Skillful Effort: Cultivating and Maintaining Positive States of Mind I

Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness (pp. 178-192)

The previous talks have addressed preventing and overcoming negative states of mind.  Once a negative state of mind has been overcome, the mind goes into a neutral state.  In this interval of neutral, the mind (like a gear shift) can go back into a negative state or a positive state. 

Cultivating Positive States of Mind

There are a number of ways to bring up wholesome or positive states of mind:

  • Remember any skillful act that you have done in the past and the pleasant (positive) states of mind that went with that action.
  • Recall your past successes in battling greed, hatred, or delusion.
  • Apply your mind to figure out what actions created the pleasant (positive) mental state.

Maintaining Positive States of Mind

  • Develop strong mindfulness by “paying attention moment to moment to what is.”
  • Associate with good friends.
  • Study the dharma.
  • Meditate.
  • Remember the big picture, maintaining perspective.
  • Ask yourself, “What, in this moment, am I cultivating?”
  • Remember the Buddha’s words: “Do good, do no evil, and purify the mind.”

Reflection

  • Each day, re-read this talk and reflect on it.
  • Apply your mind to figure out what actions created the pleasant (positive) mental state.
  • Are you able to cultivate and maintain positive states of mind?

Meditation

  • Take time to meditate each day if only for a little while.

Next: Skillful Mindfulness: Introduction to Mindfulness
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