New Year Special * The 8 Biggest Happiness Findings of 2017 * Here's How 10 New Year's Eve Traditions Got Started * New Year Quotes, Humour, Music

Happy New Year!

Enjoy! Utopian health, happiness and well being to one and all!

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The 8 Biggest Happiness Findings of 2017

By Rachael Rettner, Senior Writer | December 29, 2017 07:00am ET
Courtesy of: https://www.livescience.com/61265-boost-happiness-lower-stress-2017.html?utm_source=notification

Don't Worry, Be Happy

There's no single formula for happiness. But scientists continue to investigate aspects of our lives that may affect our well-being, including social media use, exercise and even our posture.

Here are eight interesting things we learned in 2017 about the factors that may influence happiness and lower your odds of stress and depression.

1. How Sharing Can Make Kids Happy

For young children, sharing can bring happiness, but only if they do it voluntarily, a study from China suggests.

The study looked at groups of 3- and 5-year-olds who were either pressured to share objects — in this case, stickers — or were given the opportunity to share voluntarily.

The researchers found, judging by facial expressions, that the kids were happier when they shared voluntarily, compared with when they kept the stickers for themselves. In contrast, the kids did not experience the same happiness boost when they were pressured to share.

The study suggested that children can experience a positive mood when they share voluntarily, which may lead to further sharing, the researchers said.

2. Meditation Could Lower The Body's Stress Signals

Practicing meditation could help your body handle stress better.

In one study, people with anxiety disorder who took a course in mindfulness meditation showed reduced levels of stress hormones and markers of inflammation during a stressful event, compared with how their bodies reacted before taking the meditation course. In contrast, participants who did not learn mindfulness meditation, but instead took a course in stress management, did not show similar reductions in the same measures during a stressful event.

Mindfulness meditation helps people learn to focus on the present moment, and accept difficult thoughts or feelings.

The study findings suggest that mindfulness meditation "may be a helpful strategy to decrease biological stress reactivity" in people with anxiety disorder, the researchers wrote in their study, which was published Jan. 24 in the journal Psychiatry Research.

3. Exercise May Boost Your Mood

Even a little exercise may help combat symptoms of depression..

The study analyzed information from nearly 34,000 Norwegian adults, who were asked about their level of exercise as well as their symptoms of depression, and were followed for 11 years.

The study found that people who said that they never exercised at all at the beginning of the study were 44 percent more likely to develop depression, compared with those who said they exercised 1 to 2 hours per week.

The researchers estimated that, if all participants had exercised for at least 1 hour a week, 12 percent of cases of depression could have been prevented.

The researchers conclude that modest changes in a population's level of exercise could have substantial mental health benefits.

The study was published Oct. 3 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

4. Hawaii Is The Happiest State … Again

Could moving to Hawaii make you happier? Residents of the Aloha State certainly seem to know a thing or two about happiness — Hawaii frequently tops the list of happiest U.S. states in an annual poll.

Residents of Hawaii scored highest on Gallup-Healthways' annual survey of well-being in 2016, with a score of 65.2 out of 100. The results for the 2016 survey were released in February 2017. These results marked the sixth time that Hawaii has come out on top in the poll since Gallup-Healthways began conducting it in 2008.

The rankings are based on interviews with more than 177,000 U.S. adults in all 50 states. The researchers calculated a well-being score for each state, based on participants' answers to questions about different aspects of well-being, including their sense of purpose, social relationships, financial lives, community involvement and physical health.

5. Swipe Right? Tinder Could Hurt Self-esteem

Online dating apps aim to boost your love life, but the process may take a toll on your mental health, early research suggests.

In a recent study, researchers analyzed information from more than 800 college-age students who either used the online dating app Tinder.

The study found that Tinder users were more likely than nonusers to report negative feelings, such as feeling pressure to look a certain way, or experiencing negative moods.

Still, this doesn't mean you have to get off Tinder. To curb possible negative effects from online dating, the researchers recommend that people do not use Tinder as a means of self-validation — in other words, you shouldn't judge yourself by the number of matches you get. Users should also keep in mind that the photos they see of others are often selected to show a person at their very best, rather than in their day-to-day life.

