13 Reasons To Feel Hopeful During A Rough Month

When the world seems full of darkness, acknowledging the points of light is even more important.
A woman hugs a Dallas police officer at a makeshift memorial at police headquarters following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas.
A woman hugs a Dallas police officer at a makeshift memorial at police headquarters following the multiple police shootings in Dallas, Texas.
Carlo Allegri / Reuters

The police shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, the murder of cops in Dallas and Baton Rouge, the Bastille Day terror attack in Nice, the Munich mall shooting: by any measure, July has felt overstuffed with bad news.

The psychic toll of all this bad news is real. “Violent media exposure can exacerbate or contribute to the development of stress, anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” as HuffPost’s Carolyn Gregoire has written.

One common response to the negativity is what’s known as “compassion fatigue” – basically, emotional burnout from processing too much stressful information.

“Compassion fatigue is sort of an ironic condition,” Dr. Charles Figley, a Tulane University psychologist who specializes in trauma, told The Huffington Post. “Bad news weighs on our minds because it introduces uncertainty; we want to shut it out. But then we become stressed because we are not able to help the people who are suffering.”

So at the tail end of a month defined by major ― and majorly depressing ― news, here are some stories that might have escaped your notice.

NASA started to probe the mysteries of Jupiter.
Handout . / Reuters
Late on the evening of July 4th, the NASA spacecraft Juno successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit, a task that one of the project’s scientists described as “the hardest thing NASA’s ever done.” (The New York Times even kept a list of things that could have gone wrong.) NASA released 1300 stunning raw images from the mission.
America announced its soon-to-be-famous, majority-minority women’s gymnastics dream team.
USA Today Sports / Reuters
In other encouraging Summer Olympics news: Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt announced that, despite his recent injuries, he’ll be competing for a third gold medal in Rio de Janeiro. The ten members of the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team will compete to bring global attention to the humanitarian crisis. And celebrity chefs at the Olympic Village in Rio are piloting a program to donate surplus food to local slums.
Doctors had a major Zika virus breakthrough.
Scott Olson via Getty Images
The medical community has taken huge strides in combating the disease that has roiled South America. The first Zika vaccine is now ready for human trials, thanks to a collaboration between a Pennsylvania vaccine maker and a South Korean lab.
Scientists found a new dinosaur.
Britt Erlanson via Getty Images
On the very last day of an expedition in Argentina, paleontologists discovered a new dinosaur: Gualicho shinyae, a close relative of Tyrannosaurus Rex that may help us understand how a class of dinosaurs, called Therapods, evolved such tiny arms. Its namesake is a “demon of local folklore” called Gualichu.
Neurologists mapped almost 100 new areas of the human brain.
Digital Vision. via Getty Images
A landmark Nature study identified 97 new areas of gray matter, including regions that are linked to storytelling, language, and deception.
On opposite sides of the world, two record-breaking initiatives made life a little greener.
Mike Blake / Reuters
California harnessed a heat wave to power a record-breaking 6 million homes with solar energy in July. And in India, 800,000 volunteers planted nearly 50 million trees to take a stand against air pollution.
Teen pregnancy rates declined in the US and the UK.
Buero Monaco via Getty Images
Both countries reported record low rates of teen pregnancy, thanks to factors ranging from high-quality sex education to the popularity of TV shows like MTV’s “Teen Mom,” which spotlight the very real challenges of pregnancy and parenting. As Tina Rosenberg wrote in The New York Times, “These shows don’t persuade girls to abandon birth control. They are birth control.”
There’s a new fuel source with almost zero emissions.
Handout . / Reuters
An Australian company has created clean hydrogen fuel with nearly nonexistent emissions. The process uses iron ore to convert methane into hydrogen, and the gas’s carbon content is captured as solid graphite -- which can, in turn, be used to manufacture things like batteries.
The NFL ramped up its efforts to fight sexual assault.
Darko Novakovic via Getty Images
The league, which has been widely criticized for its handling of sexual violence, is now funding sexual assault prevention initiatives, including by partnering with bars to encourage bystander intervention.
Creative ideas helped some refugees feel a little more at home.
HuffPost Canada
In Toronto, a new meal delivery startup is giving jobs to Syrian refugee women, while one house has become a haven for refugees who have nowhere else to go. Meanwhile, the public school district in Syracuse, New York, has found innovative ways to help its immigrant and refugee students.
Some tech-savvy thinkers joined the fight against online radicalization.
LeoWolfert via Getty Images
A maverick computer scientist is helping fight ISIS propaganda, and a German researcher is harnessing the power of mothers to save vulnerable youth from radicalization.
Conservationists (and animals) scored some big successes.
Wolfgang Kaehler via Getty Images
500 elephants were moved to Malawi to repopulate a habitat that was once decimated by poachers. New England’s only native rabbit species may soon be hopping in the wild again. And the World Wildlife Fund moved to save thousands of sharks from being caught.
People rediscovered their cities, and childhoods, with Pokémon Go.
THOMAS SAMSON via Getty Images
Whatever you think of the game, the brief week of pure, childlike glee that many people experienced in mid-July was like a pressure valve inside crucible of a month. We even got some accidental exercise along the way. And some have found unexpected uses for the game, from physical therapy for kids in hospitals to fundraising for charity.

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