The History of New Year’s Resolutions

Today, resolving to change and improve yourself and your life is an almost unavoidable part of the transition to a new year. Though it’s a pretty well documented fact that most New Year’s resolutions fail, we keep making them. The custom of making New Year’s resolutions is most common in the West, but it happens all over the world. Here’s a look back at when and why the New Year’s resolution tradition got started, and how it’s changed over the course of history.

The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honor of the new year – though for them the year began not in January but in mid-March, when the crops were planted. During a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor.

A similar practice occurred in ancient Rome, after the reform-minded emperor Julius Caesar tinkered with the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the new year circa 46 B.C. Named for Janus, the two-faced god whose spirit inhabited doorways and arches, January had special significance for the Romans. Believing that Janus symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future, the Romans offered sacrifices to the deity and made promises of good conduct for the coming year.

For early Christians, the first day of the new year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future. In 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Also known as known as watch night services, they included readings from Scriptures and hymn singing and served as a spiritual alternative to the raucous celebrations normally held to celebrate the coming of the new year. Now popular within evangelical Protestant churches, especially African-American denominations and congregations, watch night services held on New Year’s Eve are often spent praying and making resolutions for the coming year.

Despite the tradition’s religious roots, New Year’s resolutions today are a mostly secular practice. Instead of making promises to the gods, most people make resolutions only to themselves, and focus purely on self-improvement. Recent research finds that while as many as 45 percent of Americans say they usually make New Year’s resolutions, only 8 percent are successful in achieving their goals. But that dismal record probably won’t stop people from making resolutions anytime soon – after all, we’ve had about 4,000 years of practice.

Peek at the Future of Hotels

Turn down service and the nightly chocolate on your pillow at hotel rooms across the globe may soon be a thing of the past.

Five-star hotels around the world have a variety of changes in store for 2018, according to Bloomberg, which recently gathered predictions for the coming year from a panel of industry experts.

Among the panel members who provided insights were executives from Marriott International Inc., Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. and Deloitte LLP’s travel, hospitality and services group. A professor from NYU’s Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism also weighed in on what can be expected next year.

Here are some of the top changes travelers will begin to see.

No More Turn Down Service – Cost savings and privacy are the driving force behind the movement to scale-back turn-down service in hotels. “We go through cycles when people are more private and more open, and right now people are feeling more private about their personal space. Some people don’t like their toiletries straightened up,” Bjorn Hanson, clinical professor at NYU’s Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism, told Bloomberg.

In-Room Technology Improvements – With technology being top of mind nearly everywhere these days, Marriott is experiment with an “Internet of Things” room that is being created with the help of Samsung and Legrand SA. The room includes showers that remember a guest’s preferred temperature, digital wall art that can be replaced with family photos and mirrors with embedded displays that can play such things as on-demand yoga videos, according to Bloomberg. These futuristic rooms are scheduled for a soft-launch in 2008, with the W hotels being the likely first place to offer them.

Hilton has also recently announced teched-out rooms. Their version includes a mobile app that controls the television, lighting, thermostat and digital art. “2018 is going to be the year that the rubber hits the road with technology,” Deloitte’s Marcello Gasdia told Bloomberg. “It took a while for this technology to mature, but now personalization can happen in real time.”

Front Desk Makeovers – It seems 2018 may be the year that luxury brands follow the hipster brands and do away with the traditional front desk completely. Hanson, from NYU, predicts the check-in desk will slowly fade into oblivion. The change is a reflection of traveler’s desire for intimacy rather than formality. The front desk space of year’s past will be replaced with living room-like check-in areas.

“Fifty years ago, people didn’t have credit cards and bad guys would come jump the desk and steal the cash,” said Hanson. “But that’s not the case anymore, and hotels no longer need that type of tall, wide barrier.”

An Emphasis on Wellness – Wellness is where it’s at, and hotels are increasingly realizing that fact. “Wellness is going to be the next trillion-dollar industry,” Guy Langford, also of Deloitte, told Bloomberg. “Everyone wants to capitalize on the huge swell, but every brand is making a different play. Nobody has figured it out yet.” Examples of hotels incorporating wellness offerings include JW Marriott partnering with the Joffrey Ballet for on-demand barre classes and Four Seasons developing wellness rooms with de-chlorinating showers and Deepak Chopra meditation videos.

Going, Going, Maybe Obsolete by 2020

Devices that have only one use like calculators, alarm clocks and digital cameras are being replaced by smartphones. Phone chargers and headphones with cords are also fading out in favor of wireless models.
Paper is going digital, from magazines to maps to regular paperwork.

