In a society obsessed with putting wealth, fame and beauty at the forefront of success, many have forgotten the more human values of what it means to be happy- and it seems to be harming our mental health. According to a recent study, Americans are more depressed than they have been in decades and Westerners from other parts of the world aren't much better off.
It should be of little wonder then that those in some of the poorest parts of the world are happiest. Why? Because they are forced to find satisfaction in things that matter, like kinship, solidarity, and friendship, things that all help foster a greater togetherness in their local communities. But in the developed world, these fundamental human attributes are becoming lost in a haze of societal shifts geared more towards an ego-centric narrative and Hollywood has been no exception in helping shape this.
However, the good news is that not every celebrity has lost themselves in their own hype. Many have remained grounded and given back to those less fortunate. Here are 30 heartwarming examples.
1. Matthew McConaughey
The affable Texan is one of the smoothest guys in Hollywood with a host of impressive acting credits to his name. But there's more to the Academy Award-winner than his profession.
As well as being a standout guy in an industry dominated by media-trained puppets, Matthew has put his fame and good fortune to use by creating the Just Keep Livin' foundation, which has so far raised more than $2 million to help support child education programs.
2. Angelina Jolie
Despite her name becoming increasingly synonymous with her impending divorce from Brad Pitt than her actual work as an actress or humanitarian, many people seem to have forgotten she is a human being and not a cartoon villian from a Hollywood comic.
Regularly donating 7 and sometimes 8-figure sums to charity, the actress is also one of the few stars to walk the walk and actually spend their time on the front line helping the most impoverished people in the world as her commendable work as a Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N. has proved.
3. Miley Cyrus
Despite finding fame and fortune at a young age following the breakout success of Disney's Hannah Montanna, Cyrus has always stayed remarkably grounded which is a testament to her upbringing. Born into a showbiz family, her father Billy Ray was a famed country singer who raised his daughter right as she's turned out to be one of the more approachable, level-headed pop stars in recent years.
An eco-conscious star who campaigns for animal welfare, Cyrus also regularly pays visits to her local homeless shelters and often donates clothes and educational equipment to poorly-funded schools.
A true American icon who has wowed us for years with her spellbinding on-stage presence and remarkable talents as a singer, Beyonce is very much a global superstar, but it's her humble nature and ability to reach out to those in need that makes her star quality shine through.
She is always one of the first names on the list whenever a charity concert is taking place and often uses her platform to help promote causes that promote education and women's' rights.
5. Barbra Streisand
The Barbra Streisand Foundation has seen more than $1m in charitable causes over the years, and it's all thanks to one of America's finest entertainers. These projects are varied and range from the Union of Concerned Scientists to Planned Parenthood Federation of America and IAVA, a charity that assists war veterans post-service.
The only female singer in U.S. chart history to score 10 number one albums, Streisand has sold over 72m albums and has a net worth of around $400m.
6. Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran's affable personality and clear-to-see sincerity are arguably what his fans love most about him in an industry dominated by ruthlessness and egos.
While he always had a burning desire to succeed, he's never let his successful quest for fame cloud his conscience, and even people who don't like his music have a soft spot for this lovely redhead who has proven that nice guys don't always finish last. Some of his notable charity donations over the years have included the East Anglia's Children's Hospices and Elton John's AIDS Foundation.
7. Ellen Degeneres
Everyone's favorite daytime talk show host is argubally America's most famous person thanks to her titular series, Ellen. But Ellen isn't only a national treasure because of her fame and skills as a talk show host/ bad soccer mom dancer.
She's also dug deep into her pockets over the years and invested in many noteworthy causes including the ACLU of Southern California. American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign and the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education.
8. Mel Gibson
A devout Christian who wrote and directed The Passion of the Christ, it should come as little surprise that Mel Gibson has donated a large chunk of his fortune to the Church of the Holy Family.
The What Women Want actor has also handed over more than $6 million to the A.P Reilly Foundation, a foundation he helped co-found.
9. Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is one of America's foremost women and hasn't shied away from the most pressing topics of our time, so much so that the media mogul made it her goal to support many important charities over the years.
These include an array of educational foundations and institutions, including The Angel Network, The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, and The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation, all of which have received millions in donations from Winfrey herself.
10. Jerry Seinfeld
One of the world's wealthiest celebrities hit the big time when Seinfeld got syndicated, and he's been using his royalties to support multiple charities including ones that support Jewish education.
He also donates to children and health organizations via the Seinfeld Family Foundation which has so far donated more than $1 million.
11. Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj caused a stir on social media last year after she promised to pay her young fans' college tuition fees! In a series of tweets, the Starships hitmaker decided to pay off her loyal fans' college debts if they could prove they were achieving top grades.
The 34-year-old has already been in contact with 30 users, and in the coming months promises she will pay for more.
The goodwill gesture came about after initially promising to cover the international airfare costs of contest winners. Though one US student wasn't having it, and tweeted, “Well you wanna pay for my tuition?”
Instead of ignoring it, the pop superstar responded by sending Young Twitter into meltdown. 'Show me straight A's that I can verify w/ur school and I'll pay it. Who wants to join THAT contest?!?! Dead serious. Shld I set it up?' wrote Nicki.
12. Emma Watson
The British actress has come a long way since her days as Hermoine Grainer in the Harry Potter movies. Now a bonafide A-list star, Watson seems to have been inspired by her famous overachieving character. Since parting ways with Hermoine, Watson has spent a large portion of her time helping aid humanitarian and charity programmes.
She even put her glowing career on hold so she could focus more on her education initiatives with the U.N. and promote a greater understanding of gender equality in universities.
13. Sandra Bullock
One of America's finest screen actresses has had a long and distinguished career than millions of hopefuls can only dream of replicating.
This kind of success has allowed Bullock to amass a multi-million dollar fortune, a lot of which she has put to good use by donating to a series of charitable foundations including Doctors Without Borders.
14. Keanu Reeves
If ever there was an award for the Nicest Guy in Hollywood, Keanu Reeves would win every year. Yes, despite his agonies in love and the grief of losing a child, Reeves has bounced back time and time again, all while being a great human being.
Despite earning many millions, Reeves still gets the subway in New York and donated his entire Matrix salary to the special effects and wardrobe teams.
15. Carmelo Anthony
One of the finest basketball players in recent years enjoyed a stellar playing career in the NBA and for the U.S. national team, with his long-range shooting ability among the best to have ever played the game. However, there's more to Melo then his love for the 3-pointer.
In 2012 alone he made an $830,000 donation to help students from low-income households with study grants.
16. Jennifer Aniston
Hollywood actress Jennifer Aniston isn't only a sweetheart; she's also incredibly generous. She donated $1m to relief efforts in Puerto Rico following the fatal damage caused by Hurricane Maria and Hurrican Harvey.
The money was split equally between the Ricky Martin Foundation for Peurto Rico and the American Red Cross, leading the Puerto Rican singing sensation to take to Twitter to express his gratitude. “Jennifer Aniston U R amazing Thanx 4 donating $500k for our #PuertoRico relief fund. We will never forget. U R saving lives Jenn #Allin4PR”.
17. Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio is known for his charitable donations toward an array of sustainability projects, but he's also put his money where his mouth is in times of emergency; as he proved when he donated $1m to the Hurricane Harvey relief fund.
The Academy Award winner's generous donation helped thousands of residents displaced from their homes in Southeastern Texas and Southwestern Louisiana.
Leo's donation went through United Way Harvey Recovery Fund, which promised to "distribute 100 percent of donations for recovery in the affected areas, community by community, in the months and years ahead."
Confirming the $1m donation, United Way Worldwide CEO Brian Gallagher expressed his gratitude in a statement. " "We are incredibly grateful for the generosity of Leonardo DiCaprio and his foundation. Responding to Hurricane Harvey requires the best of all of us–and that's what this gift represents."
18. Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift has been part of many charitable causes, but her most noted came when she made a personal donation of $250,000 to Kesha in her ongoing legal battle against the infamous producer, Dr. Luke.
The 'Blank Space' hitmaker wanted to display a "show of support" to her fellow pop star after a court ruled could that she couldn't break her exclusive contract with Dr. Luke despite her claims the producer sexually abused her. The 'Tik Tok' singer's mother, Pebe Sebert was the person who broke the news. "Taylor Swift has just generously donated $250,000 to Kesha, as a show of support during this difficult time. AMAZING!!" she tweeted.
"A persons wealth is not measured by what they have but by WHO they they help with it. And Taylor Swift is is a truly RICH PERSON. Thank you.
"Most important for Kesha, is that these beautiful, powerful women are standing behind her, letting the world see how powerful the truth is!(sic)"
19. George Lucas
The Star Wars creator is the richest man in Hollywood with a net worth well into the billions, but few are aware of his various charitable donations over the years- most of which have been pretty sizeable.
The success of the George Lucas Educational Foundation alone has been truly staggering, with the director himself donating more than $4m to a foundation which teaches young people to be responsible citizens.
