Though it is central to several major religions, the concept of karma has become something that many people are integrating into their life philosophy. Indeed, even people who only have a basic understanding of karma from a religious perspective often hold it in extremely high regard. In many cases, it can be the central moral principle of a person’s life without them subscribing to a religion.
Even if your knowledge of karma is limited, you’ve likely heard the terms “good karma” and “bad karma” at some point in your life. At their most basic, these terms refer to the type of actions one takes, and the subsequent reaction they can expect from a conscious universe. Those who do good can expect to benefit, while those who mistreat others can expect punishment.
In the following article, we’ll take a much closer look at karma, both from a religious and a philosophical perspective. We’ll also discuss the benefits of integrating the concept of karma into your worldview. Lastly, we’ll discuss how to get good karma and pursue true happiness.
What Is Karma?
Karma is an ancient concept, roughly translating to “work” or “deed.” It is essentially a spiritual principle of cause and effect, wherein the actions of an individual influence the future of that person. Where good deeds result in rewards, bad deeds result in punishments. It is a central tenant to Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Taoism, as well as many modern philosophies.
In the strictly religious context, karma does not always affect the future of a person’s life so much as the future lives of that person. As many of these religions view life as a recurrent cycle of birth and death, the karma a person gathers in their life determines the status of their next “rebirth.” In some cases, the faiths say that those who build up bad karma will lose station while those with good karma gain it.
Taken in a more philosophical context, karma is quite similar to “The Golden Rule,” which states that one should always do unto others as they would have them do unto them. This saying generally assumes that those who treat others poorly will, in turn, be treated poorly and vice versa. Like karma, it also assumes a state of harmony if everyone were only to treat others well.
No matter how you view karma, there’s no arguing that it subscribing to it as a “rule of thumb” or even a code of conduct can have a tremendous effect on your interactions with others. In the following section, we’ll examine the benefits of karma more closely.
The Benefits of “Believing” in Karma
We should note that it is not our intent to offend anyone to whom karma is a true religious belief. No doubt, those of you who follow Hinduism and Buddhism can benefit a lot from what this article has to say. However, we do want to introduce new people to the concept of karma and allow them to decide if and how they wan to attach it to their current moral compass.
When you take on even the most basic karmic tenants, you are acknowledging that you would like to treat people, things, and the planet in a different way. You are committing to being a more positive force in the world. As with any other big changes in lifestyle or philosophy, this can have a profound effect on your life. For instance:
You’ll Begin to See the World as a Whole
Even without following Hindu or Buddhist teachings, living in a karmic way will undoubtedly force you to acknowledge the word as a more unified concept. Living with the assumption that your deeds will affect your future happiness establishes a system in which everyone’s acts affect everyone’s happiness. In time, you’ll begin to see more ways in which plants, animals, and humans are all connected.
You’ll Be Able to Forgive More Easily
When you live karmically, you’ll begin to see how negative actions can build up in your system and cause you a lot of mental and physical anguish. Whether these actions are things you do to others or things they do to you, karma encourages you to forgive those who wrong you and release those negative feelings as fast as possible. When you forgive more easily, you will find you are much happier.
You’ll Be Able to Make More Conscious Choices
Choices are complicated, and many of the decisions we make can have hundreds of different outcomes. When you live karmically, however, you are always identifying choices as those that will build good karma and those that will build bad karma. Rather than oversimplifying the choice, this merely allows you to categorize them almost instantly.
If you choose, you can further identify your choices by whom they serve. Are you doing something for the good of your ego, or because it is the right thing to do? Once you start categorizing choices like this, you’ll be surprised how clear decision making can become.
You’ll Become Much More Gracious
When you understand that there are consequences to the bad things you do and rewards for the good things you do, you inevitably become a more gracious person. Being gracious means seeing the good that others are trying to do and appreciating the small niceties that the world offers you. Properly cultivated, gratitude alone can change a person’s entire life.
How to Get Good Karma
Now that we’ve established what karma is, we’re going to discuss how you can build up enough good karma to take on any challenge this life (or the next) has to throw at you. Some of these suggestions are easier to translate into your daily activities, while others may require a lot more effort. Still, some may require considerable changes in the way you approach life.
Be Honest – Always
Lies are one of the fastest ways to attract bad karma to your life. Not only do you have to deal with the fallout from the lies you tell, but – when you lie – you set yourself up for having to deal with future deceit and hidden agendas. In many cases, you’ll find that a single lie, no matter how small, will force you to have to tell many others in the future.
Honesty is the best policy for a lot of reasons. Many people may not realize it, but the lies we tell take an enormous toll on our psyche, often putting an undue burden on our subconscious as we struggle to remember what we’ve said and to whom we’ve said it. If you want to start down the path toward building good karma, begin by telling the truth in everything you do.
When you start to become truthful, you’ll start to notice that the world becomes easier and more transparent. Suddenly, navigating relationships (both personal and professional) becomes less of a hassle. This feeling is you clearing unwanted debris from your mind and replacing it with positivity. Not only have you stopped lying to others, but you’ve also stopped lying to yourself.
