliana Martin left her purse in the parking lot of a California grocery store, chances were high she’d never see her stuff again. After all, how many people would track down the owner and return the bag without lifting a cent? At least one, and Adrian Rodriguez is just the guy.

The 17-year-old found Martin’s purse and hand-delivered it to her home, leaving it with her roommates. Everything was exactly as she’d left it, not a thing missing. She was so touched by his honesty that she used images from her Ring doorbell to track down the teen and give him a heartfelt thank-you.

She wanted to share the positive news story, so she started a Go Fund Me to share Rodriguez’s good deed. The internet was similarly impressed with him, and nearly 800 strangers contributed more than $17,000 to his fund.

The money was a shock to Rodriguez, who wasn’t expecting a reward. “My mom always told me, since I was little, to always do the right thing when nobody’s around. I didn’t expect nothing back, honestly,” he told NBC San Diego. “If someone found my stuff, I know I’d want them to bring it back to me.”

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Students invent a machine that upcycles old plastic bottles

Our world revolves around plastic. But as useful as the material is, it wreaks havoc on the environment, with tons of single-use plastic bottles clogging up landfills.

The problem has a simple solution, invented by university students Reiten Cheng and Swaleh Owais. The pair designed a machine, called the Polyformer, that takes plastic bottles and recycles them into plastic filaments. From there, a 3D printer can use the filaments to create nearly anything you can think of.

Such an invention could have netted them millions, but they wanted to help people, not just make money. So they made the design public and refused to patent it. This allows people who may not be able to afford pricey printer filaments to create their own from garbage, opening a world of opportunities, especially in developing countries. Plus, it helps save the planet.

“We want people from around the world to be able to access Polyformer, which is why we’ve made it open to all,” said Cheng. “We’ve also designed it so that you can use a 3D printer to print many parts of the machine, or if desired, purchase the parts as needed.”

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Honeymooners save 20 babies from a nursery fire

David Squillante and Doran Smith were on their honeymoon in Barcelona, Spain, when they happened to walk by a group of people gathered on the street. They were all watching a building—a building that was clearly on fire. Without thinking, the couple jumped into action.

Even though they didn’t speak Spanish, they understood enough to know that there were people trapped in the building, and they ran through the smoke-filled doorway. What they found inside was a nursery full of helpless infants in cribs. “Instinct took over,” Squillante told Today. “I found myself looking at 15, 20, babies sleeping and immediately just kind of lined everyone up, and we started grabbing them, putting them into the crib. It was probably like 10 minutes, but it seemed like an instant. But it turned out to be OK.”

Thanks to their quick thinking, no one was harmed in the fire, and all the babies were safely evacuated. The experience was so powerful that Squillante has said he’s in training to become a volunteer firefighter.

Looking for more inspirational stories? You’ll love this tale of a honeymoon hero.

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A dozen strangers in five countries reunite a Ukrainian refugee with her lost cat

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, Agnessa Bezhenar evacuated to Romania with the rest of her family. The refugees fled their home so quickly that they weren’t able to bring along Agnessa’s beloved cat, Arsenii. The family was eventually relocated to San Diego, but the 10-year-old couldn’t forget her pet. “She missed sleeping with her cat, and she missed hugging him. She missed everything about the cat because she had grown up with him,” her mother explained to KRON 4.

Dee Harnish, a German flight attendant who had befriended the family, found out about the lost cat and decided to track him down. She contacted an animal-rescue agency, which reached out to Agnessa’s uncle, who was taking care of the cat. He got Arsenii vaccinated and microchipped at a Ukraine pet shelter and even got him a passport before taking him by motorcycle across the border to Moldova. Another man took the kitty to Bucharest, where a family housed him until an animal-rescue volunteer from Greece came to pick him up. A tuk-tuk driver then took the pair to the airport in Athens, where they boarded a flight to America.

After traveling more than 7,000 miles, Arsenii was joyfully reunited with Agnessa—and the pair again now snuggle up together for bed every night.

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John Cena breaks a world record by granting more than 650 wishes for sick kids

John Cena is famous for being a 16-time WWE world champion, but it turns out the wrestler has a heart even bigger than his biceps—and his soft spot is kids with critical illnesses.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation works with celebrities, community leaders and families to grant wishes for extremely ill children, and Cena has partnered with the foundation for 20 years. This year, he broke the record for the number of wishes granted by fulfilling more than 650 of them. (To understand just how impressive this is, you should know that the next record holder has granted 200 wishes.)

“If you ever need me for this, ever, I don’t care what I’m doing. I will drop what I’m doing and be involved because I think that’s the coolest thing,” Cena told the WWE. “I just drop everything, [and] if I can offer a fantastic experience, I’ll be first in line to do my part.”

You may not be a pro wrestler, but you can still make a huge difference. Check out these charities where your donation goes the furthest.

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“Layaway angels” save Christmas for needy folks

A beautiful new trend took over during the 2022 holiday season: Anonymous do-gooders paid off other people’s store layaway accounts as an act of kindness.

