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Seligman, Martin E. P.; Authentic Happiness, 2003.

As a leading expert in “Positive Psychology,” Seligman has demonstrated that happiness can be cultivated by nurturing traits we already possess, like kindness, humor and optimism. By methodically calling on these positive traits, he says, we can mitigate the effects of misfortune and bring positive energy to the crucial realms of life, like our heath, relationships and careers.

According to Seligman, insufficient appreciation of the good events in your past and overemphasis on the bad ones are the two culprits that undermine serenity, and satisfaction. Gratitude and forgiveness are the two most direct paths to managing negative feelings about the past and achieving contentment.

He writes that “gratitude amplifies the savoring and appreciation of the good events gone by, and rewriting history by forgiveness loosens the power of the bad events to embitter.”

Nations as well as individuals can become mired in negative thoughts about the past, Seligman says. “Leaders who incessantly remind their followers of a long history of outrages…produce a vengeful, violent populace.”

To foster feelings of gratitude, he suggests that you set aside five free minutes at night, preferably right before brushing your teeth and heading to bed. Each night, take a clean sheet of paper, think about all that has happened to you during the day, and write down, on separate lines, up to give things you are grateful for.

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