Most news reports focus on the negative, but good things happened every day of 2014. Normal, everyday people do amazing things to support their community members or people in need.

That’s why good news is so inspiring—it reminds us that at any moment, we can become someone else’s hero or do something extraordinary. Filling your mind up with these positive stories brightens the day and can give you hope that you can persevere through anything.

Here are some of the most inspiring news stories from 2014.

1. This grandmother can deadlift twice her weight

Most people who think of 77-year-old women don’t immediately think of brawny weightlifters.

But Willie Murphy, a Maplewood, N.Y. woman, started weightlifting five years ago, and can now deadlift 215 pounds and do one-handed pushups. She tells USA Today:

“I never use the word, ‘I can’t.’ I will just simply say, ‘I will try.’ That’s the way I live my life, is just trying to do my best.”

Murphy not only hits the gym regularly, she’s also won weightlifting championships and snagged the World Natural Powerlifting Federation 2014 Lifter of the Year award.

2. Co-workers share lottery jackpot

If you won the lottery, would you share? A group of 12 co-workers at a Florida Keller Williams real estate office scored a $1 million jackpot—but one woman, a newly hired administrative assistant, hadn’t chipped in $20.

The woman, Jennifer Maldonado, had been unemployed and opted to instead save the $20 instead of playing the lottery. Employee Laurie Finkelstein Reader, who organized the office lottery pool, tells the Today show:

“We felt we had been blessed with this incredible happening, and we wanted her to be a part of it and be able to feel what we were feeling.”

After learning the news, the group quickly decided to include Maldonado in the winnings. Each member who participated in the pool will receive about $83,000 after taxes, and they’ll give Maldonado an undisclosed amount that’s more than $5,000. surveyed readers and asked what they would do in a similar situation. The answers “no” and “it depends” each tied for 41% with 18% of respondents saying, “yes, it’s the right thing to do.”

What would you do? Tell us in the comments below!

3. NFL player becomes farmer to feed the hungry

The National Football League has had its share of bad publicity lately, but one player from the St. Louis Rams is turning that around.

Jason Brown, who plays center for the team, bowed out of his $37.5 million contract early in 2014, leaving $12.5 million behind to buy a 1,000-acre farm in North Carolina.

The football star didn’t have much farming experience, but watched YouTube videos to learn how. Instead of selling all the vegetables, Brown donates the crops to food banks. One fall, he donated 46,000 pounds of sweet potatoes and 10,000 pounds of cucumbers.

4. Helping teen girls get on the ‘write’ path

When Keren Taylor received a severance check after being laid from her job as a sales executive, she didn’t hibernate and think about her next career move. She started a non-profit, even digging into her savings to make it happen.

The organization, called WriteGirl, teaches at-risk teenagers in Los Angeles creative writing skills. The girls face serious challenges in their communities, from violence to drugs to overwhelmed schools. Taylor tells CNN:

“They need to know that their voice is important. Their stories are important.”

While Los Angeles public schools have a nearly 25% high school drop out rate, Taylor’s group has helped 500 girls not only graduate high school, but go to college. Through the program they receive mentoring for writing, but also learn speaking skills and have access to academic support. Mentors include professionals from many fields, including journalism, business, and screenwriting.

Learning how to speak up teaches the girls to ask for help, whether at school or home. For students who are pregnant or incarcerated, Taylor sends mentors to them. Through the program, the girls learn they have choices. Taylor says:

“A lot of our girls have those ah-ha moments, like, ‘Wow, I could be a journalist.’ Or ‘I could go on to college outside of Los Angeles.’”

Taylor says she doesn’t regret leaving the corporate world at all. She adds:

“I wake up every morning and I think about how we can make a greater impact.”

5. Girl with multiple sclerosis becomes track star

Kayla Montgomery, a top-ranking long distance runner, has achieved her sports success despite having a debilitating condition—multiple sclerosis. MS causes numbness in the legs by disrupting nerve signals every time she runs.

Despite her physical challenges, she went from being an average runner at her North Carolina high school to ranking as one of the nation’s fastest distance runners. ESPN featured Montgomery in a documentary called, “Catching Kayla.” She told the sports network:

[Running] makes me feel normal and whole. It’s difficult to live with a disease where your own body’s fighting against yourself; so when I’m running I feel like I’m battling that, I feel like I’m safe from myself. As long as I’m running, everything’s fine.”

After graduating high school, Montgomery went on to college at Lipscomb University in Tennessee, where she ran with the women’s cross-country team.

6. Younger generations showing greater virtue than their elders, scholar says

Criticism abounds of younger generations, whether it be that they’re self-absorbed, technology obsessed, or raised with too much praise.

But University of New Hampshire sociology professor David Finkelhor says younger generations are committing fewer crimes than previous generations at the same age. Meanwhile, as of 2014, teenage pregnancy has fallen to record lows, and binge drinking among high school seniors has also sunk to historical lows.

Even though school shootings have gained much publicity, Finkelhor says school homicides have declined while student-to-student violent crime dropped 60% from 1992 to 2012.

Social scientists aren’t sure how to explain the improved behavior, but guess that it may be due to better treatment of depression and other mood disorders—both in kids and their parents. Technology may also play a role. It reduces boredom, which leads to trouble, and also keeps kids in closer contact with parents.

What is your favorite inspirational, feel-good story of 2014?

Image by carterse via Flickr