Lisa, a single mom with partial paralysis, was the beneficiary of one of these “layaway angels.” Months ago, she’d put toys and clothes into a layaway program at Burlington. It was a tough year, and by Christmastime, she still didn’t have the money to purchase her children’s gifts. Not only would she lose the items she’d picked out specially for them, but she’d also lose her layaway deposit. There was no easy solution—she simply didn’t have the cash.

Then she got a call from a representative of the Burlington store with good news. An anonymous couple, who appeared to be in their mid-20s, had come into the store and paid off nearly $500 in layaway items, including those belonging to Lisa. “They were interested in items that had been on layaway for the longest time,” the store rep told her. “The man just said he wanted to do something nice for the Christmas season.”

Lisa’s story isn’t the only one touched by layaway angels this year. Reports from all over the country are popping up on social media, with grateful shoppers sharing how they discovered their held items had been paid off for them, often in full.

Layaway angels prefer to stay anonymous, so Lisa took to the news to publicly thank hers. “I really appreciate it,” she told Colorado’s KOAA News 5, “and I want to say thank you to whoever that was that went out there and did that.”

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Facebook DNA sleuths help a woman find her birth father

After a brief summer fling in the 1980s, Joseph Frank forgot all about the affair. But in October 2022, the memories came back when his former flame’s daughter contacted him out of the blue. It turns out she was his daughter too.

Adrieanna Tyler was raised by her stepfather but always yearned to know her biological dad, so earlier this year, she took a DNA test and posted her quest in a Facebook group that helps reunite family members through genealogy. One of the internet sleuths helped her build her biological family tree and track down her father.

“She said she’d put me in touch with my dad, and I was so nervous! How do you just call someone and ask, ‘Are you my dad?’ He had no idea I’d ever been born,” she told Good News Network. Fortunately, Frank was thrilled to discover he had another daughter and two grandchildren. “When he found out about me, he was so excited, and it was such a relief,” Tyler said. “I felt so vulnerable before, in case he wanted nothing to do with me.”

Now the two are planning their futures together, with plenty of visits and phone calls. “I feel like I can finally start to heal now [that] I’m not wondering why he didn’t want me—when all this time it was because he didn’t even know I existed,” she said. “Everything ended up exactly how it was supposed to.”

If you love good news stories, you’ll appreciate these uplifting quotes.

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The U.S. Army bakes a woman a birthday cake—77 years after soldiers ate hers

In 1945, at the end of World War II, Meri Mion was turning 13 years old. It was a difficult time across the world, and she spent the night before her momentous teenage birthday hiding in her family’s attic as retreating German soldiers fired shots near her Italian home. She lay awake in terror and felt immense relief the following morning when they were gone.

Later, her mother made a beautiful meringue-and-fruit cake—an especially tantalizing treat after the privations of the war—and set it on the window sill to await the birthday celebration. Apparently, the American soldiers chasing the escaping Germans found it tempting too: They wolfed down the poor girl’s birthday cake without a second thought.

She was “deeply disappointed”—likely an understatement—but she moved on with her life. Eventually, she immigrated to America, where she raised her family and had many more birthday cakes.

Seventy-seven years later, on Mion’s 90th birthday, the U.S. Army decided it was time to make up for its soldiers’ actions. It held a special ceremony for Mion and presented her with an elaborate meringue-and-fruit birthday cake. The gesture brought tears to her eyes.

A lost birthday cake was a small thing in the grand scheme of the war, but it is the sum of many small things—good and bad—that make up a life. And in this case, a small kindness healed some big wounds. “Tomorrow, we will eat that dessert with all my family, remembering this wonderful day that I will never forget,” she said.


  • SWNS: “Group of strangers road tripped together after their flight was cancelled”
  • AP News: “Nobel sold for Ukrainian kids shatters record at $103.5M”
  • SWNS: “Metal detectorist finds $40,000 diamond ring buried on Florida beach and reunites with owner”
  • SWNS: “Mum says son’s sight was saved after stranger spotted abnormality on TikTok”
  • D Fan: “Finsen Headphones detecting and treating mid-ear infections”
  • NBC News: “‘We don’t go by money’: Gas station owner lowers prices to help customers”
  • NBC San Diego: “Chula Vista Teen Praised for Returning Woman’s Lost Purse”
  • Reiten Design: “Polyformer”
  • Today: “Honeymooners Save Babies from a Burning Nursery In Spain”
  • KRON 4: “Flying Tails: 10-year-old reunited with her beloved cat from Ukraine”
  • WWE: “A look back at John Cena’s 500 wishes with Make-A-Wish”
  • KOAA News 5: “Colorado Springs mom thanks unknown person who paid-off her layaway”
  • Good News Network: “She Finally Met Her Long Lost Dad, Who Didn’t Know She Existed, Thanks to Stranger on Facebook”
  • U.S. Army: “U.S. Army Garrison Italy Soldiers return Italian woman’s birthday cake, 77 years later”

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen is a health, lifestyle and fitness expert and teacher. She covers all things wellness for Reader’s Digest and The Healthy. With dual masters degrees in information technology and education, she has been a journalist for 17 years and is the author of The Great Fitness Experiment. She lives in Denver with her husband, five kids and three pets.