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.

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.