The study was presented Aug. 3 at the American Psychological Association's annual meeting.

6. Tip For A Better Mood: Sit Up Straight

Simply sitting up straight may improve your mood, at least over the short term, a preliminary study from New Zealand suggests.

The study involved 61 people whose scores on a survey indicated that they had mild to moderate symptoms of depression. About half of the participants received instructions on how to adopt a good posture (sitting up straight), and the researchers also applied sports tape to the participants' backs in a manner that's been shown to improve posture. The other half of the participants were not given any instructions about posture, and had a few pieces of tape applied to their backs in a random manner.

The participants were then asked to fill out a survey about their mood. The results showed that people in the upright-posture group reported feeling more enthusiastic, more excited and stronger and less fatigued than the people in the regular-posture group.

Future work is needed to investigate the long-term effects of posture changes on mood, and whether adopting an upright posture could actually aid in treating depression, the researchers said.

The study was published in the March 2017 issue of the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.

7. Sleep Troubles May Affect Depression Risk

Trouble sleeping is often thought of as a symptom of other mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. But recent research suggests that lack of sleep itself may actually contribute to these mental health conditions. What's more, the findings suggest that improving sleep could aid in easing depression and anxiety.

The study involved more than 3,700 college students in the United Kingdom who had insomnia. Participants answered questions about their sleep and other mental health conditions at the beginning of the study and after a 10-week treatment for insomnia called cognitive behavioral therapy.

The study found that those who received the insomnia treatment had decreased levels of depression and anxiety, and improved psychological well-being, compared with those who didn't receive the treatment.

"For many people, insomnia can be part of the complex package of causes of mental health difficulties," the researchers said. The findings suggest that doctors who treat mental health conditions should give a higher priority to treating sleep difficulties than they currently do, the researchers said.

The study was published Sept. 6 in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry.

8. Too Much Facebook May Harm Mental Health

Many people jokingly lament that they spend "too much time on Facebook." But could overdoing it on the "likes" actually harm your mental and physical health?

A recent study suggests it might. The study, which analyzed Facebook data from more than 5,200 people, found that more activity on Facebook was linked with reduced well-being. For example, people who reported "liking" a lot of things on Facebook, or who updated their status more often, tended to report having worse mental health, than those who liked fewer things on Facebook or updated their status less often.

Although it's possible that people with worse mental health may seek solace in Facebook, the results held even after the researchers took into account people's reports of mental health at the beginning of the study, and their number of "real-world" friendships.

The findings suggest that, in some cases, Facebook use may be contributing to reduced well-being. Individual social media users might do well to curtail their use of social media and focus instead on real-world relationships," the researchers concluded.

Still, not all studies have found detriments to Facebook use, so some experts recommend that, until further research is conducted, people use social media sites in moderation.

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Here's How 10 New Year's Eve Traditions Got Started

By Tia Ghose, Associate Editor | December 30, 2017 03:30am ET
Courtesy of and thanks again to: https://www.livescience.com/57344-the-origin-of-7-new-years-traditions-revealed.html?utm_source=notification

Introduction

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on Dec. 30, 2017
Whether you’re celebrating in New York City or Nashville, Tennessee, New Year’s Eve follows a pretty similar script: People dress up in their best duds, break out the bubbly and sing "Auld Lang Syne" at the stroke of midnight. If it’s a particularly rowdy party, some things may explode.

But how exactly did these traditions arise?

Many of these rituals have ancient roots and are similar around the world. It turns out that many are designed to ward off evil spirits as we enter the darkest time of the year, said Anthony Aveni, an astronomer and anthropologist at Colgate University in New York, and the author of "The Book of the Year: A Brief History of Our Seasonal Holidays," (Oxford University Press, 2004).

"This is a transitional period," Aveni told Live Science. "I’m looking at my window at all the snow. The worst of it is just beginning because it’s winter. The sun goes away, and when the sun goes away we have to get it back; we have all these rituals designed to get the sun back."

From popping open a bottle of champagne to watching the ball drop in Times Square, here are the roots of 10 New Year’s Eve traditions.