Technology develops at a staggeringly quick pace in today’s world – even watching movies from a few years ago can provide opportunities to snicker at characters’ outdated cell phones.

Here are some things that will probably be obsolete by 2020:

Alarm clocks – Most phones have an alarm clock, stopwatch and timer built in, too.

Analog watches – Smart watches may not be ready to overtake smartphones yet, but it’s looking like they’re going to replace analog watches.

Buttons on phones – The iPhone X, released on November 3, 2017, was the first iPhone to ditch the home button, and some Android models have already gotten rid of them.

Calculators – Most phones have a calculator built in, reducing the need for this clunky device that only does one job.

Car keys – BMW already has an app that allows car owners to unlock their doors without using a key, and they announced in September that they’re considering completely replacing car keys with mobile phone apps.

CDs – People rarely buy music anymore, much less in any physical form. Streaming services are the way of the future.

Charger cables – Chargers are also going wireless with charging pads entering the scene.

Checkbooks – With innovations like online banking and Apple Pay, writing out checks is already a chore. The future of finances is definitely digital.

Delivery workers – In 2016, the White House predicted that nearly 3.1 million drivers in the workforce could have their jobs automated. Already, Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery service is bringing packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.

Digital cameras – Now that phone cameras can shoot pictures and video in HD (there are even iPhone photography awards), clunky digital cameras will fade out of style.

DVD and Blu-ray players – Movie streaming services like Netflix are turning DVD and Blu-ray players into dust-collecting devices.

Fax machines – Let’s face it – fax machines should have disappeared long ago. Once paperwork goes, these dinosaurs are going, too.

Getting bills in the mail – Getting bills in the mail is already becoming a thing of the past with online payment methods and apps. Soon, you’ll be able to pay all of your bills through a few clicks on a computer or taps on your phone.

Hard drives – Soon, everyone will keep their information in “the cloud” and there will be no need for physical storage devices.

Headphones with cords – From Apple’s AirPods to Bluetooth headphones, the headphone jack’s days are numbered.

Landlines – 2016 was the first year that a majority of American homes did not have a landline, according to the Center for Disease Control, and more than 70% of all adults aged 25-34 were living in wireless-only households. Home phone numbers are on their way out.

Newspapers – Print newspapers will likely meet the same fate as magazines.

Paper maps – With step-by-step directions on Google Maps, paper maps are hardly necessary anymore.

Paper receipts – CVS receipts are so long they’ve become a meme. But even they have begun offering digital receipts. Many vendors already send receipts via email, so it won’t be long until it’s the new standard.

Paperwork – With Google Docs and digital signatures becoming the norm, contracts, medical forms and other documents will cease to exist in paper form.

Parking meters – Parking meters are being turned into art since paying for parking can be done via app in many places.

Passwords – Apple debuted FaceID this year, while Microsoft’s Windows Hello facial recognition system has been in place since 2015. Forget letters, numbers, and special characters – biometric passwords will be the norm.

Pay phones – AT&T announced that it was leaving the pay phone market back in 2007. Everyone has cell phones these days anyhow.

Reference books – With the internet at our fingertips at all times, dictionaries and encyclopedias are no longer necessary.

Remote controls – You won’t have to search for the remote or replace its batteries when voice commands and smartphone controls become widespread ways to operate your devices.

Standalone GPS devices – Same goes for GPS devices. Your phone can perform all the same functions, plus text someone that you’ve arrived.

Textbooks – Paper textbooks are expensive and heavy, not to mention they often become obsolete after a few years when new discoveries require updated editions. According to Scholastic, higher education has already begun to pivot to e-textbooks.

Thumb drives – Thumb drives may be a convenient way to carry data around in your pocket, but thanks to cloud computing you won’t have to carry anything at all.

Travel agencies – There were 124,000 full-time travel agents in the US in 2000. In 2014, that number went down to 74,000. While a human touch definitely makes booking travel less of a headache, the convenience of the internet is narrowing the field.

Words of Wisdom, Source Unknown

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, died a billionaire at the age of 56 in 2011. Four years later, the essay below began circulating on the internet with the claim that it represented Jobs’ deathbed speech.

There is no verification that Jobs ever spoke or wrote the words in this essay. In fact his sister says his final words were “Oh Wow, Oh Wow, Oh Wow.”

But whoever did pen the essay below, gave all of us plenty of food for thought.

Here’s the essay:

I reached the pinnacle of success in the business world. In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success.

However, aside from work, I have little joy. In the end, wealth is only a fact of life that I am accustomed to.

At this moment, lying on the sick bed and recalling my whole life, I realize that all the recognition and wealth that I took so much pride in, have paled and become meaningless in the face of impending death.

