I think there are at least two really big low hanging fruits for beginner meditators. A big juicy apple and a ripe avocado. Let’s start with the avocado because they are my favourite.
In my experience most people want to feel good. However, people want to feel good with low effort, and don’t want to have to work for it.
I’ve got some good news for you! There’s a very good chance that you can feel good, with low effort, at least for some of the time, each day. Of course, if you feel really bad, this isn’t going to make everything sunshine and rainbows right away. It should make you feel a little better though. But only if you follow the instructions—you can’t cheat.
1) Set a timer for 15 minutes.
2) Sit down and close your eyes. Try to keep your spine straight. Use a chair if you like.
3) Come up with reasons to feel good, in the form of positive mental talk (“I have a loving family”), and positive mental image (“This is what their smiling faces look like”). Be really creative about this. Think of all the people that you care about, all the good things that have ever happened to you, all your hopes, dreams, and aspirations. All the things you’re grateful for in your life. When the feelings of joy or love or gratitude or compassion (etc.) come up... focus on the emotion(s) directly. Their sensations, location in the body, etc. If the emotions start to fade, renew your positive talk and imagery (I got this strategy from the Dalai Lama), until the emotion returns.
4) After 15 minutes, stand up.
5) Maintain the feeling throughout the day as long as you can. When it starts to slip, you can renew it with more positive mental talk and image.
If you do this, you’ll notice that not only you’re happier, but that when you are happier, you’re a very different person. Your body language, the things you say, the way you behave, the thoughts you think… all these things change drastically when you feel good. Try to observe the difference in yourself. This will provide further encouragement.
Don’t worry if you can’t generate good feelings at first. Especially if you weren’t feeling good to start with. The most important thing is to do the practice, and then to observe any change in your mental state that results from it. Building the habit of the practice is the most important thing, so you don’t think that you failed if you don’t radiate joy immediately. If you practice, you can improve at this skill, and over time, it will change your relationship to emotions in very a positive way.