1. Smooch Your Sweetie

Puckering up at the stroke of midnight is a venerable tradition with ancient roots. Many cultures considered the transition from the warm to the cold seasons to be an intensely vulnerable time, when evil spirits could run amok, Aveni said.

Many of our traditions, including kissing, originally come from the English tradition of "saining," or offering blessing or protection, during the period of Yuletide, Aveni said. (Yuletide was originally a pre-Christian Germanic festival that eventually became synonymous with Christmastide in Europe.)

Kissing, in this context, was thought to bring good luck as people entered the vulnerable, transitional period of the new year, Aveni said.

"You want to be closest to those who support you," Aveni told Live Science.

2. Bubbly Luxury

Popping champagne corks at the stroke of midnight is a mainstay on New Year’s Eve, whether at swanky parties or home celebrations. In general, overindulgence and excess are hallmarks of New Year’s celebrations around the world, Aveni said.

But when exactly did the peach-colored, bubbly beverage become synonymous with New Year’s Eve?

Despite its French name, champagne’s signature fizz traces its origins back to England in the 1500s, according to "Wine Science: Principles and Applications" (Academic Press, 2008), Live Science previously reported. [Champagne Facts for the New Year (Infographic)]

At that point, people figured out how to create bubbly bottled drinks. In 1662, Christopher Merret reported to the Royal Society of London that adding sugar to bottled wine created a fizzy beverage, thanks to the yeast in the wine, which consumed the sugar to produce carbon dioxide. It took about a century to perfect the fermentation technique, however, according to Imbibe Magazine.

The use of champagne for celebrations has its roots in the Christian ritual of consuming wine during the Eucharist as the blood of Christ. In A.D. 496, a wine from the Champagne region of France was used in the baptism of the Frankish warrior Clovis, according to champagne.fr, a website run by the Champagne Committee of France. From then on, wines from the Champagne region were often used at such religious events as consecrations, and at coronations and soirees, according to the website.

"After the French Revolution, it became a part of the secular rituals that replaced formerly religious rituals," Kolleen Guy, associate professor of history at the University of Texas at San Antonio and author of "When Champagne Became French" (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), previously told Live Science. "You could 'christen a ship' without a priest, for example, by using the 'holy water' of champagne," Guy said.

By 1789, the French had taken the two elements — the bubbles and their prized Champagne-region wine — and put the two together for royal parties and celebrations. Champagne, however, didn’t become the ultimate New Year’s celebration beverage until producers of champagne tried to link the bubbly to festive occasions with family, and the rise of the middle class increased the purchasing power of ordinary people, according to Imbibe Magazine.

3. "Auld Lang Syne"

Another classic tradition is to sing "Auld Lang Syne," a Scottish poem that was recorded on paper officially in 1788 by the Scottish poet Robert Burns, according to Scotland.org. The melody itself, however, is a much older folk song that was known in Scotland, and the Scottish Museum set Burns’ words to the tune when he sent it in, according to the English Folk Dance and Song Society.

"There is an old song and tune which has often thrilled through my soul," Burns said in reference to the popular melody in his 1788 letter, according to the Burns encyclopedia.

Burns admitted to drawing inspiration for "Auld Lang Syne" from an old man he heard singing the song, and other variants of the song had appeared earlier in the 1700s.

In English, the literal translation of Auld Lang Syne is "old long times," but it means something more along the lines of "once upon a time." With its touch of nostalgia, it soon became a mainstay at British and Scottish funerals, farewells and group celebrations. It didn’t make it across the pond as a New Year's tradition until 1929, however, when the Guy Lombardo orchestra played it at a hotel in New York, Live Science previously reported.

4. Dropping The Ball

At the stroke of midnight, revelers in Times Square will watch the giant ball drop in New York City. But where exactly did this tradition come from? In the old days, sailors used "time balls" to set their own timepieces while at sea. They would set these chronometers by using a spyglass to scan the harbor, looking for balls that were dropped into the water at certain times, PBS.org reported. The first time ball, which was installed in Portsmouth, England, made its first drop in 1829, and by 1845, Washington, D.C., had one installed as well, according to PBS.org.

