9 reasons why writing in a journal should be your only resolution in the new year.

If you've got a list of resolutions, this one thing will cover them ALL.

9 reasons why writing in a journal should be your only resolution in the new year.

Once upon a time in Texas, some computer engineers got fired.

After four months of unemployment, not a single one of them had found a new job. Something a little surprising gave them hope ... and better results in their job hunt.

A diary.


In a study led by University of Texas researcher James W. Pennebaker, a group of the jobless professionals got in touch with their feelings and wrote about it, diary style. 20 minutes. Writing. Emotions. Repeat. Daily.

It's what Pennebaker wanted to test. Could this emotional writing practice reduce stress and help solve the problems these engineers were having?

"Listen, Frank. We're going to write about our feelings in a diary. Just accept it." Image by SDASM Archives/Flickr.

In the group that got all up in their feelings and put them down on paper, more than 26% found a new job.

"So if i don't address my feelings in an emotional journal, I'm less likely to find my next job? Whoa." More on this below. Image by Nasjonalbiblioteket/Flickr.

The other engineers wrote about non-emotional stuff like time management, or they wrote nothing at all. Less than 5% of those in this group found a job.

And as it turns out, emotionally expressive writing is useful for so much more than finding a job.

It can improve your health, your happiness, your goals, your love life ... everything! And for those of you thinking, "Whatever diaries are dumb," try thinking of journaling or freewriting as PRODUCTIVE MEDITATION.

And we're off ...

Writing in a journal should be your ONLY New Year's resolution this year. And I'll prove it to you.

Name a resolution, and we'll keep it using — you guessed it — a writing practice! Let's get started.

1. If your resolution is to be healthier:

All images by Lori White.

Journaling can help you with your immunity.

Ever heard of T lymphocytes? Me neither, until I learned that regular journaling can strengthen these important immune cells. More research, chronicled at PsychCentral, also shows that journaling can reduce symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.

2. If your resolution is to be happier:

Emotional writing can heal mental and emotional wounds ... after about two weeks.

I know I've been cheerleading for emotional journaling, but know this: the first two weeks will be rough. In one study, during the beginning of emotional writing, subjects got more depressed, and some of their blood pressures even increased!

Writing about trauma is uncomfortable in the short run, but after a brief period of time, the costs can disappear and the benefits emerge ― and they last.

As one participant admitted, "Although I have not talked with anyone about what I wrote, I was finally able to deal with it, work through the pain instead of trying to block it out. Now it doesn't hurt to think about it."

3. If your resolution is to lose weight:

Journaling helps process emotions, which are an often ignored obstacle to weight loss and healthy habits!

OK, first, you're perfect the way you are. And second, long-term studies found no relationship between only weight loss and health improvements. Weight loss doesn't contribute to a healthier you, but healthy habits do! So maybe think about a resolution to form some healthier habits.

The emotional aspect of weight loss is overlooked, and journaling is proven to help with emotional processing.

From Dr. Diary, aka James W. Pennebaker:

"When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experience improved health. ... They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function. If they are first-year college students, their grades tend to go up. People will tell us months afterward that it’s been a very beneficial experience for them."

4. If your resolution is to be less stressed:

Pennebaker believes that writing about stress can help you come to terms with it.

Stress has physical symptoms too. So if you journal about stress and therefore reduce stress, you'll also reduce physical symptoms of stress. Easy!

5. If your resolution is to heal that cut on your finger from when you were slicing the holiday ham:

Journaling might just help heal physical wounds too.

Yes, really. In a study in New Zealand, 72% of a group who'd done expressive writing after a biopsy were fully healed, versus 42% of a group who'd done no writing. Researchers think the writing may have led to better sleep and reduced stress, and therefore ... heal-ier wounds!

Cool, huh?

6. If your resolution is to get a new job:

Journaling can help you find a job faster, but not necessarily get more interviews.

It's a quality-quantity thing.

An interesting tidbit on this from the study of the laid off engineer story at the very beginning of this article:

"Interestingly, expressive writing didn't land the engineers any more interviews. It just increased the odds that they were hired when they did have an interview. "

And if you think the whole thing about the expressive journal-ers getting jobs is a little too good to be true, it's worth noting that the scientists who first did this study have been able to replicate it many more times.

