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How many times have you heard someone say they want to make a better world? It is a noble sentiment, but very hard to achieve, right?

Well, actually, it’s quite easy. All we have to do is increase just one human trait. This trait is so powerful that it alone can make people happier without working on their happiness, and make them better – and by “better,” I mean more generous, more honest, more kind, more everything good – without a single lesson in morality.

So, then, what is this one almost magical thing? Drumroll, please.

It’s gratitude.

You can’t be a happy person if you aren’t grateful, and you can’t be a good person if you aren’t grateful. Almost everything good flows from gratitude, and almost everything bad flows from ingratitude.

Let’s begin with ingratitude. Here’s a rule of life: ingratitude guarantees unhappiness. It is as simple as that. There isn't an ungrateful happy person on Earth. And there isn’t an ungrateful good person on Earth. There are two reasons.

Reason one is victimhood. Ingratitude always leads to or comes from victimhood. Ungrateful people—by definition—think of themselves as victims. And perceiving oneself as a victim or perceiving oneself as a member of a victim group may be the single biggest reason people hurt other people—from hurtful comments to mass murder. People who think of themselves as victims tend to believe that because they’ve been hurt by others, they can hurt others.

And the second reason ungrateful people aren’t good people is that ingratitude is always accompanied by anger. The ungrateful are angry, and angry people lash out at others. If ingratitude makes people unhappy and mean, then gratitude must make people happy and kind.

And so it does. Think of the times you have felt most grateful—were they not always accompanied by a feeling of happiness? Weren’t they also accompanied by a desire to be kinder to other people? The answer, of course, is yes. Grateful people aren’t angry and they also don’t see themselves as victims.

The problem, however—and it’s a big one, is that in America and much of the rest of the world, people are becoming less grateful. Why? Because people are constantly told that they are entitled to things they haven’t earned—what are known as “benefits” or “entitlements.” And the more things that people think they should get, the less grateful they will be for whatever they do get. And the more angry—and therefore unhappy—they will be when they don’t get them.

Here are two rules of life. Rule number one: The less you feel entitled to, the more gratitude you will feel for whatever you get and the happier you will be. Rule number two: The more you feel entitled to, the less happy you will be. That’s why, for example, children who get whatever they want are usually less happy children. We have a word for such children: spoiled. And no one thinks of a spoiled child as a happy child, and certainly not a kind one.

The more that you feel that life or society owes you, the angrier you will get, the less happy you will be. As a result, we are increasing the number of angry, unhappy, and selfish people. The other way we are making people unhappy, and even meaner, is by cultivating a sense of victimhood. People are constantly told that they are victims because of their upbringing, because of past prejudice against their group, because of material inequality, because they are female, and for many other reasons.

Next time you want to assess any social policy, ask this question first: Will this policy increase or decrease gratitude among people? You will then know whether it is something that will bring more goodness and happiness to the world—or less.

If I were granted one wish, it would be that all people be grateful. Gratitude is the source of happiness, and the source of goodness; and the more good people, and the more happy people there are walking around, the happier and better our world will be. If you have a way of achieving such a world without increasing gratitude, let me know what it is.
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  |  9277 learners#Social #Essays

Halloween is a popular festival in many countries all over the world, and every year it seems to get bigger. It's getting dark earlier and it's starting to get cold. Christmas is still a long way away. We need something to cheer us up and take our minds off the fact that winter is nearly here. Find out some more about the traditional festival of Halloween.

The festival of Halloween has its roots in Celtic and Roman traditions. Over 2000 years ago the Celts in Britain, Ireland and parts of France celebrated Samhain to mark the beginning of winter. When the Romans invaded, they merged this with Feralia, their celebration of the passing of the dead. As Christianity spread, the Church tried to replace these pagan feasts with official Church holy days. One of these was November 1. It was called All Saints Day, or All Hallows, and October 31 was known as All Hallows Eve, and then Halloween.

In the past there was a tradition called souling. Poor people went around houses asking for food. In exchange, they promised to say prayers for the dead. People no longer go souling, but the habit has been transformed into a modern Halloween game for children in America, who dress up as ghosts, witches and monsters and go around people's houses, asking for sweets. This game is called Trick or Treat.

