Karma Is Friendlier Than It Sounds

Living Well

The popularized concept of karma is that it’s cosmic payback for doing something wrong. But really, it’s the process of setting a cause in motion and experiencing the effect. So how can we identify karma in our daily lives? Here’s a fail-proof test: If something happens, that means it’s karmic. Because everything that happens is the natural fulfillment of a cause set in motion earlier.

Karma isn’t something we have with other people. They’re only providing a backdrop so that we can experience what we’ve set in motion. Their causes and results are dovetailing with ours, but our experience is about us and doesn’t depend on them. “The fact that something is happening in my life right now means that it has a cause that originated with me in the past. Now how should I relate to it?”

There’s nothing personal about karma. It isn’t punishment for refusing to change our behavior. It’s simply the inevitable results of our choices. And we always have the option to either continue on with what we’ve been experiencing or to set other causes in motion, with better results.

Behavior Patterns Have Momentum

Change can be difficult because our past patterns have built tendencies toward similar choices in our present. So a momentum has been established. And the future will be more of the same, unless we do things differently.

When we face unpleasant experiences, staying angry requires wanting to be angry, and deciding to be offended requires wanting to be offended. And our wanting is the cause that keeps resulting in negative experiences.

We Get What We Give

Whatever we do, we’ll keep attracting people who are putting out the same energy that we’re putting out. So if we’re walking around feeling dissatisfied with life, we’ll keep running into people who feel similarly. And if we’re walking around feeling fairly good, remembering to look at what’s working, and appreciating the good stuff, we’ll keep running into people who are doing the same. And the people who are doing that stuff that used to upset up us will stop showing up.

There’s always the possibility to initiate new patterns, even in a challenging situation. Change happens first in the mind and then in the experience, because reality adapts to our new perspective, meaning that everyone and everything has to shift.

How Did I Get Here?

It doesn’t really matter how we got here. It only matters what we do in our present, which is shaping our future. But if we really want to hash it out, we can assume that our thinking has produced our current circumstances. And what a relief to stop blaming others!

Whatever and whoever is showing up is evidence of where we’re at. So life is constantly giving us feedback on our perspective and approach. And if we don’t like it, we’ll need to build some new patterns of thought, belief and expectation – because it’s not possible to negatively think a positive outcome into being. And although that might sound like too much self-improvement gobbledygook, even Einstein said that nothing could change unless we change our thinking.

Keeping Our Power

We sometimes want the people around us to behave differently so we can feel better. And there are various ways to try to get them to do what we want. But when we can say, “You can do what you want, and I’ll just keep being calm and kind, and I’ll keep choosing a response that’s in my best interest for staying sane and feeling good,” we’re in charge.

Staying centered when facing someone who’s driving us crazy will allow us to care about that person. Caring unconditionally means not needing conditions to change in order to care. And from that state, we can kick off new patterns. It means responding in a way that we wish people would respond to us.

If we can get up tomorrow morning and assume that the people we encounter will be opportunities to change our old responses and set some healthier causes in motion, we’ll begin to understand those people at a deeper level. People who try to hurt us are hurting. And when we can avoid joining them in that space they’re in, and instead remain compassionate and supportive, we can change the world we live in – one kinder response at a time.

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Author, Blogger, Contributor to Thrive Global, The Good Men Project and HuffPost