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A student's triumph, a dog with an odd job and a hilarious billboard

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Two sons played a prank on their dad by posting his phone number on a billboard in New Jersey.

Posted: Mar 18, 2019 5:00 PM
Updated: Mar 18, 2019 5:00 PM

Danish people are consistently found to be some of the happiest people in the world -- and they have all kinds of cool words to express their stellar Scandinavian brand of satisfaction. You may know about hygge, the Danish concept of intimacy and cozy togetherness. Now, get ready to brush up on your pyt. There's no exact English translation, but the concept of pyt could be summed up by the phrase "Don't worry about it," or "stuff happens." It's basically a way of dealing with stress by cultivating healthy thoughts -- and goodness knows we can always use some of that. Because, let's face it, pyt happens.

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A very good nature-loving boy

This is Train, and he's here to teach you a thing or two about following your dreams -- even if they end with you face-first in a pile of animal dung. Train is a Chesapeake Bay retriever, and he was supposed to be a drug-sniffing dog, but he failed out of narcotics school because he was too hyper. It turns out, he just wanted to run around and sniff poop. It might sound like an unsavory task, but scat samples in the wild can be goldmines for researchers like Train's owner, conservation biologist Karen DeMatteo. DeMatteo and a research team in Argentina are trying to locate the habitats of endangered animals, but it's hard to figure out where they live if you can't find the animals themselves. The poop helps pinpoint their location, and Train helps pinpoint the poop.

Happy Birthday, stranger!

When your parents remind you to call them on their birthdays, this is probably NOT WHAT THEY MEAN. New Jersey dad Chris Ferry has been awash in texts and voicemails from people wishing him a happy 62nd birthday because his prankster sons decided to buy an entire billboard near Atlantic City with his face on it. His sons have always tried to do fun, joking things for their dad, and it's going to be hard to top this. (FYI, today is Ferry's real birthday.)

With great wealth comes great responsibility

Remember the record-setting $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot that was drawn last year? An anonymous woman in South Carolina has stepped forward to claim it, and she is already doing a ton of good with her new fortune. According to her lawyer (the winner isn't going public, and can you blame her?), she is donating a portion of her earnings to charities including the Alabama Red Cross, which is helping survivors after this month's deadly tornadoes. Her lawyer said the winner feels "such good fortune carries a tremendous social responsibility."

Raise a glass to...

Dylan Chidick, a 17-year-old student in New Jersey who just got accepted into 17 DIFFERENT COLLEGES. That's pretty amazing in and of itself, but Dylan has also had a hard road to travel: His family has endured bouts of homelessness and serious medical conditions since moving to the US from Trinidad when he was 7. Dylan says he was inspired by his mother's courage through it all. "Going through homelessness let me know that there's going to be obstacles," Dylan said, "but as long as (our family is) together, we can get through it."

A bright idea

Is life stressing you out? Yeah, same. It's OK. Go outside and look at some birds. Seriously, spring is an exciting time for bird-watchers everywhere, and studies show that people living in neighborhoods with more birds and tree covers are less likely to have depression, anxiety and stress. A US Fish and Wildlife survey reveals 45 million Americans say they regularly watch birds -- and surely there are millions more around the world. So go ahead, grab some binoculars, head outside and relax. You'll be in very good company.

You gotta see this

Raise your hand if you had (or bought) a toy in the '80s that looked exactly like this! Lo, the childhood fantasies of yore are the technological realities of today. This fuel cell-powered electric "moon buggy" is a joint project between Toyota and Japan's space agency, and they hope to send it into space as soon as 2029. If it all goes according to plan, astronauts could even live in it without having to wear spacesuits.

Heroes among us

CNN Heroes has begun to announce its Heroes of the Year, and first up is Zach Wigal, the founder of Gamers Outreach, a non-profit that designs and builds video game stations for children stuck in the hospital due to long-term medical treatment. Wigal saw that video games in hospitals weren't always accessible to bedridden patients, so his foundation's portable carts aim to bring the fun to everyone. According to one staff member at a children's hospital, giving kids access to fun activities like this helps keep their anxiety and pain levels down. Plus, every young warrior deserves a break from battling difficult diseases to kick a little butt in Halo 2.

Wanna get away?

Is Helsinki the coolest city on Earth? It's certainly cold, but Finnish people are statistically really happy and the scenery, well, you really can't beat it. Plus, Finns are not known for being very talkative, so you can probably enjoy all of Helsinki's wonders in peace.

Tell us something good

Birmingham, AL

When Trinity African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was severely damaged in a fire on Christmas Day, its congregation spent a few months looking for a new church home that could temporarily accommodate its members. It looks like they've found one -- at a nearby synagogue. The leaders of Temple Emanu-El told the church they are welcome to worship in the space for as long as they need. The Rev. Erskine Faush Jr. says the synagogue's hospitality has been "overwhelming," and their interfaith fellowship is proof that "good is stronger than evil."

Impact your world

We want this newsletter to be a place where you can come to smile and feel good about the world, but it doesn't feel right to go without mentioning the tragedy that occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand, this week. Within hours of the attacks on two mosques that left at least 49 dead, people of all faiths were rallying around their Muslim friends and communities. Mosques are receiving messages of solidarity and flowers. A fundraiser passed $400,000 in half a day, and many Christians pledged to attend Friday prayers at their local mosques. So if your heart is hurting, let these expressions of solidarity inspire your own ways of reaching out and sharing love. Here are some other ways to help.

Shameless animal video

There's always time for cute animal videos. That time is now.

This is a two-for-one, because both the cow and the girl are utterly adorable. Go on and live that Disney Princess life, little miss.

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