Halloween wouldn't be fun without witches. Witches have always been part of popular folklore. Shakespeare's play Macbeth opens with three witches. A witch was someone, usually a woman, who had special powers and had dealings with the devil. The American town, Salem, in the state of Massachusetts, is famous for the witchcraft trials, which took place there in 1692.

The pumpkin has become a symbol of Halloween. People empty a pumpkin, cut a face into the side, and put a candle inside to make a lamp. It's known as a Jack-o'-lantern, from an Irish legend about a man called Jack, who made a deal with the devil.

Black cats, frogs, mice and spiders are just some of the animals associated with Halloween. Generally, the more unpleasant the animal, the stronger the Halloween connection. Nocturnal animals like bats are particular favourites, and if, as is the case with vampire bats, they like drinking blood, they are high on the Halloween list.
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  |  10039 learners#Culture #Essays

What is April Fool's Day and what are its origins? It is commonly believed that in medieval France, New Year was celebrated on 1 April. Then in 1562, Pope Gregory introduced a new calendar for the Christian world, changing New Year to 1 January. With no modern communications, news travelled slowly and new ideas were often questioned. Many people did not hear of the change, others chose to ignore it, while some merely forgot. These people were called fools. Invitations to non-existent New Year parties were sent and other practical jokes were played. This jesting evolved over time into a tradition of playing pranks on 1 April. The custom eventually spread to England and Scotland, and it was later transported across the Atlantic to the American colonies of the English and the French. April Fools Day has now developed into an international festival of fun, with different nationalities celebrating the day in special ways.

In France and Italy, if someone plays a trick on you, you are the fish of April. By the month of April fish have only just hatched and are therefore easy to catch. Children stick paper fish to their friends' backs and chocolate fish are found in the shops.

In Scotland, April Fools Day lasts for two days! The second day is called Taily Day and tricks on this day involve the bottom or the tail in informal speech. Often a sign saying kick me is stuck onto someone's back without them knowing.

In Spain and Mexico, similar celebrations take place on 28 December. The day is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Originally, the day was a sad remembrance of the slaughter of the innocent children by Herod in his search for the baby Jesus. It eventually changed to a lighter commemoration of innocence involving pranks and trickery.

Today, Americans and the British play small tricks on friends and strangers alike on 1 April. A common trick is to point to a friend's shoe and say Your shoelace is untied. When they look down, they are laughed at. Schoolchildren might tell a friend that school has been cancelled. A bag of flour might be balanced on the top of a door so that when the victim opens the door, the flour empties over their head. Sometimes the media gets involved. Once, a British short film was shown on April Fools Day about spaghetti farmers and how they harvest their crop from spaghetti trees!

Most April Fool jokes are in good fun and not meant to harm anyone. The best trick is the one where everyone laughs, especially the person upon whom the joke has been played.

Two British policemen were sent to investigate a glowing flying saucer on 31 March, the day before April Fool's Day. When the policemen arrived at a field in Surrey, they saw a small figure wearing a silver space suit walking out of a spacecraft. Immediately the police ran off in the opposite direction. Reports revealed that the alien was in fact a midget, and the flying saucer was a hot air balloon that had been specially built to look like a UFO by Richard Branson, the 36-year-old chairman of Virgin Records.

Branson had planned to land the balloon in London's Hyde Park on 1 April. However, a wind change had brought him down in a Surrey field. The police were bombarded with phone calls from terrified motorists as the balloon drifted over the motorway. One lady was so shocked by the incident that she didn't realise that she was standing naked in front of her window as she was describing the UFO to a radio station.
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  |  10140 learners#Culture #Essays

Most people are aware that Canada and the United States are two very large countries in North America. However, most people do not know how these countries came to exist. The story of the creation of these countries is a very interesting one. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, some people from England and from France moved across the Atlantic ocean. English people lived on what is now the east coast of the United States, and French people lived in what is now Quebec, in the eastern part of Canada. The kings of England and France were often at war with each other. This meant that there was often fighting in North America between the soldiers of England and France.

