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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.

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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1989 video brings back strong memories for Gen Xers who came of age in the '80s.

It was the year we saw violence in Tiananmen Square and the dismantling of the Berlin Wall. The year we got Meg Ryan in "When Harry Met Sally" and Michael Keaton in Tim Burton's "Batman." The year "Seinfeld" and "The Simpsons" debuted on TV, with no clue as to how successful they would become. The year that gave us New Kids on the Block and Paula Abdul while Madonna and Janet Jackson were enjoying their heyday.

The jeans were pegged, the shoulders were padded and the hair was feathered and huge. It was 1989—the peak of Gen X youth coming of age.

A viral video of a group of high school students sitting at their desks in 1989—undoubtedly filmed by some geeky kid in the AV club who probably went on to found an internet startup—has gone viral across social media, tapping straight into Gen X's memory banks. For those of us who were in high school at the time, it's like hopping into a time machine.

The show "Stranger Things" has given young folks of today a pretty good glimpse of that era, but if you want to see exactly what the late '80s looked like for real, here it is:

Oh so many mullets. And the Skid Row soundtrack is just the icing on this nostalgia cake. (Hair band power ballads were ubiquitous, kids.)

I swear I went to high school with every person in this video. Like, I couldn't have scripted a more perfect representation of my classmates (which is funny considering that this video came from Paramus High School in New Jersey and I went to high school on the opposite side of the country).

Comments have poured in on Reddit from both Gen Xers who lived through this era and those who have questions.

First, the confirmations:

"Can confirm. I was a freshman that year, and not only did everyone look exactly like this (Metallica shirt included), I also looked like this. 😱😅"

"I graduated in ‘89, and while I didn’t go to this school, I know every person in this room."

"It's like I can virtually smell the AquaNet and WhiteRain hairspray from here...."

"I remember every time you went to the bathroom you were hit with a wall of hairspray and when the wind blew you looked like you had wings."

Then the observations about how differently we responded to cameras back then.

"Also look how uncomfortable our generation was in front of the camera! I mean I still am! To see kids now immediately pose as soon as a phone is pointed at them is insanity to me 🤣"

"Born in 84 and growing up in the late 80’s and 90’s, it’s hard to explain to younger people that video cameras weren’t everywhere and you didn’t count on seeing yourself in what was being filmed. You just smiled and went on with your life."

Which, of course, led to some inevitable "ah the good old days" laments:

"Life was better before the Internet. There, I said it."

"Not a single cell phone to be seen. Oh the freedom."

"It's so nice to be reminded what life was like before cell phones absorbed and isolated social gatherings."

But perhaps the most common response was how old those teens looked.

"Why do they all look like they're in their 30's?"

"Everyone in this video is simultaneously 17 and 49 years old."

"Now we know why they always use 30 y/o actors in high school movies."

As some people pointed out, there is an explanation for why they look old to us. It has more to do with how we interpret the fashion than how old they actually look.

Ah, what a fun little trip down memory lane for those of us who lived it. (Let's just all agree to never bring back those hairstyles, though, k?)