12-31 to 1-4-19 Bill Meyer Show Blog

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HAPPY NEW YEAR (Hugh Hewitt fills in for me 1/1/19)

12-31-18 Bill Meyer Show Guests

6:35 Rick Manning, President of Americans for Limited Government, Year end Swamp and DC update from DailyTorch.com

7:10 Water World Boat and Power Sport Outdoor Report with Greg Roberts from Rogue Weather dot com

8:10 Dr. Dennis Powers, “What Made Southern Oregon Great”, Dennis is a local historian and author of “Where Past Meets Present” more info at DennisPowersBooks.com, and available on HellgatePress.com

New Year’s Resolutions–for 2019

By Dennis Powers

New Year’s resolutions are about self-improvement. These are promises made to start doing something good or not do something bad–starting on New Year’s Day. It can be to improve yourself physically, whether losing weight, drinking less booze, quitting smoking, or exercising more. Thinking positive, enjoying life more, or reducing stress is more mind-oriented. Resolutions can be activities: taking an overseas trip, reading more books, or even changing jobs. They can be to make new friends, discard negative ones, spend more time with family, or spend less.

Yes, New Year’s resolutions are about hopefulness. And it’s been that way since recorded times. The celebration of a new year is the oldest of holidays and dates back to ancient Babylon some 4000 years ago. Around 2000 BC, Babylonians celebrated the beginning of their new year on what is now March 23, although they didn’t have a written calendar. Late March was a logical choice, as this was when spring began and crops were planted. Their celebration lasted for 11 days, and the Babylonians made promises to their gods to return borrowed objects and pay back debts.

The Romans continued observing the New Year on March 25th, but later emperors changed the calendar so many times that it was not in sync with the sun. To set the calendar right, the Roman senate in 153 BC declared January 1rst to be the beginning of the New Year. It placed their mythical king of early Rome, Janus, at the head of the calendar.

The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and guardian of entrances. Always shown with two faces–one on the front of his head and a second at the back–Janus at the same time could look backwards and forwards. At midnight on December 31rst, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new. He was the ancient symbol for resolutions, as Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies.

Different emperors again changed the dates. Finally, in 46 BC Julius Caesar decreed what is known as the Julian calendar. He re-established January 1rst as the start of the New Year. To synchronize the calendar with the sun, however, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days. The Romans started a tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year’s Eve by giving one another branches from sacred trees for good fortune. Later, nuts or coins imprinted with the god Janus became more common gifts.

In Medieval days, the knights took a “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry; they were required to place their hands on a peacock and vow to always live up to this pledge. Over centuries, the practice of resolutions and commitment on this eve continued, and it’s interesting to see what has happened in more modern times. At the end of the Great Depression, about 1/4th of adults formed New Year’s resolutions. By 2018, some 2/3rds did.

Their nature has also changed to reflect the times. At the end of the 19th century, a typical teenage girl’s resolution was on “good approaches”: She resolved to be less self-centered, more helpful, a more diligent worker, and improve her character. Body image, health, diet, and getting new “things” were rarely mentioned. By the end of the 20th century, the typical teenage girl was focused on good looks: to improve her body, hairstyle, makeup, and attractive clothing.

Conducted for 2018, Statista came up with these: make more money (53%); lose weight or get in shape (45%); have more sex (25%); travel more (24%); read more books (23%); learn a new skill or hobby (22%); buy a house (21%); quit smoking (16%); and find love (15%).

According to a recent YouGov poll, the most common U.S aspirations for the coming year are to eat healthier, get more exercise, and to save more money. Almost one third, perhaps more realistically, said that they wouldn’t be bothering with making resolutions.

As to success rates, a study of 3,000 people indicated that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when setting small quantitative goals (i.e., losing one pound a week, instead of promising “to lose weight”), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public with support from friends.

Setting a specific goal can be a winner. Monitoring progress, not being too ambitious, recording what you do, and giving time for success are important. Overcoming bad habits, such as drinking too much alcohol, smoking, or overeating, can be tough ones to beat because they’re so easy to return to when stressed out–especially during the New Year. And this can start with your celebrations.

So let’s start talking about what our New Year’s resolution will, or will not, be–and should we make them this year?

Sources: “Wikipedia: New Year’s Resolution,” at New Year’s Resolutions; Dove, Laurie L., “Why do people make New Year’s resolutions?”; “How Stuff Works?” at Why Make Them?; Blair, Gary R., “The History of New Year’s Resolutions, at EzineArticles.com: More on Resolutions; Statista, “What are your 2018 Resolutions?” at Survey for 2018; Statista, “YouGov Poll” at YouGov Poll.