Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Toolbox Tuesday: Karma Code
The idea of doing unto others as you would have others do unto you has been around for quite some time. It spans every religion and every culture across the world. Yet somehow we still manage to miss this one...
As some of you may know, one of my close friends lost her engagement ring this past weekend. We're not entirely sure how it came off of her finger, but somehow she dropped it at a restaurant. And someone, instead of handing in something that they surely understood had sentimental value to another, found it and kept it for themselves.
Two things happened here. One: Someone who might be good enough not to steal the ring noticed but didn't do anything about it. Two: Someone noticed it and stole it.
Notice what didn't happen? No one cared enough to pick up the ring and bring it to management. This got me thinking. This whole "copping out half-way to being a good person" thing happens a lot. People won't help a stranger in need. Why? What's stopping us? Are we lazy? Scared? Do we intuit that there is nothing in it for us if we do help? A little bit of everything? Basically we say, "I'm not bad so I'm not going to take the ring." But we don't think to expend our energy enough to save the ring from being stolen. We say, "It's not my problem" or we don't want to be accused of stealing the ring if someone sees us pick it up.
Let's face it. Humans are, by definition, selfish. We have to program ourselves to be selfless and self-sacrificing. Even then it has been a matter of philosophical debate as to whether we even help people out of a selfish need.
Why do you help people?
"Because it feels good."
Oh, so it's about you feeling good.
Why do you help people?
"Because I'd want someone to do it for me."
Oh, so it's about you again... More specifically, this particular one is about you hoping that you can be an example to society or perhaps gain some kind of "Get Out of Jail Free" card for being a good person.
Or, as I like to call it, you're building up good Karma.
Which brings me to today's Tool: The Karma Code!
We should all have one in our Writer's Toolbox and we should live by it for the rest of our lives. All it is is a simple promise to one's self to do whatever you can to help another. In return, positive energy will come back and help you. It's the basic idea that what you put in is what you get out.
What's this all about? The Buddhists believe Karma stretches over lifetimes and has an impact on what you will be and do in the next life. If you are bad you will have a worse life when you are reincarnated. If you are good, you will have a good life. Eventually, when you've risen high enough on the karma food-chain, you reach Nirvana (the ultimate goal and Enlightenment). (This is a very simplified version which, in this context, actually goes against the teachings of Buddhist because I'm advocating the use of Karmic theory in an effort for personal gain).
I know what you're thinking: "I'm not a Buddhist. I don't even believe in Heaven, for goodness sake! How does Karma help me as a writer?"
Let's be New Agey here and say that Karma is simply energy. Good Karma is positive energy and Bad Karma is negative energy. Like attracts like. You conduct negative energy, you'll get negative energy. Which means Bad Karma attracts Bad Karma. And Good attracts Good.
And how does that relate to the here and now? Well, not all that good karma can go into your next life, can it? Some of the positive energy has to impact you here in this life. What better place than in that call from an agent who wants to represent your manuscript, or an editor who wants to buy your novel, or in reaching 10k followers on Twitter, or getting that fat check from Amazon in the mail?
So, next time you're feeling like not following another author on Twitter, or ignoring a fan at a conference, or not helping someone who has dropped their papers in the elevator. Just remember: "This could be the little push I need to get what I want." No one is going to punish you for thinking about how you're going to benefit from something, especially if others benefit as well.
Alternately, try your best to keep your attitude up at all times. The idea of Karma stretches beyond actions. Thinking good, positive things will attract more positive energy your way!
So, try your best to integrate doing the absolute good by another that you can. It WILL come back to you in the end!