It’s good to be thankful. And no, not because it’s a friendly thing to do. Research has actually found that reflecting on things you’re thankful for in your life is one of the most reliable ways of boosting your emotional well-being and happiness levels. That’s why we’ve isolated 40 things we should all be thankful for this past year. So clear your mind of distractions, read on, and feel your spirits rise this holiday season. And for more ways to feel better, check out these 70 genius tricks to get instantly happy.
Wonder Woman Rose from the Trenches
Superheroes are bigger than ever, with both Marvel and DC continuing to milk their current franchises for all they’re worth. But Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot, was huge in a very different way. The film, which released in June, was lavished with praise and finally gave the world the female-centered superhero story it had clearly been waiting for. For more on Gal Gadot, here are 15 times she melted our Instagram feeds.
An American Won the New York City Marathon
Shalane Flanagan became the first American woman to win the New York City Marathon since 1977.
The Random Turkish Chef Who Inspired the Internet
That would be Salt Bae, who went viral for his smooth meat-cutting skills and his stylish way of sprinkling salt. We’d argue that this man has generated more smiles in 2017 than anyone else. Bonus: Here’s the one steak order that’s guaranteed to impress any butcher, including Salt Bae.
Canada Got Cool
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s effortless cool, dapper style, and overall warm-heartedness made him a much-needed breath of fresh air at a time when American politics has never been more controversial. And speaking of Trudeau: If you like that stylish blazer, here’s where you can buy it.
A New Taylor Swift Album
And all of the great gossip that comes with it! And for more on Tay-Tay, read up on why all men not-so-secretly love her.
T-Rexes Take Over YouTube
In 2017, the hilarious inflatable T-Rex costume has taken the internet by storm. Every party, it seems, isn’t complete without everyone’s favorite stubby-armed dinosaur.
We’ve Had Less Famous Musician Deaths
Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, George Michael. In many ways, 2016 was the year the music died, with one legend after another leaving before their time.
Get Out captivates America
With Get Out, director Jordan Peele used horror to bring up insightful and uncomfortable ideas that were simultaneously tough to confront and a hell of a lot of fun to watch—all while playing by the rules of the genre. That it rang up $100 million at the box office just makes it all better.
JFK Conspiracy Theories Are Back!
The government released a new trove of intelligence documents regarding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Did Lee Harvey Oswald really act alone? Was there a second shooter on the Grassy Knoll? Why didn’t the CIA want these files released? There are literally zero answers to these e questions, but we never tire of asking them.
This Toddler Who Stole the Royal Popcorn
Our country’s obsession with British royalty was bolstered by video evidence of a sweet little girl stealing Prince Harry’s popcorn while he wasn’t looking during a volleyball match. His reaction to this, pulling faces and offering her more, made us very happy. Oh, speaking of Prince Harry: Here are the 10 princely ways he won Meghan.
The Last Jedi will be released this year, and rumor has it that director Rian Johnson will be launching his very own trilogy, independent of the Skywalker saga. If you’re 20 years old, you can safely expect another 75 Star Wars films in your lifetime.
You Can Buy Almost Anything in a Unicorn Theme Now
This year saw the rise of unicorn cakes, mugs, costumes, clothing, housewares, and just about anything else you can think of. You can bring their magic into your life in whatever way you choose. Don’t forget the Starbuck’s unicorn frap craze, either!
The Astros Win the World Series
Right when a flood-ravaged Houston needed it the most.
Thor: Ragnarok Makes Superhero Movies Fun Again
Just as Wonder Woman brought some much-needed diversity to superhero stars, Thor: Ragnarok changed up the tone and brought some desperately needed comedy to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
We Saw a Solar Eclipse!
Under normal circumstances, an astrological event might not qualify as a pop-culture phenomenon, but this one broke through in a big way.
Game of Thrones Finally Gets a Heart
After years of heartache and shock while George R.R. Martin has [spoilers ahead] haplessly killed off beloved characters, it finally looks like the good guys are finally getting the upper hand in the war for Westeros. But more importantly, Jon Snow and Danaerys Targaryen finally, finally paid off all that sexual tension and hooked up.
