Skillful Effort: Cultivating and Maintaining Positive States of Mind II

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

The steps to take to cultivate and maintain positive states of mind were addressed in the previous talk.

Cultivating and Maintaining Positive States of Mind

One of the suggested steps to cultivate a positive state of mind was to apply your mind to figure out what actions created the pleasant (positive) mental state.

Practicing/reflecting/experiencing the four Divine abodes or Brahma Viharas are actions that will cultivate positive states of mind.

The Four Brahma Viharas are:

  1. Loving Kindness (wishing happiness and peacefulness to others)
  2. Compassion (the intention to relieve the suffering of others)
  3. Sympathetic Joy (sharing in the joy of the success of others)
  4. Equanimity (seeing things as they are)

The first two, Loving Kindness and Compassion were noted in the second step of the Eightfold Path, Right Thinking (Intention) (pp. 65-81).

Note that all of Brahma Viharas are concerned with how we relate others and the outside world.    By doing this, our attention is taken away from the concept of the self.  As a result, suffering ceases.

Right Effort is one of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment

The Seven Factors of Enlightenment are:

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Investigation
  3. Effort
  4. Joy
  5. Tranquility
  6. Concentration
  7. Equanimity

Right Effort is the third factor and combined with the first three, brings the fourth factor, joy.

We will explore the Seven Factors of Enlightenment more in step seven: Right (Skillful) Mindfulness

By cultivating and maintaining positive states of mind which includes preventing and overcoming negative states of mind with effort through mindfulness and investigation, we benefit by experiencing joy.

Reflection

  • Each day, re-read this talk and reflect on it.  Do you see the role of skillful effort in your practice?  Have you been able to experience true joy?

Meditation

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

Next: Skillful Speech: Right Time to Speak/Listening from the Space of Silence
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