This article first appeared on SHE'SAID' and has been republished with permission.
I’ve always believed in Karma.
It’s a simple principle of cause and effect, and while Karma’s origins are found in Hinduism and Buddhism, you don’t have to be religious to practice it. I see it more as a ‘justice of the universe’; something that keeps us from being (even more) selfish and ignorant each day.
And I regularly experience proof it exists — especially bad Karma, otherwise known as the shitty things that tend to happen to us when we act like shitty people. Who hasn’t been in a situation where they’ve done something a little rude and experienced it backfiring immediately? Things like noticing too late the cashier overcharged you after you didn’t let that old lady with only one item go in front of you in the queue, or spilling your coffee on your work desk after you didn’t hold open the elevator door for your colleague.
Coincidence? Maybe. But it’s most likely the universe’s way of restoring balance and reminding us of Newton’s infamous third law: for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. (Read: don’t be a crappy human. It’ll always end badly.)
The good news is, as much as the universe has the ability to throw bad things at us, it rewards us with good Karma whenever we go out of our way to do something nice for others. (To flip the above scenario, who hasn’t offered to help carry someone’s groceries or pay for their coffee when they were short and experienced an unexpected happy accident later in the day, like finding a five dollar bill in an old pair of pants or being given an early mark at work?)
As a bonus, random acts of kindness can actually boost our happiness, too. So if you, like me, want to ensure your good Karma far exceeds your bad Karma, here are some small but powerful good deeds you can do every day, starting right now…
1. Stand up on public transport.
Offer a seat to elderly or pregnant people on the bus or train. Don’t wait for others to do it, just stand up and clearly tell them they can have your seat.
2. Feed your colleagues.
Preparing a big batch of chicken salad for your work lunches? Just make a little bit more and surprise your work BFF with a free lunch the next day.
3. Pick up the phone.
When was the last time you called someone to wish them a happy birthday or good luck for a job interview instead of just texting them? A phone call is so much more personal and shows you’ve made time to have a proper chat.
4. Do a First Aid course.
Instead of relying on others to know what to do in the case of an emergency, be prepared and complete a First Aid course – it could save someone’s life.
5. Tell the truth.
Sometimes, we tend to agree with everything our friends say, even when we know they’re about to make a bad decision, just to avoid conflict. As an experiment, try telling the truth for a week and actually being authentic with your friend when she asks her if you think her new boyfriend is good for her or she should splurge on that ASOS dress she can’t actually afford. She’ll thank you for your honesty in the long run, and your friendship will be deeper for it.
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6. Share the discount.
Found an amazing discount code for your fave online shop? Share the joy and ask your friends if they want to add some items to your order, which will save you on shipping costs as well. It’s really a win-win situation.
7. Donate old clothes.
When was the last time you cleaned out your closet? Chances are you’ll find many pieces you don’t wear anymore, but someone else might appreciate. Instead of letting them collect dust, give them to a friend or donate them to a charity.
8. Show interest.
Instead of just asking “how are you?” when talking to colleagues, friends, or family, ask more specific questions about their lives to show you really care, and then really listen to their responses to show you’re not just making meaningless small talk.
9. Help the homeless.
You’re not expected to give every homeless person you pass money, but how about giving them a sandwich or a cup of coffee every now and then? Chances are it will make their day.
10. Notice the small things.
Giving compliments can be just as rewarding as receiving them, so make a special effort to comment on things that may be overlooked by others. Did your colleague deliver a great presentation? Tell them. Did your partner cook a nice dinner? Let them know you loved it.
11. Say “thank you.”
Show gratitude for the small things people do for you, even if it’s their job. Whether it’s the bus driver, a cashier, or a receptionist, thank them with a genuine smile for serving you. Saying “thank you” is one of the most powerful acts you can do, and it’s incredibly simple, and free!
12. Help your neighbors.
Do you know your neighbor’s name? If the answer is no, it’s time to knock on their door and introduce yourself. Let them know you’re happy to water their plants/feed their cat/collect their mail whenever they’re out of town. You’ll probably be rewarded with instant Karma in the form of them offering the same to you.
13. Plant a tree.
Metaphorically speaking, this means do something good for the environment; you don’t have to literally plant something. Simply separating your garbage from your recycling, taking your own reusable cup to the coffee shop, or offering to volunteer at your community garden can make a small but powerful impact on the planet.
14. Stop gossiping.
Yes, gossiping is fun, but if you talk behind someone’s back, rest assured someone else will do the same to you. Try to not encourage gossip by staying out of conversations that involve rumors or talk about others that breeds negative thinking, which isn’t emotionally healthy for you or the person you’re talking about, who will inevitably find out about what you had to say about them. Try this as an experiment instead; say good things directly to the people you struggle most to get along with. Research has shown that simply changing the way we speak to someone can actually shift the way we think about them; so that foe may end up becoming a friend.
Images via pexels.com and giphy.com.