Our propensity to overvalue the things we have is exploited every day by the business community. Marketers understand that when we buy a product and take it home, the endowment effect will take over and we won't want to return it. And so, we see furniture retailers enticing us to take home a new dining room set today--without starting our payments for one full year. In other cases, we can get a free Internet connection, or a reduced rate on cable TV or phone service, for a number of months. Getting a product on a trial basis or for a reduced initial price lures us in, and once we have it, we're reluctant to give it up. At some gas stations, fuel is less expensive if purchased with cash instead of credit. Credit card companies encourage the stations to call the difference a cash discount as opposed to a credit card surcharge. Why? Surcharges are seen as out-of-pocket losses, while cash discounts are viewed as gains. Although the fee structure is the same for both, we react more to a surcharge "loss," so we're less likely to use a credit card if a surcharge is involved. Loss aversion may also complicate our negotiations with others, because each party considers its concessions to be losses, and those losses loom larger than the gains received from the other negotiating party. Loss aversion may even explain an incumbent politician's advantage in elections, since the potential loss from an unfavorable change may be viewed to be greater than the potential gain from a favorable change in leadership.Our desire to avoid losses can have far-reaching effects. This principle can be used on a day-to-day basis in your own meditation. If a particular sort of obsession is troubling you, you can cancel it out by generating its opposite. Here is an example: If you absolutely hate Charlie, and his scowling face keeps popping into your mind, try directing a stream of love and friendliness toward Charlie, or try contemplating his good qualities. You probably will get rid of the immediate mental image. Then you can get on with the job of meditation. Sometimes this tactic alone doesn't work. The obsession is simply too strong. In this case you've got to weaken its hold on you somewhat before you can successfully balance it out.

Here is where guilt, one of man's most misbegotten emotions, finally serves a purpose. Take a good strong look at the emotional response you are trying to get rid of. Actually ponder it. See how it makes you feel. Look at what it is doing to your life, your happiness, your health, and your relationships. Try to see how it makes you appear to others. Look at the way it is hindering your progress toward liberation. The Pali scriptures urge you to do this very thoroughly indeed. They advise you to work up the same sense of disgust and humiliation that you would feel if you were forced to walk around with the carcass of a dead and decaying animal tied around your neck. Real loathing is what you are after. This step may end the problem all by itself. If it doesn't, then balance out the lingering remainder of the obsession by once again generating its opposite emotion. Thoughts of greed cover everything connected with desire, from outright avarice for material gain, all the way to a subtle need to be respected as a moral person. Thoughts of hatred run the gamut from pettiness to murderous rage. Delusion covers everything from daydreaming to full-blown hallucinations. Generosity cancels greed. Benevolence and compassion cancel hatred. You can find a specific antidote for any troubling thought if you just think about it awhile. There are times when things pop into your mind, apparently at random. Words, phrases, or whole sentences jump up out of the unconscious for no discernible reason.

Objects appear. Pictures flash on and off. This is an unsettling experience. Your mind feels like a flag flapping in a stiff wind. It washes back and forth like waves in the ocean. Often, at times like this, it is enough just to remember why you are there. You can say to yourself, "I'm not sitting here just to waste my time with these thoughts. I'm here to focus my mind on the breath, which is universal and common to all living beings." Sometimes your mind will settle down, even before you complete this recitation. Other times you may have to repeat it several times before you refocus on the breath. These techniques can be used singly, or in combinations. Properly employed, they constitute quite an effective arsenal for your battle against the monkey mind. Another way to care for your soul is to talk to God. You might be wondering, Don't you mean "pray"? That depends on your definition of that often misunderstood word. If by pray you mean "mutter a stream of rote, repetitious phrases you once heard in church"--things you'd never say to an intimate friend--then, no, that's definitely not what I mean. If prayer, to you, typically consists of a dreary session of complaining and self-condemning, that's also not what I have in mind. Here's the point: the hope that's restored when you choose faith over despair is real. It's the priceless assurance that you are loved--beyond all reason--by a Creator who never takes his eyes off you for a second. He's the type who gleefully gets out his wallet to show off photos of all his children to anyone nearby. What would you tell that person over a cup of tea today?

Where it hurts? Your small (and large) victories? Your dreams and ambitions? Maybe your nightmares and disappointments? Would you ask some tough questions? Tell him what you fear? What you love? What you want? Would you laugh and cry together? I believe you would. And you can. A heartfelt and honest conversation with God is yours for the having. Perhaps best of all, when talking with God, you can ask for wisdom and guidance amid all your struggles. Everyone on earth could use divine direction and understanding in their daily lives, and this is especially true for those battling depression. Prayer is a powerful source of insight and inspiration as you pursue healing. As this psalm so eloquently describes, God certainly speaks through nature. That message is one of majesty and grandeur, to be sure, but also of balance, beauty, and rebirth--qualities we can cling to in tough times. That's just the beginning. Because God is the Creator, his voice can be heard all over his creation. God's voice can be heard in art and music and stories that inspire us to be more and do better.

He speaks in every act of kindness, no matter how small. God's part of the conversation is found in sacred Scriptures and in the words of wise people throughout time who have labored to bring light into the darkness of ignorance. God speaks in our dreams and in subtle moments of intuition. But as in every conversation, it's possible not to hear a word of it. Why? Because we're not listening. Until we choose to believe God will actually answer our questions and calm our fears, we may frantically do all the talking and never make room for his reply. To avoid this unnecessary mistake, we must slow down, set aside time to be quiet, and extend our awareness. If we go looking for the diverse love notes from God that litter the world, we will find them. It's one of those things that come as much out of your environment as from within. It's incredibly hard to feel good about yourself if you're surrounded by people who constantly tell you how silly what you're doing is or try to make you feel bad about yourself. So, to combat that kind of thinking, you'll need to make a few changes. Positivity. It's a simple word but it's one of the most powerful things you'll learn in this book. You can't just wake up one day and go buy positivity like you would a new wardrobe. You can't have your negative energy cut off like a mop of shaggy hair. You have to build it from within, generating sincere, positive power deep inside that your body can thrive on. When you wake up each day, remind yourself of the positive influences in your world and the opportunities you have, things open up - you'll feel a surge of energy unlike anything you've ever encountered before. Here are some additional exercises inspired by the exercises used by the US Nursing Association to help patients recover from disease and surgery. For years the power of positive thinking has been shown to help in healing and achieving success: Use Positive Words When Talking - Focus on saying things in positive ways, even when describing a negative situation.