You’re rushing from appointment to appointment, never pausing to breathe or reflect on why you’re so tired and so busy. In traffic, somebody cuts you off and you lay on your horn, provoking them to shake their fist at you. Another driver tries to merge into traffic ahead of you, but you block them because according to your phone, you’re already five minutes late. Then your phone starts ringing.
Yep, it’s one of those days.
Unfortunately, thanks to the pace of modern life, these kinds of days are more and more common. Go to any self-help website and you’ll get the usual advice: find ways to de-stress, say no to obligations more often, and of course the advice du jour: try to be mindful.
In the above scenario, being mindful or “present in the moment,” as it’s often described, might keep you from having a rage attack on the highway, but would it have any long-reaching effects? Probably not. However, what if you had acted differently in that crucial moment? Rather than honking your horn in anger, what if you had simply let the slight go?
Practicing good karma
Stronger still: what if you had that nasty exchange with the first driver but then let the second driver ahead of you, making the conscious decision to act with kindness? That’s called practicing good karma, and it’s the cornerstone of living more soulfully.
In his book Soulfulness: Deepening the Mindful Life, author Brian Draper explores the link between good karma and soulfulness. He writes, “It’s a space, I believe, in which we can discover more of our uniqueness and express this lovingly and purposefully through our actions.”
As karma is literally the Sanskrit word for “action, word or deed,” it’s easy to see the strong connection between the two concepts. Whereas living more mindfully involves ridding one’s head of anxiety and distraction, living soulfully is about connecting with emotion and the emotions of other people, ideally creating a better environment for all of us.
Responding to negativity with positivity
When we become better acquainted with our own soul, it’s easier to reach out to the souls of others. We exist on a higher plane if we practice good karma and become something bigger than just ourselves. It’s not always easy to answer another’s negativity with positivity (referring again to the traffic example), but the law of karma dictates that when we do, that kindness will eventually be returned to us. If we do something nice for another person, we are implicitly inviting others to do something nice for us.
Attempts at mindfulness in a stressful world are admirable, but inherently selfish when you compare them to trying to live more soulfully. Mindfulness meditation empties our individual minds of worry and noise. But if we meditate on the soul, we are connecting to others, affecting change outside of our own realm of experience.
Small acts of kindness
So let the driver into your lane. It might cost you twenty extra seconds, but hold the door for the harried mother trying to manoeuvre her baby carriage without dropping her groceries. When you see a stranger scowling while he tries to remove spilled coffee from his shirt, offer him a napkin and a smile.
Practicing good karma is free, invites more positivity in your life, and helps you live more soulfully.