In a 24-hour global news cycle, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of negative, frustrating and tragic news hitting our feeds.
But 2021 was not all case numbers, death tolls, lockdowns, tragedies and hardships.
There was also a host of bright moments that cut through.
Let’s take a moment to focus on the shiny bits of good news this year as we look forward to a better 2022.
Joe the Pigeon escapes execution
The plight of a humble bird captured hearts all over the world in January, when it was set to be killed for breaching biosecurity rules.
Dubbed ‘Joe the Pigeon’, he was believed to have arrived in Melbourne from the US and had attracted the attention of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.
But in a shock twist, further investigation found Joe was actually Australian – and there was no need to “destroy” him.
VP Kamala Harris makes history
Kamala Harris became the first female, first Black, and first Asian-American vice-president in US history at her inauguration on January 20, according to the ABC.
US President Joe Biden said during the ceremony that her success was a sign that things can change.
“Today, we mark the swearing in of the first woman in history elected to office, Vice-President Kamala Harris. Don’t tell me things can’t change,” Mr Biden said.
Europe’s oldest person survives COVID-19
In February, a French nun celebrated her 117th birthday just weeks after contracting and recovering from the coronavirus.
Sister André, born Lucile Randon, is believed to be the second-oldest person in the world and tested positive to COVID-19 in mid-January.
Three weeks later she celebrated her 117th birthday in style at Toulon, in the south of France.
Lost wallet returned 53 years later
There’s little to rival the faith in humanity one feels when a lost valuable – like a watch or a wallet – is returned.
Retired Navy meteorologist Paul Grisham lost his wallet in Antarctica sometime in 1977 or 1978 while he was living there for work.
On February 12, the 91-year-old told CNN it had finally been returned to him, more than 50 years later, with its contents left untouched.
Miscarriage and stillbirth leave passed in New Zealand
The New Zealand government voted unanimously to introduce paid bereavement leave for mothers and their partners after a miscarriage or stillbirth.
The bill allows for three days of paid leave for mothers, their partners and parents attempting to have children through adoption and surrogacy, the Guardian has reported.
Chloe Zhao makes Golden Globes history
In a world-first for Asian women, Nomadland director Chloe Zhao won a Golden Globe for best director in March.
Zhao, who was born in China, is the second woman to win in the category following Barbra Streisand in 1984, according to the BBC.
The well-deserved recognition marked the beginning of what has been dubbed the most diverse awards season in history.
NASA makes oxygen on Mars
In a first for the Red Planet, NASA’s Perseverance Rover used a “toaster-size experimental instrument” to convert some of the carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere into oxygen for the first time ever.
NASA said the move “could pave the way for science fiction to become science fact”.
China’s Rover marks Mars milestone
On May 15, China’s Zhurong rover became the third to land on Mars.
According to The Conversation, China’s scientists were the first to orbit, land and complete a rovering operation during a first mission to Mars.
Eurovision Song Contest
Italian glam rock band Måneskin won the 65th Eurovision Song Contest on May 23 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
It won with 524 points for the song Zitti E Buoni, ABC reported.
It is the third time a performance from Italy has taken home the trophy.
Standing ovation for vaccine developer
The crowd at Wimbledon’s Centre Court on opening day stood in their seats to wildly applaud Dame Sarah Gilbert of Oxford University when they realised she was in attendance.
Dame Sarah led the team of scientists who developed the breakthrough AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19.
The announcer only got part way through announcing her before raucous applause erupted.
On July 11, Australians Ash Barty and Dylan Alcott smashed their respective Wimbledon competition to claim titles.
Both were lauded with congratulations from back home as they raised coveted trophies above their heads and celebrated being champions.
It was the second Wimbledon win for world No.1 Alcott, while Ngarigo woman Barty secured the women’s singles title for Australia for the first time in 41 years, according to SBS.
Olympic medal mania for Australia in Tokyo
The Australian Olympic team secured a record-equalling 17 gold medals at the Tokyo Games in August and ranked sixth on the medal table.
Emma McKeon and fellow swimmers claimed nine of those, more than Australia’s entire Olympic team managed to win at London 2012 or Rio 2016.
The secret to the green and gold’s success in Japan was “complicated”, chef de mission Ian Chesterman said.
Two athletes decide to share a medal in feel-good moment
Almost at the finish and tied for points, Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim were offered the chance at a tiebreaker.
But instead of a jump-off, the two mates requested two gold medals, Al Jazeera reports.
They chose to share the top podium in the men’s high jump at the Tokyo Games, marking a heartwarming moment that captured a spirit of friendship that will not be soon forgotten.
‘Scooter’ Patterson takes Tokyo by storm
Australian dual medallist Paralympian Grant ‘Scooter’ Patterson won hearts all over the world with his positive energy at the Tokyo Games.
A larrikin from Cairns, Scooter told The New Daily he doesn’t need caffeine and is instead fuelled by an “inner beast”.
Scooter brought home bronze in the 150-metre medley and silver in the 50-metre breaststroke.
AJ Elfalak’s ‘miracle’ survival
Joyous scenes erupted when a rescue helicopter spotted toddler Anthony “AJ” Elfalak, who has autism and is non-verbal, after three nights missing.
The three-year-old vanished from his family’s remote rural property in New South Wales’ Hunter Valley and was found days later in nearby bushland, drinking creek water.
“It’s a miracle. He has been bitten by ants and he has fallen over, but he is alive. He is alive. It’s amazing,” his dad Anthony said at the time.
Adele comes back with a bang
Adele made history when she became the first person to feature on the front cover of British and American Vogue in the same month.
In more good news for the 33-year-old British singer, she later released her first new music in more than five years and the album 30 broke streaming records.
First openly gay male football star
Adelaide United player Josh Cavallo, 21, made history when he revealed his sexual orientation in an emotional social media post on October 27.
Cavallo is the first openly gay male athlete to play in the A-League and is the first Australian male athlete to come out as gay while actively playing since rugby league player Ian Roberts in 1995.
He said the “double life” he was forced to live was exhausting, and something he didn’t want anyone else to experience.
Britney is freed
Pop sensation Britney Spears spent nearly 14 years under the control of her father before her conservatorship was dissolved on November 13.
She credited the #FreeBritney movement and her followers on Instagram for recognising her situation and helping to push for her freedom.
Cleo Smith is found alive and well
Relief swept the nation as Cleo Smith, a four-year-old girl who disappeared from a Western Australian campsite, was found alive.
She had been missing for more than two weeks when she was rescued from a locked house in a nearby town and reunited with her family.
WA Police released audio, and later vision, of the moment little Cleo was discovered and the good news quickly went viral.
Barbados becomes a republic
The island nation of Barbados celebrated its 55th year of independence by ousting the Queen and swearing in an elected president.
It is the first time a nation has automatically remained part of the Commonwealth after removing the monarchy, and Prince Charles attended the occasion.
Pop superstar Rihanna was honoured as a national hero by newly minted President Dame Sandra Mason.
Weather elves say Santa won’t need his woollies
In more good news, it looks like Santa will be clad in singlet and thongs as he makes his way across Australia delivering gifts.
The BOM predicts the mercury in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Adelaide should peak between 24 and 30 degrees on Christmas Day.
Don’t forget the sunscreen, Santa, and to all our readers, have a very happy holidays.