McDonald’s Brings Back Buttermilk Crispy Tenders
The only thing better than a nugget is a full-sized tender.
Soccer Hits the South
This fall, more than 70,000 fans packed into a stadium in Atlanta to watch some sports. No, it wasn’t football. Is this the beginning of an all-new era?
Classic Adidas Kicks Make a Comeback
Throwback Adidas have made yet another comeback. You’ve just been handed a perfect reason to not clean out your closet for the last 10 or 20 years.
Gilmore Girls Are Back
Its success has opened the doors for the triumphant return of all of our favorite shows that left the airwaves years ago.
The Ohio Eight-Year-Old Kid Who Drove His Sibling to McDonald’s
Why is this something to be thankful for? First: It wasn’t your kid. Second, they were both fine. And third, Dennis the Menace-level hijinks is always hilarious.
Bonnie and Clyde at the Oscars
Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway are two of the biggest stars in Hollywood history, yet they may be remembered for the biggest flub in Academy Awards history. Sorry, La La Land!
There’s Actual Edible Cookie Dough Now
This year saw the explosion of cookie dough bars serving straight-up cookie dough. No ice cream! Just cookie dough. Isn’t that awesome?
The first Spanish-language song to hit No. 1 since “Macarena.”
Hipster Food Became Mainstream
This year brought us a billion new ideas for how to best apply avocado to toast.
She absolutely stuns in Lady Bird.
Dave Chappelle Returns
For years, Chappelle Show fans have had to tide themselves over with old Comedy Central clips and stand-up bits on YouTube. In 2017, he came back in a big way, with back-to-back specials on Netflix and a month-long residency at Radio City Music Hall. It was like he never left.
Celery is In
Celery is the forgotten veggie, as kale and cauliflower have gotten all the attention. But this ants-on-a-log favorite has been making itself heard in the culinary community, appearing on more menus and even getting a shoutout from Food & Wine as a “hot food trend of 2017.”
A New Philip Pullman Book
The Book of Dust, by Philip Pullman, was released this fall, and once again we can all be transported to a magical alternate universe he created for the His Dark Materials trilogy, where peoples’ souls walk alongside them as animals.
McGregor vs. Mayweather
It was actually a decent fight!
LCD Soundsystem Has Still Got It
James Murphy has made being the old guy at the party a badge of honor (or at least a source of some great lyrics) and his return this year with American Dream.
Jay Z Shows How to Age Gracefully
This year Jay Z showed, with 4:44, how a rap mogul can become a true elder statesman.
Twin Peaks Returns, Still Weird
Not only did almost the entire original cast (and loads of big-named guest stars) return, but creator David Lynch did not water down any of his signature weirdness.
Smart Home Devices are Mainstream Now
We’re one lazy step closer to the day the robots take over.
Avocados Are Cheaper
Whatever you think of Amazon’s Whole Foods purchase, the cost of your favorite foodstuffs will be falling. And speaking of healthy foods: Here are the 40 unhealthiest foods if you’re over 40.
The Handmaid’s Tale Returns for Season 2
Margaret Atwood’s book and the accompanying Hulu series was the true sleeper hit of the year.
While the NFL suffers through endless controversies and Major League Baseball struggles to find its new megastars, the NBA is officially the most exciting league in America. It’s got the best and brightest stars and it’s electric to watch.
Cloud Eggs Made Breakfast Beautiful Again
So, the recipe and technique aren’t necessarily new, but the beautiful depictions of cloud eggs on Instagram made us all want this ethereal treat for breakfast. Unfortunately, cloud egg critics weren’t all that impressed with the actual taste and texture of the dish.
It’s a Lego World We’re Living In
The Lego Batman movie came out this year, and it was possibly even more hilarious than The Lego Movie.
It Was the Year of the Clown
Stephen King’s iconic, terrifying clown scared the crap out of us all over again this year, and we loved it. The 80s-set It broke records and pleased critics, scratching an itch for nostalgic, creepy fun that we didn’t realize we needed.
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