Try to Live With Purpose
Regardless of where you sit on the existential spectrum, living a karmic life means acknowledging that a life with purpose is better than one without it. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to set out a flawless plan for your life and follow it to a “T.” Instead, living with purpose means that, whatever you do in life, you do it to the fullest extent and set definite intentions for what you want.
Living with purpose can mean going after your goals, pursuing your dreams, and genuinely trying to be the best version of yourself that you can be. When you accomplish this, you’ll be surprised how quickly you find yourself surrounded by people that have the same positive energy you’re attempting to cultivate. Together, you’ll be virtually unstoppable.
So, if you’re making a sandwich – try to make it the best sandwich you’ve ever made. If a friend asks you to help them move for an hour, help them for three. It may seem trivial, but these little commitments hold great purpose.
There is no greater gift in life than the gift of helping people. In terms of karma, there is no better way to attract positive energy to yourself than by going out of your want to help others. In most cases, this is also one of the techniques on this list that can result in “instant karma,” wherein your helping others can very quickly lead to others helping you – sometimes within days or hours of each other.
In your life, you receive a specific variety of traits and talents. You can use them to enrich yourself or use them to enrich the lives of others. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with making sure you, your family, and your friends are taken care of, helping strangers and others in need is one of the noblest and fulfilling pursuits in life.
As you go about your day, you will undoubtedly encounter people who are in need in some way. In many cultures, we teach ourselves to ignore these people or “mind our own business.” A person cultivating good karma does not do this. Rather, we do what we can whenever we can. The more we go out of our way, the more karma we build. Help people daily, and the rewards will be great.
There is a wealth of information stored inside our minds, the majority of which we never even get a chance to see. This data is not out of reach, however. All it takes is a little bit of meditation. When we meditate, we go inside our mind, tapping into our subconscious and unconscious. From unlocking memories to releasing positive (and negative) energies, we can do a lot through this process.
Meditation is key to cultivating good karma because it helps us stay focused and maintain a positive energy flow. When we fail to do this, we are much more likely to act impulsively, selfishly, or in other ways that will draw bad energy to us. Through meditation, we can have a conversation with ourselves about who we are and who we want to be.
Try to Remember the “Big Picture”
It’s not only natural but common for those of us in Western societies to be uncommonly focused on the individual. In many cases, such as America, eschewing the “collective” and the “greater good” is considered the path to wealth, success, and self-determination. The opposite of the individual, however, is not the collective – it is everything.
By everything, we mean the big picture. Life is not just a series of uncontrollable events that happen to us for no reason. Instead, every cause has an effect, and every action has a reaction. Keeping this concept at the forefront of your mind will help you make more studied observations about the world and the people and things in it.
Remembering the “Big Picture” helps attract good karma because it forces you to act more compassionately. That person that is being cruel or dishonest to you – they aren’t just a terrible person, there’s a reason they’re acting as they are. When you start seeing the big picture more, your attitude about the world will change dramatically toward the positive.
Remember to be Compassionate
Along with their newfound understanding of the big picture, those who strive to live a karmic life will undoubtedly develop an overwhelming sense of compassion for the world. This feeling is a natural byproduct of turning one’s feelings outward instead of inward and attempting to live less selfishly. Suddenly, even bad people being to tell you a story that makes you pity them and want to help.
Along with kindness, compassion for others regardless of what they’re going through (and how they treat you) is one of the fastest ways to accumulate good karma. We all fight battles, and lending someone a sympathetic ear or an empathetic heart is paramount to living a karmic life. In all things, show kindness, compassion, and understanding, and your rewards will be beyond your imagination.
Compliment People Frequently
You can show kindness in a lot of ways, but one that is particularly easy to put into action throughout the day is a simple compliment. Negativity often plagues people from both inside and outside sources, which can make it very difficult for them to feel good about themselves. When you offer them a compliment, no matter how small, it can have an astounding ripple effect on their thinking.
Compliments are like little flowers that you can plant in people’s days. They don’t carry the karmic weight of say, helping someone move or getting someone a job, but they are a great way to inject positivity into a person’s routine. Compliment people frequently, and you’ll start to notice that you’ll attract more positive energy as you go about your day.
As we mentioned earlier, we are all blessed with a certain amount of skills and traits that we can use to help ourselves or help others. Well, one of the best ways that you can help another person is by passing those skills on through teaching. From instructing someone to play guitar (for free) or teaching someone how to grow a garden, there’s no end to the benefits of educating others.
Teaching is a selfless act that you can practice daily. After all, you don’t need to teach someone something grand or complicated to attract good karma. All you need to do is pass along something positive to another person, empowering them to do the same. As with many karmic activities, teaching creates a chain of positivity that can have a dramatic effect on the world.