By about the year 1750, there were many more people in the English colonies than in the French colonies. When the next war began, the English king was determined to defeat the French and gain complete control of North America. The English assembled a large force of ships and soldiers and attacked the French at Quebec. The French fought bravely, but they were too few in numbers, and the English won the war. England then gained control of all of North America.

After this war, the people of the English colonies in North America began to feel dissatisfied with their government. They were not represented in the English government, but they had to pay taxes to the English king. The taxes were used to pay for English soldiers who defended the American colonies, but the Americans did not want these soldiers. In 1775, the American settlers began to rebel, and in 1776 the Americans declared their independence. For several years, there was much fighting between the Americans and the English soldiers. For a while, it appeared that the Americans would lose, even though they fought bravely. Then, the king of France decided to help the Americans. He sent his ships and soldiers to America, and they helped the Americans to defeat the English forces. England recognized the United States of America as an independent country in 1783.

However, England kept control of Canada. When the American colonies rebelled against England, some of the people who lived in those colonies did not rebel. Those people were called Loyalists because they were loyal to the king. When the war ended, the Loyalists had to leave the country. They moved northward to Canada, where they started new English-speaking colonies. During the year 1812, the Americans invaded Canada, but they were not able to conquer the country.

During the nineteenth century, the people of Quebec continued to speak French and to maintain their French culture. Meanwhile, many more people moved to the English-speaking areas of Canada. In the year 1867, Quebec and the English-speaking colonies agreed to form a single country, Canada. By this time, there were two very large countries in the northern part of North America!
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  |  9240 learners#Politic #Essays

Today, in the early twenty-first century, most countries no longer have kings and queens. However, some countries have remained as monarchies, including England and its former colonies. However, even in these countries, the monarch is a ceremonial figure who no longer has any real power over his or her subjects. These countries are called constitutional monarchies because they are democracies in which the monarch remains the official head of state.

Many years ago, the kings and queens of England did have real power, but gradually this power was transferred to the people and their elected officials. It is interesting to examine how this transition occurred. Even in very early times, the king of England did not have absolute power. He was the most powerful man in the country, but he could not entirely force his will upon others. If he became too demanding, he might face opposition from powerful local land-owners. These men, called the barons, might resist a king who tried to become too strong. This is exactly what happened in the year 1215. The king of England had made many unreasonable demands upon the country, and the barons decided to resist. They forced the king to agree to a list of rules that would limit his power. These rules were written in a famous document called the Magna Carta. This document described not only the rights of the barons, but also of the common people of England.

During the next few hundred years, the kings still had much power. However, some other people, such as the landowners and the richer men of the towns, also had influence. Their meetings became known as Parliaments, and the king had to share power with the parliament. During the 1640s, one king tried to rule without Parliament, and tried to take away the rights of Parliament. This led to a civil war, and the king was defeated. England soon became a monarchy again, but it became clear that Parliament would have more power than the king. Until the twentieth century, the Parliaments of England became more democratic, as more and more people were allowed to vote.

Today, England still has a constitutional monarchy. But not all English-speaking countries recognize the English queen. For example, the United States became an independent country over 200 years ago and has become a republic ever since. In some countries, there is debate about the future of the monarchy. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand still recognize the queen of England as their own queen even though those countries are no longer governed by England. Many people in those countries want to abolish the monarchy. They believe that their countries should now have their own head of state. On the other hand, some people in those countries want to keep the monarchy because it reminds them of their country's early history. This is an ongoing topic of debate for Canadians, Australians, and New Zealanders.
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  |  9191 learners#Culture #Essays

Of the fifty states in the United States, forty-nine are located on the mainland of North America. The other state is Hawaii, which consists of several islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii is known as an especially beautiful and interesting place. The Hawaiian islands were formed by volcanic eruptions that pushed molten rock, called lava, above the surface of the ocean.

