More people have read Greater Good magazine since the start of the pandemic than during any other period of our two-decade history. We’re not entirely sure this is good news. People around the world faced formidable emotional and social challenges as we all trudged through yet another year of COVID-19. And we at the Greater Good Science Center can see your distress in our site-traffic patterns, as readers turn to us for help in navigating issues like isolation, vaccination, and social conflict.

We can only hope that our articles, podcasts, and videos have indeed played a positive role in difficult times. Here are the 20 most popular Greater Good articles from the past year, according to Google Analytics, followed by our staff’s nominations for the 10 best (but not-as-popular) articles we published in 2021.

1. Five Ways to Respond to People Who Don’t Want the COVID-19 Vaccine, by Jill Suttie: Here are some research-based guidelines to help people overcome their vaccine hesitancy.

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2. How Anxiety Hides in Your Habits, by Kira Newman: Before you try any tips to reduce anxiety, you have to understand your own anxiety routines, a new book argues.

3. Five Ways to Keep Your Brain Healthy as You Age, by Jill Suttie: A new book argues that making healthy lifestyle choices can stave off cognitive decline at any age.

4. Why Are Asian Americans Being Attacked and What Can You Do About It?, by Zaid Jilani: Here are science-backed ways we can reduce hatred and division.

5. Four Surprising Ways to Get a Better Night’s Sleep, by Jill Suttie: Research suggests that practicing gratitude, forgiveness, mindfulness, and self-compassion may improve our sleep during stressful times.

“Did you hear the year '2022' back when this started and think that was incomprehensibly far away? ”
―Lindsey Antin, Stumbling Into the Next Stage of Your Pandemic Life

6. Ten Ways to Make Your Time Matter, by Oliver Burkeman: Accepting our mortality helps us let go of busyness and focus on what’s most important to us in order to live a happier, more meaningful life.

7. The Six Keys to Positive Communication, by Julien C. Mirivel: Communicating better can help you achieve your goals and deepen your relationships.

8. Stumbling Into the Next Stage of Your Pandemic Life, by Lindsey Antin: A therapist explores the psychology of coming back from the big pandemic pause.

9. A Different Way to Respond When Kids Do Something Wrong, by Joanne Chen: Restorative practices—taking responsibility, making amends, and seeking forgiveness—are an alternative to strict punishments and blame.

10. Six Ways to Manage Coronavirus Depression by Jill Suttie: Knowing what depression looks like and how to manage it can help prevent you from slipping into dark moods.

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11. What Is the Best Way to Deliver a Thank-You?, by Elizabeth Hopper: New research compares the benefits of expressing gratitude by text, by video, and face-to-face.

12. 10 Pillars of a Strong Relationship, by Gary W. Lewandowski Jr.: Many of the keys to a satisfying, lasting bond are probably already present in your relationship.

13. 36 Questions That Can Help Kids Make Friends, by Jill Suttie: A question-and-answer exercise may help middle schoolers build friendships, including with kids of different ethnicities.

14. Calm a Distressed Mind by Changing Your Environment, by Kira Newman: A new book offers tools to help you avoid being overwhelmed by negative thoughts and feelings.

15. Six Causes of Burnout at Work, by Jill Suttie: A new book explains the root causes of burnout and why we won’t solve them without changing work culture.

“Tough compassion is gaining traction because the rose-quartz version is proving so unequal to the present moment, which has been defined by human failures to meet challenges posed by the pandemic, widespread inequality, and climate change.”
―Elizabeth Svoboda, What Does “Tough Compassion” Look Like in Real Life?

16. What Does “Tough Compassion” Look Like in Real Life?, by Elizabeth Svoboda: Tough compassion means speaking up, setting boundaries, and making uncomfortable choices for the greater good.

17. Ten More Films That Highlight the Best in Humanity, by Andrea Collier, Shanna B. Tiayon, Jill Suttie, Zaid Jilani, and Jeremy Adam Smith: It’s time for the Greater Goodies, honoring movies from one of the most difficult years in living memory.

18. If You Want to Be Happy, Try to Make Someone Else Happy, by Jill Suttie: A new study shows that doing kind things for others is an important path to happiness.

19. Ten TV Series That Can Help You Be Your Best Self, by Jeremy Adam Smith, Serena Maria Daniels, Jason Marsh, and Shanna B. Tiayon: Our contributors award “Greater Goodies” to the TV shows that have helped them to get through the pandemic.

20. How to Structure Your Day to Feel Less Stressed, by Christine Carter: If you don’t control your schedule, your schedule will control you.

Editors’ Picks

We polled our staff on their personal favorites from the past year—and came up with more you might also consider reading, listed by number of votes they received.

“There’s a pull to go back to 'normal,' high-speed living. And yet we’re still holding—somewhere inside—the stress and grief of this last year-plus. ”
―Kendra Wilde, Six Ways to Deal With Parental Burnout

1. How to Make Your Death Kinder to Those You Love, by Cianna Stewart: Losing loved ones inspired Cianna Stewart to get her own life in order, and to help others do the same—the ultimate act of kindness to those left behind.

2. What Does Intellectual Humility Look Like?, by Mark Leary: Research is uncovering the benefits of recognizing that you might be wrong, who tends to be more humble, and some hints about how to cultivate this skill.

3. What Is Helping Couples Get Through the Pandemic?, by Kira Newman: Research is uncovering how the pandemic affected our romantic relationships and tips for staying close and connected.

4. Six Ways to Deal With Parental Burnout, by Kendra Wilde: A year and a half into the pandemic, exhausted parents need healing. A mother explains how parents can move beyond burnout.

5. Six Reasons Why Humans Wear Masks, by Jeremy Adam Smith: Today, we wear masks to celebrate Halloween and ward off disease—but the mask has deep roots in human history. Here’s what masks mean to us.

“This has been a hard time. You are not weak. You are not a failure. You are a person who is suffering in response to terrible situations beyond your control—and the most important thing you need to know, I believe, is that you are not the only one who suffers.”
―Jeremy Adam Smith, Can We Recover from the Trauma of the Trump Years?

6. Four Ways New Moms Can Get Through the Rest of the Pandemic, by Mariah Flynn: Research says that the pandemic hurt the mental health of new parents—but there are ways to make things better.

7. Which Values Make You Happy? It Might Depend on Where You Live, by Kira Newman: Different cultures value different things—and that matters for happiness.

8. Six Tips for Socializing After You’ve Been Vaccinated, by Jeremy Adam Smith: As vaccinations rise and cases of COVID-19 fall, Americans are once again hanging out—and they’re feeling anxious about it.

9. What Can We Learn from the World’s Most Peaceful Societies?, by Robert T. Coleman and Douglas P. Fry: A multidisciplinary team of researchers is discovering what makes some societies more peaceful than others.

10. Can We Recover from the Trauma of the Trump Years?, by Jeremy Adam Smith: The past four years were marked by extremism, violence, and deception. Americans must find a way to live with those traumas—and with each other.

“It is vital to remember that peace exists today in pockets all around the globe, and that the more we study and learn from such societies, the higher our chances of building a global peace system for all. ”
―Robert T. Coleman and Douglas P. Fry, What Can We Learn from the World’s Most Peaceful Societies?
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