Important lessons we can learn from 10 kids' New Year's resolutions.

Sometimes we adults complicate things.

We tend to really do that at certain times, like at the new year. We can feel pressure — self-inflicted or from others around us — to make big New Year's resolutions and lofty goals for life changes.

But kids? They're rational about these things. The balance of their future doesn't hang on a few big goals.

Can you imagine a 7-year-old stressing about losing all the pounds, getting a promotion, and never getting behind on laundry — all over the course of one year?


Neither can I.

To help us approach New Year's resolutions more like kids do, I asked a few kids (through their parents) what resolutions they planned to make.

1. It's all about happiness for kids.

9-year-old Frankie feels that the new year is about happiness — and a new plot, of course. While I can't be 100% certain what he meant by a "new plot," I have a good idea. And I think we could take a page out of that book for approaching the new year if the last one wasn't the best. A fresh start — let's do this!

GIF provided by Mary Rindelsbach.

Additionally, in the new year, he'd like to "help other people do better," which is pretty much the most noble goal ever. What if our New Year's resolutions centered around being nice to others?

(His adorable 6-year-old sister Harper was like, "I don't even know." In this case, I think ignorance is totally bliss.)

2. Speaking of giving back...

4-year-old Xander Lucien is all about it in the new year.

GIF provided by Alicia Champion.

"I got it! I got it!" he excitedly exclaimed. "For myself, I want to give my toys to another person." Heart = melted.

3. There's nothing wrong with some practicality.

4-year-old Finley is well-educated when it comes to calendars. Because of a song he learned in preschool about the earth traveling around the sun in 365 days, he totally gets the concept of a year.

Photo by Kelli Doré.

When his mom Kelli asked him about what he wants to accomplish in 2016, he had some plans. "I want to learn how to cook better, I want to use better listening ears so I can have dessert, I want to make new friends, I want to do more yard work, and I want to play outside and eat snow," he said.

The best part? They're all plans to make him happier. I mean, who isn't happier after having more dessert and making new friends?!

5. Some kids balance practical self-improvement with doing some good.

My kiddo!

I asked my daughter Molley, age 7, what her resolutions were. After she asked what a resolution is and I explained, she looked at me kinda funny and said, "Oh, I want to learn to do the splits. I'm also going to raise money to help animals that need homes or are sick. Those aren't resolutions, though. I was just planning on doing that anyway. But you can call them resolutions if you'd like." I'm on board with that approach — regular old plans, less pressure.

6. Some kids balance practical goals with the reality of being a kid.

Photo by Minsun Park.

Asher, age 9, has priorities. When his mom asked him about his New Year's resolutions, he had two: "To slow down when I take tests so I don't make careless mistakes. Oh, and to fart more at the table." Reasonable goals if you ask me.

7. Some kids are having literally none of it.

Photo provided by Rory Mullen.

8-year-old Boo didn't know what resolutions were, but once she found out, she wasn't having any of it. Here's how the conversation with her mom went:

Boo: "I'm only 8. I don't even know what that is."

[Her mom explained resolutions and the goals of self-improvement.]

Boo: "I think you missed the part before when I said I'm only 8. I'm too young to have regrets. And every day I'm alive I get a chance to be a better version of myself. I'm not going to wait until the new year to start. That's stupid."

Can I get an amen? (And how can I learn to be as insightful as an 8-year-old?)

8. Other kids really do have important stuff goin' on that requires their attention.

"[Max] and his friends are designing Mario LEGO sets together at recess," his mom told me of her 7-year-old son and his friends. "They have defined an area of the playground as their 'office' so they can have meetings and plan. Apparently that's different than playing."

I was thinking, future CEO maybe? And then she shared his New Year's resolution and I was like, future CEO definitely.

Photo provided by Lizz Porter.

"I think I should do more meetings for my Super Mario 3D World LEGO design group," Max said. "I keep canceling them so I can go play instead. And maybe see The Force Awakens a hundred more times."

Props to Max for reminding us in the midst of all this "chill out about resolutions" talk that there is nothing wrong with ambition. But also, we gotta balance it with some leisure time.

9. Kids do what they want to do, not what they think they should do.

Photo provided by Kate Hamernik.

9-year-old Josie's resolution was the best reminder that maybe we should make goals to do more of what we enjoy instead of what we feel like we should do.

She was recently the narrator in her first play. “My New Year's resolution is to get better at acting because I like to make people laugh and also because I like to sing and dance," she said.

10. At the end of the day, kids are all about the real talk.

Gigi Faith, 12, is about as realistic as one can get when it comes to resolutions. "I make New Year's resolutions but I never keep them — I don't think anybody does," she said. "You might say, 'I'm going to eat healthier or I'm going to be better about getting my homework done' and maybe you do for a week. After that, nope!"

Basically, whether we make big resolutions, small resolutions, or skip them altogether, the key to happiness, according to kids, seems simple: Do more of what makes us happy — and that includes not making any resolutions if we don't want to and letting go of the ones that don't work out, guilt-free.

Since his first hit single "Keep Your Head Up" in 2011, award-winning multi-platinum recording artist Andy Grammer has made a name for himself as the king of the feel-good anthem. From "Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)" to "Honey, I'm Good" to "Back Home" and more, his positive, upbeat songs have blared on beaches and at backyard barbecues every summer.

So what does a singer who loves to perform in front of live audiences and is known for uplifting music do during an unexpectedly challenging year of global pandemic lockdown?

He goes inward.

Grammer told Upworthy that losing the ability to perform during the pandemic forced him to look at where his self-worth came from. "I thought I would have scored better, to be honest," he says. "Like, 'Oh, I get it from all the important, right places!' And then it's taken all away in one moment, and you're like, 'Oh, nope, I was getting a lot from that.'

"It's kind of cool to break all the way down and then hopefully put myself back together in a way that's a little more solid," he says.

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Since his first hit single "Keep Your Head Up" in 2011, award-winning multi-platinum recording artist Andy Grammer has made a name for himself as the king of the feel-good anthem. From "Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)" to "Honey, I'm Good" to "Back Home" and more, his positive, upbeat songs have blared on beaches and at backyard barbecues every summer.

So what does a singer who loves to perform in front of live audiences and is known for uplifting music do during an unexpectedly challenging year of global pandemic lockdown?

He goes inward.

Grammer told Upworthy that losing the ability to perform during the pandemic forced him to look at where his self-worth came from. "I thought I would have scored better, to be honest," he says. "Like, 'Oh, I get it from all the important, right places!' And then it's taken all away in one moment, and you're like, 'Oh, nope, I was getting a lot from that.'

"It's kind of cool to break all the way down and then hopefully put myself back together in a way that's a little more solid," he says.

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Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."