Some of the islands no longer have any volcanic activity, but there are still active volcanoes on two Hawaiian islands, Oahu and the big island which is known simply as Hawaii. One of these volcanoes, Mauna Loa, still erupts sometimes, with spectacular explosions of lava. Another volcano, called Mauna Kea, is now dormant. These volcanoes are both very tall and reach over 4000 metres above sea level. The air above Mauna Kea is so clear and thin that scientists use the mountain as a base for observing the stars. The islands of Hawaii are located in the tropics, and they are known for their beautiful weather. The temperatures are usually in the range of 20 to 30 degrees Celsius, and the days are usually sunny. This weather allows people to enjoy swimming and surfing on the beautiful beaches of Hawaii.

Despite the sunshine, most of the islands also receive enough rainfall to support many beautiful flowers and trees. The first people to live in Hawaii were Polynesian groups who arrived from other islands in the Pacific, well over 1000 years ago. The islands were visited by European explorers during the late eighteenth century. During the early nineteenth century, the islands became unified under a single king. However, during this time, many Hawaiians died from diseases that were brought by European and American visitors. The Hawaiian islands are excellent places for growing sugar cane and pineapples. In the late eighteenth century, some Americans began large farms, called plantations, in Hawaii.

The Americans eventually gained control of the government, and Hawaii became a territory of the United States. The United States built a naval base on the island of Oahu, at Pearl Harbor. This base was attacked by Japan in 1941, but it was soon repaired. The naval base is still in use today. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there was great demand for labour on the sugar and pineapple plantations. People came to Hawaii from many lands, and Hawaii became a place of many cultures. The native Hawaiians mixed with people from places such as Japan, China, Korea, the Philippines, Portugal, and Puerto Rico, as well as the mainland United States.

Today, many Hawaiians can claim a diverse heritage. In 1959, Hawaii became the 50th state of the United States, with the city of Honolulu as its capital. Today, there are more than one million people in Hawaii, more than half of whom live in Honolulu. Each year, many more people visit Hawaii as tourists, to experience the beauty of these islands.
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  |  9084 learners#General #Essays

In most English-speaking countries, a person who is accused of a crime has the right to a trial by jury. In a trial by jury, the guilt or innocence of the accused person is decided by a group of 12 people, called jurors, who must listen to the evidence about the case. The idea of trial by jury is over 800 years old, but there was a time when criminal cases were decided in other ways.

Today, many of these methods seem ridiculous and cruel. Many accused people were forced to undergo a trial by ordeal. There were several different kinds of this trial. For example, in the ordeal by fire, an accused man was forced to carry a red-hot piece of iron in his hand. People believed that if the men were innocent then the gods would protect him, and his hand would not be burned or blistered by the iron. Another form of the trial by ordeal was the ordeal by combat. If one person accused another of a crime, they would be forced to fight each other with some weapon.

People believed that the gods would help the man who was right and allow him to win the fight. Yet another kind of ordeal was the ordeal by water. If a woman was accused of a crime, such as witchcraft, she might be thrown into a river with rocks attached to her. People believed that the gods would help an innocent woman and allow her to float on the water. Gradually, people realized that the trial by ordeal was a completely worthless way to judge a person's innocence or guilt. They wanted a less barbaric way to decide criminal cases. During the twelfth century, a new method was introduced by one of the kings of England, Henry the Second. Henry said that criminal cases should be decided by the opinions of twelve honest men who knew about the crime, the victim, and the accused person. This was the beginning of trial by jury in English-speaking countries, and the method soon became very popular. People trusted this new method much more than they trusted the old methods. Later, the system of trial by jury changed somewhat. Instead of having a jury of twelve men and women who knew about the crime, juries were chosen so that the twelve people did not know anything about the crime. This change ensures that the jurors do not have any bias or prejudice about the case. When jurors do not know any of the people involved in the case, their decisions are more likely to be fair and accurate.

Today, citizens in many countries are called occasionally for jury duty. This can be inconvenient for people who are busy with their work and family life. However, many men and women are willing to serve on juries because of a feeling of responsibility to society. The use of juries in criminal cases helps to ensure that justice is done.
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  |  9030 learners#Culture #Essays

Most people would like to have an attractive physical appearance, but some people become very worried about the way they look. This can sometimes lead them to do things that are unhealthy. For example, many women believe that they must be very thin in order to be attractive. They see pictures of fashion models who are very thin and then believe that an attractive woman must look the same way.