By 1904, a big ball was present when revelers began partying in Times Square. But the first version of the ball — a wooden and iron orb that was adorned with 100 25-watt lightbulbs — dropped in 1907, according to the Times Square Alliance. That year, The New York Times publisher Adolph Ochs was hoping to find a replacement for the fireworks that had been banned by the police. (Hot ashes from the fireworks fell into the streets after the fireworks were deployed the year prior, according to PBS.org.) Ochs asked his chief electrician to conceive of an equally sparkly alternative — and the time ball was born.

Since the first ball drop, there have been seven balls, according to the Times Square Alliance. The current ball weighs 6 tons (5.4 metric tons), is 12 feet (3.65 meters) in diameter and gets its bling from 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles and 32,256 LED lights, according to the alliance.

Balls aren’t the only things that drop on New Year’s Eve. In Port Clinton, Ohio, residents watch a 600-lb. walleye fish replica fall, while Boise, Idaho, famous for its potatoes, drops a glowing "GlowTato," WNYC reported.

5. New Year's Resolution

Messing up and promising to do better next time may be a uniquely human instinct that has no season, but making New Year’s resolutions dates back at least to the time of the ancient Mesopotamians. In Ancient Babylonia, citizens made spoken resolutions in March, during their 12-day-long New Year Festival, called Akitu, Live Science previously reported. The resolutions were not undertaken for mere self-improvement: They required making an oath to the sitting (or new) king, and were considered essential to keep the kingdom in the gods’ favor.

The Romans also had a tradition of swearing an oath of loyalty to the emperor in March, when their New Year started. Although this Roman tradition didn’t directly translate to New Year’s resolutions, by the 1740s, the Methodist church had a practice of holding renewal services on Dec. 31. The services offer people a chance to look back at the year that passed and renew their commitment to God, Live Science reported.

In general, the act of making resolutions becomes the necessary, purifying ritual that follows the overindulgence of the new year, Aveni said. On Dec. 31, everybody is going to eat and drink to excess, "and then the next day you’ll wake up and hopefully you’ll have your resolutions to do the next year better."

6. Letting Sparks Fly

Do people ever need an excuse to make things go boom?

From China to Australia, people ring in the new year with noisemakers, sparklers and fireworks. But how did the tradition of ringing in the new year with a flash of light and a bang start?

It all comes back to the danger lurking in this transitional period, Aveni said.

In cultures around the world, people bang drums, light firecrackers and even beat the corners of their room to spook the spooky creatures lurking in the night.

"Anything to chase away the evil spirits," Aveni said.

Fireworks, for instance, were invented in the seventh century A.D. in China, and one of the express purposes of fireworks was to ward off evil spirits. From the beginning, the Chinese New Year was a reliable time to see the sparkling displays. Yet the tradition of setting off fireworks in the Western world seems to have evolved independently, Aveni said.

7. Superstitions Abound

New Year's traditions around the world often come with a heavy dose of superstition.
For instance, in Brazil some avoid eating chicken in the first few minutes of the new year.

Why? Because chickens scratch the Earth backwards, consuming poultry would mean going backwards in life, rather than forward, the Rio Times reported. To avoid that fate, people eat foods that move forward, such as fish and pork. Italians, meanwhile, are supposed to reserve some of their wine grapes from the harvest to consume on New Year's Eve, which will mean they'll be frugal and financially savvy, according to Italy Magazine.

But why is the New Year so steeped in superstitious rituals? It turns out that rituals act as a buffer against anxiety and uncertainty, and what could be more uncertain than the future year, with all the events yet to come? New Year's and other holiday rituals ease that anxiety by making the world seem more predictable, according to Dimitris Xygalatas, Assistant Professor in Anthropology at the University of Connecticut

8. Scary Start

While most New Year's traditions are cheerful affairs, others are downright frightening.

In the Japanese village of Oga, on New Year's Eve men dress in grass masks and embody the Namahage, demonic figures who go door to door searching for new members of the community. After screaming at the children and new family members to be obedient, and to study and work hard, the more established members defend the newcomers and youngsters to the demon, who leaves the house, according to the Namahage Museum.

Meanwhile in Peru, an Andean "fight club" on Christmas Day allows people to kick and punch each other to resolve differences, so they can start the New Year with a clean slate — and some black eyes, according to " A Christmas Cornucopia: The Hidden Stories Behind Our Yuletide Traditions," (Penguin, 2016).