20. JK Rowling
From the creator of one pop culture phenomenon to another, J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series has captivated an entire generation of children and made her one of the leading faces of the age-old rags-to-riches story.
While Forbes has calculated her career royalties to be well over $1bn, Rowling's generosity over the years has seen her part way with over $160m of that figure to invest in many charitable causes.
22. Sam Simon
Sam Simon may not be the most famous person in Tinseltown, but he's undoubtedly one of the most successful and respected writers in the business thanks to his prolific work on the hit animated Fox series, The Simpsons.
This magnificent success is matched only by his generosity. For instance, Simon recently invested $1m into a foundation which helps rescue and rehome abandoned dogs.
Santa's Little Helper would be proud.
23. Alec Baldwin
The most famous of the Baldwin brothers doesn't only do a mean impression of Donald Trump; he also invests a lot of his wealth into charity.
These range from generous donations in the field of breast cancer research to charities that help support and better promote the arts.
24. Zach Galifianakis
Many people in show business remain faithful to the glitzy image the place exudes and end up buying pet monkeys, yellow hummers and outlandish mansions fit for no one but themselves.
However, there are those who are quite the exception and prove that judging a book by its cover can be terribly short-sighted. Just take Hangover star, Zach Galifianakis.
Despite being one of Hollywood's most successful comic actors, Zach still drives the same beatdown car he did before he was famous and even made headlines across the world after inviting an 87-year-old homeless woman to three of his premieres. He also purchased an apartment for her.
What a guy!
25. Robin Williams
Honoring the fallen as well as the living, it would almost be a crime to not include the late Robin Williams on a list devoted to warmhearted celebrities, and one only has to Google "I met Robin Williams" to believe us.
The guy went above and beyond, despite quietly suffering from depression for most of his adult life.
He visited troops stationed overseas in his spare time. He was there until the end for best friend Christopher Reeve after he developed quadriplegia following a horse riding accident and was the first person who made him laugh in hospital.
In the words of the man himself, "The saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it's like to feel absolutely worthless."
26. Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks is one nice man. For starters, he always comes out with credibility in his movies without exhibiting the slightest air of arrogance or self-worth. In fact, Hanks is so down-to-earth he's even dug into his pockets for people who have felt their money has been wasted on his movies!
He may be worth $350m, but it appears the smaller things in life are far more important to the family man and that includes giving back to many charities over the years including the American Foundation for AIDS Research, Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes and BID 2 BEAT AIDS.
27. Jack Black
You probably don't need to meet Jack Black to know that he's a man who doesn't understand what the words rude and unapproachable mean, such is his warm and friendly personality. And no, I haven't had the good fortune of serenading the guy with Tenacious D tunes but according to one Reddit user, he more than lived up to fan's expectations.
"He was by far THE NICEST celebrity I have ever met," enthused one lucky fan. "When Jack came out everyone started cheering, and then suddenly hushed up because he was pushing his then- newborn son, Sam in a stroller. Once Sam was on the tour bus, Jack went to the person nearest the door, and took pictures, etc. And spent at least 30 seconds to a minute with every single person waiting for him."
28. Lady Gaga
Modern-day pop stars used to be pinups and nothing else. At best they possessed charisma to add to their beauty and talents, but all in all, most didn't have much success relating to the everyday fan but that's changed in recent years, with stars like Lady Gaga a prime example.
Sure, it's not every day you meet someone skimpily-clad in a dress made entirely from meat, but she cares deeply about female liberation and being true to yourself, leading many- particularly women and those from minority communities- to find her incredibly inspiring.
The superstar even attends various support groups and kindly offers her time to charities that deal with issues impacting vulnerable women.
She burps on stage and swears like a trooper. Yes, Adele Atkins of Tottenham, London, is no ordinary superstar.
The cockney lass is unique and possesses an authenticity and unassuming personality that is almost impossible to find in showbusiness. She's also donated large sums of money to various charities over the years, most notably to victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in London that saw 89 residents lose their lives in one of London's deadliest fires.
30. Tom Hiddleston
Okay, back to the Brits, this time in the mold of the devilishly handsome and classicly trained actor Tom Hiddleston who came to the world's attention last year for his brief serendipity with superstar songstress Taylor Swift. And yes, he did wear a cringe white T-shirt with the words 'I Heart T.S', but after reciting a story from one of his first jobs as a waiter, you won't be able to get enough of the guy.
Speaking to Empire Magazine in 2013, Tom said, "It was at a showy opera festival in a barn in Oxfordshire. I did it for a whole summer and people would be so extraordinarily rude that it made me decide that I would never be rude in my life..."