The first idea of interest came from the author's description of his experience at a Buddhist mediation retreat. Any typos are, as usual, entirely my own doing:
Sounds and smells and tastes, after all, are just sounds and smells and tastes, but thoughts, we tend to assume, are something much more important. Because they come from within us, they feel more essential, and expressive of our deepest selves. But is that true, really? When you start meditating, it soon becomes apparent that thoughts - and emotions - bubble up in much the same uncontrollable, unbidden fashion in which noises reach the ears, smells reach the nose, and so on. I could no more choose for thoughts not to occur than I could choose not to feel chilly when I was woken by the ringing of the morning bell at five-thirty each day - or, for that matter, than I could choose not to hear the bell.
Seeing thoughts as similar to the other five senses makes non-attachment seem much more approachable as a goal. In the analogy most commonly used by contemporary Buddhists, mental activity begins to seem more like weather - like clouds sand sunny spells, rainstorms and blizzards, arising and passing away. The mind, in this analogy, is the sky, and the sky doesn't cling to specific weather conditions, nor try to get rid of the 'bad' ones. The sky just is. In this the Buddhists go further than the Stoics, who can sometimes seem rather attached to certain mind-states, especially that of tranquility. The perfect Stoic adapts his or her thinking so as to remain undisturbed by undesirable circumstances; the perfect Buddhist sees thinking itself as just another set of circumstances, to be non-judgmentally observed.
Everything I've encountered before in my life about meditation left me with the impression that you're supposed to make the clutter in your mind go away. I've also heard (quite often in advice column forums) the idea that our feelings are a choice, and you can choose not to feel a certain way or not to let something bother you.
I've always found this idea quite useless, because no one can ever explain how to do it. (They always say something along the lines of "Just tell yourself not to feel that way any more", as though I can just tell myself something and make myself listen. That approach never works for me because I know that I'm just me telling myself in an attempt to make myself feel a certain way and there's no inherent truth or authority in any of it.)
But I find the weather analogy much more useful. It passes, but that doesn't negate the fact that it exists and its impact is real. To a certain extent we use clothing and other such measure to adapt to weather, but sometimes we just decide it's better to hide out for a while. Hiding out is not unreasonable, as long as you can get done what you need to get done, and adapting your behaviour when you do go outside is not unreasonable and sometimes outright responsible. No one would expect you to disregard the weather or will it away - and you do get to take a snow day when conditions warrant - but when you face weather that everyone faces on a regular basis, or when you face a certain kind of weather with some frequency, you need to figure out what to do to adapt.
As I've gotten older and better at life and more certain of what does and doesn't make me happy, I've also been able to purchase items that not only help me adapt to the weather, but also make me happy. I have an awesome red coat and cashmere sweaters to keep me warm through the winter, a cheerful yellow umbrella and funky Fluevog boots to keep me dry in the rain, breezy skirts and dresses to keep me cool in the summer, and a beautiful, well-built apartment to keep the outdoors out and the indoors in.
The emotional equivalent is basically what I was doing with my 2008 New Year's resolution, where decided to start systematically using worldly comforts to get through dark emotional times rather than push through on willpower alone. I've gotten better and better at it, and now I know to just buy a pre-emptive bag of chips for PMS week, or pop in an Eddie Izzard DVD the moment I get home from working on an emotionally difficult translation.
This is far better for inner peace and happiness than trying to power through it or will it away, plus it actually feels true to me, unlike every other emotion management principle I've encountered. However, I don't see why meditation is remotely necessary to achieve this outlook.