In the Noble Eightfold Path, the Buddha asked us to exert ourselves in 4 things. Two points are associated with the negative and the other two are associated with the positive. This is what is known as “Right Effort”.
1. Effort to avoid any new unwholesome, unskillful, negative thoughts or actions.
2. Effort to overcome and let go any existing unwholesome, unskillful, negative thoughts or actions.
3. Effort to develop new wholesome, skillful, positive thoughts or actions.
4. Effort to maintain, increase, develop wholesome, skillful, positive thoughts or actions that already exist within.
These four points are related to the Buddha’s teaching on karma or cause and effect. Our physical actions, our speech and mental thoughts play a role in our experience of happiness or unhappiness. Unwholesome actions will lead to unhappiness and wholesome actions will lead to happiness. The Buddha wanted us to pay attention and be mindful of our behaviour so that we could develop and increase the positive and stop and let go the negative. This will place us on the path towards increasing levels of happiness and peace.