31 Days of Happiness Countdown: This cooking show in space is just so delicious. (Day 17)

Thanks for stopping by for Day 17 of Upworthy's 31 Days of Happiness Countdown! If this is your first visit, here's the gist: Each day between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31, we're sharing stories we hope will bring joy, smiles, and laughter into our lives and yours. It's been a challenging year for a lot of us, so why not end it on a high note with a bit of happiness? Check back tomorrow (or click the links at the bottom) for another installment!

GIF via "Parks & Recreation."


I'm pretty sure the only thing that kept me from being an astronaut is the face-melting liftoff ... well that, and the decades of advanced math and science. But mostly the liftoff. I get nauseous on carnival rides, so exploring the final frontier just wasn't in the cards for me.

However, I am kind of obsessed with the astronauts who live and work in space. You know, the folks living in the space station, speaking to school children on Skype while their hair stands on end, and doing somersaults and experiments all the time. That's the kind of anti-gravitational fun I live for.

GIF via NASA.

So when I found European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti's videos, my mind basically exploded.

While living on board the International Space Station, Cristoforetti made cooking videos. Yes, cooking videos! THIS IS TASTY IN SPACE, Y'ALL!

Generally, the meals in the final frontier are pretty standard, but every astronaut gets "bonus food" that reminds them of the flavors of home. In this video, Cristoforetti takes us lowly Earth-dwellers through the process of making turmeric chicken and whole red rice with mushrooms and peas. Forget outer space, Cristoforetti is living in flavor country.

I don't want to spoil the whole thing, but here are some highlights.

First, Cristoforetti doesn't use plates because that would be pointless. Instead, she plates her meal on a tortilla. This is a tip I will incorporate into my own life.

GIFs via ESA/YouTube.

To get the food to stick to the tortilla, she uses smashed pea cream as an adhesive. This is a tip I will not incorporate into my own life.

Also as she cooks, her dinner just keeps floating away which is hilarious the first time, and even better as she adds more food to the tortilla. #spaceprobz

You can (and totally should) watch Cristoforetti make a mean dinner below. It's got everything: space travel, mushrooms, floating tortillas. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT, PEOPLE?

(Plus, it's probably the most delightful meal you'll see all day, unless you know an otter eating Christmas cookies.)

Oh, and if you're as hungry as I am, here's a walk-thru on how to make Cristoforetti's exact meal — weightlessness on the side. Bon appétit, space nerds!

More days of happiness here: DAY 1 / DAY 2 / DAY 3 / DAY 4 / DAY 5 / DAY 6 / DAY 7 / DAY 8 / DAY 9 / DAY 10 / DAY 11 / DAY 12 / DAY 13 / DAY 14 / DAY 15 / DAY 16 / [DAY 17] / DAY 18 / DAY 19 / DAY 20 / DAY 21 / DAY 22 / DAY 23 / DAY 24 / DAY 25 / DAY 26 / DAY 27 / DAY 28 / DAY 29 / DAY 30 / DAY 31
Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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