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Writing Your Way to Happiness

A New York Times article, Writing Your Way to Happiness, collects recent research on the powerful effects of writing personal stories and journaling. Truth Be Told programs have always incorporated these tools, so we love seeing the scientific validation. Talk To Me, our basic eight-week prison program, leads the women through a process of understanding, owning and sharing their stories.

Photo credit: Chris Gash

The article quotes Dr. James Pennebaker, a University of Texas psychology professor who has led much of the work on expressive writing, “The idea here is getting people to come to terms with who they are, where they want to go. I think of expressive writing as a life course correction.”

The article continues…

The scientific research on the benefits of so-called expressive writing is surprisingly vast. Studies have shown that writing about oneself and personal experiences can improve mood disorders, help reduce symptoms among cancer patients, improve a person’s health after a heart attack, reduce doctor visits and even boost memory.

Now researchers are studying whether the power of writing — and then rewriting — your personal story can lead to behavioral changes and improve happiness.

The concept is based on the idea that we all have a personal narrative that shapes our view of the world and ourselves. But sometimes our inner voice doesn’t get it completely right. Some researchers believe that by writing and then editing our own stories, we can change our perceptions of ourselves and identify obstacles that stand in the way of better health.

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