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Positive Emotions


Approaching the Buddhist Path

Volume 1 of The Library of Wisdom and Compassion

by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and
Ven. Thubten Chodron

Wisdom Publications

Learning how to consciously direct our thoughts in a more positive way is essential for counteracting afflictive mental states.

Working with afflictive emotions requires a two-pronged approach. Managing unwholesome emotions and stopping actions motivated by them are important components, but they don’t resolve all problems. We also need to cultivate wholesome emotions.

Although we may not initially be able to call upon these positive emotions in the heat of the moment, gradually and diligently cultivating them in our meditation practice affects our temperament and influences our emotional patterns. The more familiar we are with these beneficial emotions, the less susceptible we are to harmful emotions.

Developing constructive emotions is similar to bolstering our immune system. Cultivating love strengthens our emotional immunity to anger. Developing compassion prevents cruelty, joy opposes jealousy, and equanimity averts bias due to attachment, anger, and apathy.

Reflecting on the benefits of having a particular wholesome emotion invigorates our efforts to develop it. For instance, if we contemplate the benefits of seeing sentient beings as loveable and imagine the good feeling that will derive from that, we will happily meditate on their kindness. This will cause feelings of gratitude and appreciation for others to arise naturally in our mind.

To see the advantages of certain practices, we can ask ourselves, “What is disrupting my inner contentment?” We then see the negative emotions as the culprits and want to oppose them. With this determination, we will seek the methods to counteract those disturbing emotions and diligently practice these methods.