7. If your resolution is to write more:

Journaling daily not only can help heal the emotional blocks of insecurity, perfectionism, and other fun demons ... it can train you to just write, censor-free, and to just generally make things.

Emotional journaling, aka the concept of morning pages, is a basic tenet of a book titled "The Artist's Way" — which has sold millions of copies. Plus, it's a book I like and I create things for a living!

8. If your resolution is to be a more creative soul:

Journaling can get your right brain involved.

Problem solving gets relegated to your analytical left brain most of the time, but sometimes analyzing a problem ain't gonna cut it. That's when it's great to get your RIGHT brain involved. And one of the quickest ways to do that is through writing!

There's even a theory, based on MRI imaging, that activating your brain and then resting it leads to more a-ha moments.

9. If your resolution is to be better at your job:

Plain ol' emotional writing will make you miss less work and get better grades, but writing about how your work is making a difference might make you better at that job!

A study of fundraising found that when people working in stressful fundraising jobs journaled about how their job was making a difference for just a few days, it increased their hourly effort by 29% over the following two weeks.

Excuse me I have some deadlines coming up, so I'm gonna take 20 minutes now to write about how this article is making a difference ... hold on a sec.

So .. how?

Start journaling when you feel ready. Set a time. Stick to it.

20 minutes. Three pages. Whatever.

Get in your feelings.

Pennebaker's research has shown that writing about traumatic events only improves health when people describe facts and feelings.

Throw in some gratitude and maybe a line or two about achieving future goals and dreams and the difference you're making in life. Don't be too strict.

Trust yourself! You know what's making you feel better!

You'll be in good company. George Washington, Virginia Woolf, Pablo Picasso, Richard Branson, and Mark Twain are just some of the members of the diary club.

Don't worry about the writing being "good." Writing is like dancing! We can all dance in our own way ... and no one gets to tell you you're dancing "wrong" because they're not you.

It might sound pretty out there to be all "I'm writing in my diary now!" — but there's nothing flighty or youthfully naive about decades of scientific research that show that something as simple (AND FREE!) as writing for 20 minutes a day can change your life.

Try it in 2016.

Resolutions are annoying: They make you feel bad, and they're often just plain annoying to try to meet. I'm sharing this so that we can all be done with those obnoxious, shaming, icky-feeling New Year's resolutions.

All we need to do to get started on a better year — according to research! — is put a pen to paper. It's free. It's easy. And you deserve ALL that it can bring you in 2016.

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
True

With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

Keep Reading Show less

Part of the reason why the O.J. Simpson trial still captures our attention 25 years later is because it's filled with complexities - and complexities on top of complexities at that. Kim Kardashian West finally opened up about her experience during the O.J. Simpson trial on the third season of David Letterman's Netflix show My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, adding another layer to the situation.

Kardashian, who was 14 at the time, said she was close to Simpson before the trial, calling him "Uncle O.J." The whole Kardashian-Jenner brood even went on a family vacation in Mexico with the Simpsons just weeks before Nicole's murder.


Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less
via Jody Danielle Fisher / Facebook

Breast milk is an incredibly magical food. The wonderful thing is that it's produced by a collaboration between mother and baby.

British mother Jody Danielle Fisher shared the miracle of this collaboration on Facebook recently after having her 13-month-old child vaccinated.

In the post, she compared the color of her breast milk before and after the vaccination, to show how a baby's reaction to the vaccine has a direct effect on her mother's milk production.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Rod Long on Unsplash

We've heard that character is on the ballot this election—but also that policy matters more than personality. We've heard that integrity and honesty matter—but also that we're electing the leader of a nation, not the leader of a Boy Scout troop.

How much a candidate's character matters has been a matter of debate for decades. But one of the odd juxtapositions of the Trump era is that arguably the most historically immoral, character-deficient candidate has been embraced by the evangelical Christian right, who tout morality more than most. Trump won the right's "moral majority" vote by pushing conservative policies, and there is a not-so-small percentage of "one issue" voters—the issue being abortion—who are willing to overlook any and all manner of sin for someone who says they want to "protect the unborn."

So when a prominent, staunchly pro-life, conservative Christian pastor comes out with a biblical argument that basically says "Yeah, no, the benefit doesn't outweigh the cost," it makes people sit up and listen.


Keep Reading Show less