However, many men prefer the appearance of women who are not so thin. In order to become thin, some women try to reduce the amount of food that they eat. When this is taken to an extreme, a woman might eat far too little food to remain healthy. Her weight may become dangerously low, as she tries to become thinner and thinner. This condition is called anorexia, and it affects many thousands of women in Western countries. Anorexia is one of several conditions known as eating disorders. Another eating disorder is called bulimia. A woman who has bulimia will sometimes eat large amounts of food, but then will try to eliminate the food, by vomiting. This is intended to prevent any weight gain, but it is also a very unhealthy behavior.

Unfortunately, some women are concerned about being very thin, but some women have different concerns related to the appearance of their body. For example, some women believe that their breasts are not large enough, and will undergo surgery to enlarge their breasts. In this surgery, some artificial substance is implanted inside the breast to make it larger. Many women have had this surgery, but many of them have suffered serious health problems as a result. In recent years, many men have also become very concerned about their physical appearance. For example, some men believe that they must become very muscular in order to have an attractive appearance. To achieve this appearance, some men use drugs called steroids, which make it possible to gain large amounts of muscle. However, steroids can have very unhealthy side effects.

In addition to drugs, some men have used surgery to change their physical appearance. For example, some men have had implants to make their arms, legs, or chest appear larger. It is unfortunate that so many people feel so unhappy about their physical appearance and that they do unhealthy things to change the way they look. Of course, everyone should try to be healthy, but people must also learn to accept their physical appearance. Many different body types can be attractive, but there is no single ideal body type. There is no need to use unnatural methods of changing one's body.
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  |  10507 learners#Social #Essays

In modern society, many people find that they do not get very much exercise. They travel by bus, train, or car, and they can move up or down in elevators. They have machines that do most of the heavy work that was once done by people.

However, exercise is important for staying healthy. A person who exercises frequently will be physically fit. There are different aspects of physical fitness. One important element of being physically fit is called cardio-vascular fitness. The word cardio-vascular refers to the heart and lungs. If one's heart and lungs are in good condition, then one can exercise at a steady pace without soon getting tired.

To develop cardio-vascular fitness, it is important to perform some exercise that makes one's heart beat quickly. For example, a person can improve cardio-vascular fitness by riding a bicycle, by running, by swimming, by rowing, or even by walking quickly. Some people go to special places, called health clubs or gyms where they can use different exercise machines to develop their cardio-vascular fitness. But many people improve their cardio-vascular fitness by playing recreational sports, such as tennis or soccer, or by dancing vigorously.

By having good cardio-vascular fitness, one is less likely to suffer from heart disease. Of course, there is one way to improve cardio-vascular fitness that does not involve exercise-stop smoking! Another important aspect of physical fitness is called flexibility. Flexibility refers to one's ability to stretch comfortably. For example, a healthy person should be able to touch his or her toes without bending the legs. People can perform various stretching exercises to improve flexibility. By being flexible, a person can avoid injuries that might otherwise affect their body. Yet another important aspect of physical fitness is the strength and endurance of one's muscles.

Many people suffer from injuries that result, in part, from weakness of the muscles. Muscular strength and endurance can be improved by a variety of exercises. Some of these exercises involve lifting a weight, but other exercises simply involve pushing or pulling against the weight of one's own body. One example is an exercise called the push-up. In this exercise, a person lies on the floor, with the face pointing down. The person bends his or her arms, so that the palms of the hands are on the floor, next to the shoulders. The person then pushes with his or her arms, lifting the upper part of the body above the ground until the arms are straight. Before starting to do any exercises, it is a good idea to have a medical check-up. Some people do not want to exercise because they think it will be too much work However, many people find that they feel very good when they exercise. Exercising can be an enjoyable and fun way to maintain health and fitness.
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  |  10214 learners#Sport #Essays
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