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.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

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James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

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4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

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