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Having an optimistic outlook on life is wonderful. It gives you the confidence to tackle new challenges, it makes everyday problems seem less difficult, and it helps you to look forward to a joyful future. Unfortunately, if you’re currently mired in a pessimistic worldview, it’s hard to know what to do when people tell you ‘be more optimistic!’ If you’re ready to boost your optimism, it’s time to start thinking about what meditation experts call ‘the monkey mind.’

The problem with the monkey mind

The monkey mind is a metaphor often used in meditation training to describe the part of your brain that’s restless. It never quite stops thinking and is prone to jumping around from thought to thought, pulling up memories and worries even when you’re trying to concentrate on being positive and making brave decisions. Everyone has a monkey mind (it’s not a unique trait of pessimists), but the combination of a negative outlook and an active monkey mind makes advice about being optimistic very difficult to follow,

How to quiet the monkey mind

Fortunately, meditators have been solving the problem of the monkey mind for thousands of years. Techniques such as mindfulness meditation allow you to settle your mind, focusing on a sense of calm and stillness rather than attending to every single thought that dashes through your consciousness. This is hugely beneficial to someone who is wrestling with pessimism. Meditating helps you to build mental discipline, relaxes your mind so that you’re not wasting mental energy on endless negative thoughts, and (perhaps most importantly) increases your awareness of the types of thoughts that you are experiencing. When you can immediately notice a negative idea slipping into your mind – and calmly recognise it as just a passing thought that you don’t need to attend to right now – you’ll find it much easier to focus on the positive and develop your capacity for optimism.

Meditation training

If you’ve never meditated before, it’s hard to know where to start. There are countless books, websites and apps available, but working face-to-face with an experienced meditator is much more satisfying and effective for most beginners. Contact Eiran on 0466 495 711 or eiran@openforlife.com.au to discuss how meditation training can boost your optimism and help you to reach your goals.