This past summer I received a review copy of Janice Kaplan’s book The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year of Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life. I was intrigued, not because I’m an enthusiastic consumer of self-help literature but because I guessed that Ms. Kaplan must have endured some biblically proportioned misfortunes to feel qualified to write an entire book about optimism. I checked her author photo: no disfigurement to speak of, but then again it was only a head shot. Would her bio place her as a refugee, a terminal patient, maybe the victim of a Twitter shaming campaign? No such luck. She “has enjoyed wide success as a magazine editor, television producer, writer, and journalist.” She “lives in New York City and Kent, Connecticut.” The book, I thought, ought to include a disclaimer for the genuinely suffering: Your results may...


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