The Internet can be a stressful place. But for every every Twitter fight and Zoom fail, there's an aspirational meme or TikTok video to make you smile. These slivers of light—some big, some small, some silly, some serious—bring us hope and comfort when we need it most. Below, the best places to find joy online.
[[FORMAT THESE AS BUTTONS ONCE STORY IS PUBBED]] Music Baking ASMR Fashion Baby Animals Flowers Affirmations Roller-skating Dance Gymnastics
Joy in music
There are millions of talented musicians on TikTok (and it's proven to be the place to get discovered), but Stuart Crout, aka “PocketsUke,” isn't your average content creator. The artistic genius has mastered 13 instruments—including the glockenspiel, otamatone, the melodica, and the cajon—and invented the “kazookeylele” a cross between a kazoo and a ukulele. Crout covers only happy hits on their page (think: “All Star” by Smash Mouth and “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys) and often plays several instruments at the same time.
“My music and my videos are in essence an attempt to try to pick myself up from the day to day, especially during the current world situation,” Crout tells ELLE.com. “If I can make myself laugh or smile while creating something odd or weird, I know I am doing okay. I try to share happiness with as many people as I can through social media.”
Follow PocketsUke here.
Joy in baking
Coinneach MacLeod, aka TikTok's “Hebridean Baker,” whips up traditional pastries in his cozy Scottish cottage and narrates his popular baking videos with a voice that sounds like his signature shortbread cookie come to life. MacLeod says his heritage helped him find joy in quarantine—and now he wants to share that with others.
“There is a saying in Gaelic, ‘beiridh blàths air luaths,’ it means ‘there is a time for everything,’” MacLeod, who is working on a cookbook, tells ELLE.com. “My perfect day [would be] taking a walk down to the shoreline and hearing the sea roar, looking out the window to see [my dog] Peter digging in the garden, planting vegetables, pulling cookbooks from the bookshelf to decide what I’m going to bake, and sitting by the stove learning the tune to an old Gaelic song.”
Follow the Hebridean Baker here.
Joy in ASMR
Some videos can trigger what’s called “ASMR,” a deeply relaxing sensation that helps reduce anxiety. TV painter Bob Ross is regarded as godfather of ASMR, but there's a slew of new speakers on TikTok who've kept us calm during the pandemic. Texas beekeeper Erika Thompson is getting, ahem, buzz for her very relaxing, very informative TikTok videos. In a sweet-as-honey voice, Erika educates her followers and inspires them to make decisions that support the planet’s pollinator populations.
“I hope that people who watch my videos gain a better understanding of the incredible and important work that bees and beekeepers do every day,” Thompson tells ELLE.com. “If you can spend your time doing things that make you happy and also make a difference in the lives of other creatures on the planet besides yourself, that’s joy”
Follow Erika Thompson here.
Joy in fashion
If there were a Kennel Club category for most fashionable, dogfluencer (2.2 million followers and counting) Tika would win. Lizzo crowned the Italian Greyhound “an actual bad bitch,” and Tika models only top-of-the-line doggie outfits, from faux-fur coats to rainbow jumpers.
Tika's motto, she tells ELLE.com via her pooch publicist, is to live every moment with a little bit of joy—and a lot of sparkle. “When it comes to living joyfully I have three main focuses: taking peaceful naps in the sun, eating delicious crunchy snacks, and of course exploring and wearing great fashion,” says Tika.
Follow Tika here.
Joy in baby animals
Being greeted by a flock of more than 100 birds helps Bernard Henry decompress after a long day of studying. Lucky for us, the 27-year-old pre-med student and Connecticut farmer shares his lively feathered friends on Instagram. Henry is known for his adorable baby chick “unboxing” videos, where he introduces newly hatched quail chicks.
“I realize how lucky I am to have my farm and the benefits that it has had on my mental health,” Henry, who runs Fat Hen Farms, tells ELLE.com. “During the pandemic, it has been my vacation away from the stresses of what is going on, and it’s made spreading joy to others that much more important. With the toll social isolation and stress can have on mental health, I try and bring my audience with me on my journey as a farmer.”
Follow Henry's Fat Hen Farms here.
Joy in flowers
Montana's self-described "farmer florist" Julio Freitas runs floral design studio and flower farm The Flower Hat. Like fellow farmer Henry, Freitas has a large Instagram following and posts photos of himself holding things—only instead of baby chicks, Freitas shows off his flowers.
“I try to pick the most beautiful images I can and keep the captions positive, no matter what,” Freitas, 35, tells ELLE.com. “Over the years, many of my followers have told me that they come to my feed as a simple way to try to escape whatever hardship they’re going through, and I feel like it's my job to make sure my posts help them get through their day. Flowers are powerful, they make people smile, even if just for a minute, and that has no price tag.”
Follow The Flower Hat here.
Joy in affirmations
If you're a millennial on Instagram, chances are you've been sent a meme from Global Self Hypnosis, the not-so-grateful gratitude account that's been described as the “antidote to self-help gloom.” The man behind the ironic account is 20-year-old Oslo native Matthew, who says his only rule is no negativity allowed.
“I try to make pictures that look shiny, bright and vivid [to] create a joyous atmosphere,” Matthew tells ELLE.com. “As for the textual aspect, witty phrases and innovating play with words contribute to making this unique, blissful expression. I hope my art will help people express their gratitude. I hope to shed some light on the fact that life by no means is horrible, even though we, of course, are going through difficult times.”
Follow Global Self Hypnosis here.
Joy in rollerskating
There is nothing more mesmerizing than watching roller-skating queen Oumi Janta seamlessly glide down the sidewalk—arms twirling in the air, hair blowing in the breeze. Her viral videos are the perfect cure for pandemic blues.
“In times like these, it is hard to feel joy, to be able to receive or express it,” Janta tells ELLE.com. “My best tip is to concentrate on what makes you happy and see the little things in life. Treat yourself and take initiatives. The more you load that energy, the more you feel joy. Roller-skating makes me feel pure joy. It is simple, and it is enough.”
Follow Oumi Janta here.
Joy in dance
Lockdown was confining, but not all movement was restricted. Since the start of the pandemic, infectious Dutch dance crew Let It Happen has choreographed upbeat dance vignettes for social media with the aim of “spreading joy.” The group is made up of twins Norah and Yarah Mukanga, 15, and their younger sister Rosa Mukanga, 13.
“Dance is one of the activities that gives us joy during the pandemic, and we try to share our feelings of gratitude with the world through our dance videos,” the sisters tell ELLE.com. “Finding the positive in every single step of the journey makes us grateful. Even when our situations are challenging, we try to focus on the positive.”
Follow Let It Happen here.
Joy in gymnastics
The UCLA gymnastics team knows how to turn tumbling into an art—and they have fun doing it. Their routines are hypnotic and their energy is infectious. Team member Margzetta Frazier, who has something of a reputation for her vibrant floor routines to pop songs, says the sport is what has kept her going during the pandemic.
“Knowing that I’m making my younger self incredibly proud brings me immense joy,” Frazier tells ELLE.com. “I take great pride in the beauty of proving that you can do anything that you put your mind to.”
Follow UCLA gymnastics here.
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