Forgive Someone From Your Past
We all have people who have wronged us, some very deeply. Though we may claim to have “forgiven and forgotten,” often these actions and the hurt they cause live on in our subconscious for years or even decades. This negative energy can have an enormous impact on our daily lives and how we treat people, even if we don’t realize it. The secret to getting rid of it? Forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a powerful tool for righting mental wrongs and drawing in good karma. Best of all, it can be practiced by anyone as frequently as they’d like. All you need to do is think of someone in your past and call them to say that you forgive them. There will also be new incidents (large and small) in which people will do us wrong. Forgive quickly and honestly, and they can never do any harm.
Give Away a Valuable Possession
Think of all the stories in which a rich person discovers the joy of giving and never looks back? As touching as they are, why is giving only for those who have the most to give? In truth, many people consider the more powerful gift to be the one that comes from someone who has less or a person who gives away something of high value without a second thought.
One of the biggest things holding us all back from karmic enlightenment is our attachment to things. Many of us collect objects or some sort, hoarding them regardless of their ability to make other people happier than they make us. Giving away something valuable is an excellent way to make a positive karmic statement, and will spread job beyond what you could imagine.
Don’t Expect a Reward
One thing you have to get out of your mind as you perform good deeds, help others, and teach those around you is the idea that you’ll receive a reward. Sure, we know that karma itself is a reward that we attain later, but that should be the motivation for why you do what you do. Finding a very “zen” approach to life means forgoing rewards, earthly or otherwise, in exchange for the joy of doing good.
It may take a little while, but after enough time practicing the techniques on this list, you’ll begin to feel more in touch with the world. You won’t see rewards as “rewards,” per se, but as just a reaction to the action that you started days, months, or years ago. The sooner you reach this state, the sooner you will be able to let go of the physical and embrace the joys of living karmically.
Seek Out the Old, the Unappreciated, and the Sick
Loving the world means seeking out those who the majority of the world has forgotten. In many cases, these include the elderly, unappreciated people, and those who are suffering from various diseases or sicknesses. In many ways, these people need the most help (and the most love) and benefit the most from what you can offer them.
Try volunteering at a soup kitchen or an old folk’s home. Teach at an inner-city school or tutor people in developing nations. You can also volunteer for trips to foreign countries where you can build schools or homes, or clean up after a natural disaster. It doesn’t matter what you do, but you will find huge karmic rewards in showing love to the unfortunate.
Love the Earth
Earth is our home, and we only have one. However, one of the byproducts of Western society’s rapid growth has been a simultaneously rapid decline in how we treat our planet. From wasteful packaging to overfishing and hunting to litter, humanity is on a path toward destroying the very world that keeps alive, feeds us, and protects us.
One of the things you can do to develop good karma rapidly is to treat the world around you with more respect. Accomplishing this doesn’t just mean being less wasteful, cleaning up litter, and recycling, but it also means spending more time with nature. Take a walk in the woods or a park and encourage others to do the same. Grow your appreciation for the Earth, and the Earth will love you back.
Learn to Relax (and Love it)
Along with meditation, learning to relax properly is essential to building good karma. Our modern lives are full of hustle and bustle, with all of us trying very hard to keep up with those we deem to be successful. However, time and time again, it is the people who lead simple lives that prove to be the happiest. Emulating them will not only make you more contented but help your spread contentment as well.
Accomplishing this means learning to relax and allow the world to pass you by at times. It is challenging for many of us to keep up with what we imagine to be “successful,” but it is effortless to change your definition of that word. Try to define success as a life of simple pleasures, the giving of gifts, and the loving of others, and you will find yourself much happier overall.
Love Without Rules
One of the most significant changes you can make to the way that you perceive the world is to change your concept of love. Love is best when there are no rules, no preconceived notions, and no expectations that you will receive it in return. Of course, we’re not talking about romantic love (though that can be a component), but a joyful appreciation for all things and people.
When you love without rules, you are showing the world that your compassion and respect for the nature of life will not falter. You love in the face of tragedy and loss. You love in the face of hurtful words and actions. Though it may be one of the hardest things to do on this list, successfully learning to love unconditionally will have a huge impact on your life.
Consider Going Vegetarian (Even if it’s Just for a Short Time)
It’s true that many people who develop a karmic way of looking at things eventually pursue vegetarianism or veganism. In many ways, this is expected, especially when you consider how karmic thinking increases your appreciation for living things. However, this is by no means an essential part of living a karmic life, as many Buddhists prove every day.
That said, there is a considerable benefit to considering “meat fasting” from time to time. This means acknowledging that animals are part of our life cycle (as food), and setting aside designated times in which you do not eat them. This could be for a week, a month, or even a day or two. It’s a matter of pure reverence and acknowledgment, but it can do a lot for your appreciation of the world.
As you can see, there are many ways that we can cultivate good karma in our daily lives. From how we look at the world to how we act, there are endless paths toward enlightenment and simple, happier life. As you consider which of these techniques you’d like to pursue, understand that the goal is not to make your life better, but to make the world a better place.
With karma, the beauty you put into the world is always coming back to you in unexpected ways.