There’s been no shortage of bad news lately. Of course, the news isn’t exactly what we cover at mental_floss magazine. It’s not that we don’t think it’s important to understand what’s happening right now; on the contrary, we know it’s vital. So vital, in fact, that we’ve made it our mission to tell stories you won’t hear anywhere else: stories that provide a deeper appreciation for the world’s incredible diversity and history. We trust that you use these stories alongside the news to put your world into context.

Our January/February issue is special: it’s our first-ever photography issue. It’s a new year, and we thought it was time for a shift in perspective. Because the way we see it, no matter how much bad news there is in a day, there’s also good news: stories that give us reasons to be optimistic about the future, make us pause to marvel at the wonders of the planet, and bring small moments of joy that just don’t need justification.

This month, we set out to collect hard visual proof of this. We started with Hassan Hajjaj's portraits of motorbike-riding women in Marrakesh, one of which we chose for our cover because it so perfectly embodied what we wanted to do with this issue: see the world, see through stereotypes, see brightness and lightness in unexpected places. From there, our quest took us from the boiler rooms of Manhattan to the mountains of Mongolia to the beaches of Alaska. We worked really hard to make this issue one you won't want to miss. It's on newsstands now, but here's one more small bit of good news: you can get this issue for FREE by clicking here. Happy New Year! Let's make it a good one.