9. Money, Money, Money

Whether it's eating pork or leftover grapes, or hopping on one foot — a huge number of New Year's traditions are all about the Benjamins — or Lira or Euros. Prosperity looms large in the roots of many New Year's traditions.

The Turks, for instance, wear red underwear, run the faucet and sprinkle salt on their doorsteps to ensure prosperity, according to the Daily Sabah, while the Swiss will drop rich dollops of whipped cream to the floor and leave them there to usher in riches, according to the Farmer's Almanac. Filipinos, meanwhile, will wear polka dots, because the rotund shape of the circles symbolizes prosperity.

People in the south, meanwhile, eat black eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread because they resemble coins, dollar bills and shiny gold, respectively.

10. Traditions Around The World

While there are some commonalities across the world, almost every culture has its unique take on the new year.

For instance, in Mexico, people may eat one grape for every chime of the church bells at midnight, Aveni said.

Aztecs used to burn all of their mats during the new year, as fire was considered cleansing. They would then take the clean, new fire to their homes to light their hearths, Aveni said.

The English have a tradition of leaving money out on their porch to be purified, taking the cleaned, new money into their house on the new year.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, the tradition of the "first footing" says that, for good luck, the first person to set foot in the house after the stroke of midnight should be a tall, dark male bearing a lump of coal, shortbread, salt, a black bun and a "wee dram" of whisky, according to the History and Heritage Accommodation Guide of the UK.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on Dec. 29, 2016 and was updated on Dec. 30, 2017 to include additional information on New Year's traditions in other countries.

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New Year Quotes:
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/melody_beattie_676229?src=t_newyears

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.
Melody Beattie

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're doing something.
Neil Gaiman

If you asked me for my New Year Resolution, it would be to find out who I am.
Cyril Cusack

Only dreams give birth to change.
Sarah Ban Breathnach

To have the kind of year you want to have, something has to happen that you can't explain why it happened. Something has to happen that you can't coach.
Bobby Bowden

Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Alfred Lord Tennyson

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New Year Humour:

Posts are OK for kids as per parental discraetion.

Kid President AWESOME YEAR Challenge!

SoulPancake
Published on Jan 3, 2013

Category: Entertainment
License: Standard YouTube License

10 New Year's Resolutions As Told by Cats So Funny

Guy Hughes
Published on Jan 2, 2014

Category: People & Blogs
License: Standard YouTube License

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Honest New Year's

CollegeHumor
Published on Dec 29, 2016

It's almost as if New Year's Eve consistently fails to live up to our collective expectations.

Category: Comedy
License: Standard YouTube License

My New Year’s Resolution is to Get My "D" Out of this Toaster (Hardly Working)

CAUTION: "D" word in use! Yes, the four letter "D" word! No, not door.

CollegeHumor
Published on Jan 1, 2015

This year, I'm FINALLY going to do it.

Category: Comedy
License: Standard YouTube License

Jingle "B"'S (Merry Christmas Happy New Year Message) VERY, VERY FUNNY!

CAUTION: "B"'s being played! Well, yes, it's bells, sort of...

Glenn Jackson
Published on Dec 14, 2014

A fun way to have your Jingle "B"'s rung!

Category: Film & Animation
License: Standard YouTube License

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New Year Dance Music:

This is but one selection of many available. Enjoy and/or explore options!

New Year Mix 2018 / Best Trap / Bass / EDM Music Mashup & Remixes

Magic Music
Published on Dec 29, 2017

New Year Mix 2018 / Best Trap / Bass / EDM Music Mashup & Remixes

Category: Music
License: Standard YouTube License

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So, what will UFF say and do about the four letter "C" word in 2018?

Stay tuned.

BTW: The 4 letter "C" word in question is CARE.

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DISCLAIMER: UFF does not own any of the above works, nor do we claim responsibility or ownership for any images or audio tracks shown in these and other videos UFF has posted. All rights go to their respective owners.

UFF TRANSPARENCY:

UFF Commentary Notes are the sole responsibility of the President of UFF.

See post of November 29, 2017 for full transparency details.

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