In the darkness, I look at the green lights from the life supporting machines and hear the humming mechanical sounds, I can feel the breath of god of death drawing closer.

Now I know, when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth.

Should be something that is more important. – Perhaps relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days

Non-stop pursuing of wealth will only turn a person into a twisted being, just like me.

God gave us the senses to let us feel the love in everyone’s heart, not the illusions brought about by wealth.

The wealth I have won in my life I cannot bring with me. What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love.

That’s the true riches which will follow you, accompany you, giving you strength and light to go on.

Love can travel a thousand miles. Life has no limit. Go where you want to go. Reach the height you want to reach. It is all in your heart and in your hands.

What is the most expensive bed in the world? – Sick bed.

You can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you but you cannot have someone to bear the sickness for you.

Material things lost can be found. But there is one thing that can never be found when it is lost — Life.

When a person goes into the operating room, he will realize that there is one book that he has yet to finish reading — Book of Healthy Life.

Whichever stage in life we are at right now, with time, we will face the day when the curtain comes down.

Treasure love for your family, love for your spouse, love for your friends.

Treat yourself well. Cherish others.

Price of ’12 Days of Christmas’ Gifts

Have an extra $35,000 or so sitting around? Terrific! You have enough to purchase each of the whimsical items in the “12 Days of Christmas” song.

PNC Financial Services Group has done the research for the 34th year to provide a rundown of the cost of all 12 days of gifts. The bottom line, you can buy them all in stores for $34,558.65 (US dollars) or online for $45,096. Online costs more largely due to travel and shipping costs. This covers the cost of buying each gift once. However, if you include the cost of all the repetition throughout the carol, it would cost $157,558 in-store or $204,848.65 online.

To put that in perspective, “The PNC Christmas Price Index predicts true loves will be on their merry way to a more robust and satisfying holiday shopping season this year,” PNC said in a news release.
The slight increase of .6 percent from last year was mostly due to higher prices for the pear tree, increased demand for golden rings and wage increases for the Lords-a-Leaping.

Here’s the breakdown of each item:
DAY 1. A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE: In-store price: $219.95, online price: $269.00.
DAY 2. TWO TURTLE DOVES: In-store price: $20.00, online price: $ 95.00.
DAY 3. THREE FRENCH HENS: In-store price: $181.50, online price: $281.50.
DAY 4. FOUR CALLING BIRDS: In-store price: $599.96, online price: $370.00.
DAY 5: FIVE GOLD RINGS: In-store price: $825.00, online price: $899.75.
DAY 6: SIX GEESE-A-LAYING: In-store price: $360.00, online price: $1,488.00.
DAY 7: SEVEN SWANS-A-SWIMMING: In-store price: $ 13,125.00, online price: $ 15,165.00.
DAY 8: EIGHT MAIDS-A-MILKING: In-store price: $58.00, online price: $377.28.
DAY 9: NINE LADIES DANCING: In-store price: $7,552.84, online price: $8,322.55.
DAY 10: TEN LORDS-A-LEAPING: In-store price: $5,618.90, online price: $13,373.35.
DAY 11: ELEVEN PIPERS PIPING: In-store price: $2,708.40, online price: $2,475.00.
DAY 12: TWELVE DRUMMERS DRUMMING: In-store price: $2,934.10, online price: $1,620.00.

For Some, It’s SAD Season

Some folks are deeply affected by the change in seasons. Enough that they may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD is a type of depression that begins and ends about the same time every year, with symptoms often starting in the fall and continuing into the winter months. Tjhe disorder saps your energy and makes you feel moody. Sometimes, though less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.

Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), medications and psychotherapy. In addition to professional medical treatment, there are lifestyle and home remedies that may help. Make your environment sunnier and brighter. Open the blinds, trim tree branches that block sunlight or add skylights to your home. Sit closer to bright windows while at home or in the office. Get outdoors. Take long walks, eat lunch at a nearby park or simply sit on a bench and soak up the sun. Even on cold or cloudy days, outdoor light can help – especially if you spend some time outside within two hours of getting up in the morning.
Exercise regularly. Exercise and other types of physical activity help relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can increase SAD symptoms. Being more fit can make you feel better about yourself, too, which can lift your mood.

Signs and symptoms of SAD may include feeling depressed most of the day, losing interest in activities you once enjoyed, having low energy, having problems with sleeping and experiencing changes in your appetite or weight. You also might feel sluggish or agitated, have difficulty concentrating, think frequently of death or suicide or feel hopeless, worthless or guilty.

It’s normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed, you turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation, or you feel hopeless or think about suicide.