Karma. I learned about it a long time ago when I was in college from a co-worker who, when I told her I had been let go from my job after refusing my boss’s inappropriate sexual advances said of him, “what goes around, comes around.” I thought those words were the most brilliant thing I’d ever heard, and they have been my personal motto ever since. Back then I had just a vague idea of what karma meant, but I knew that there was an essential and genuine truth to what my friend had said – and it has been proven to me time and time again.
We all know how it works. If you do something good, something good will come back to you. By being a good friend and expressing concern about a problem or genuine happiness for someone else’s success, you are not only doing good for your friend, but you are giving yourself a moment of goodness, also. Conversely, doing something bad will bring bad things to your life. This is what keeps all of us from committing terrible acts, both big and small. It’s why you don’t take the tip left lying on the table at the restaurant. It’s why you don’t poison the neighbor’s dog that barks incessantly. It’s the fundamental reason why like attracts like – it’s difficult to be with others whose values are dramatically different from yours. Inside of us we sense the difference between good and bad in our core, and it keeps us from doing the horrible things we think of doing every so often – but on a more positive note, it spurs us to do good things for each other, too.
It’s not easy to teach this concept to children – it must be experienced for it to mean much of anything. I started telling my children about my personal motto when they were very young, long before they understood what I meant – and would point out any example of karma, both good and bad, whenever we encountered it in our lives. They began to see it too, and would come to me with their personal stories of karma, both their own and that of others they knew. I am pleased and proud to say that my children have both embraced this concept wholeheartedly, and appear to have integrated this motto into their lives, just as I did.
Karma is out there, waiting for us to act, waiting to pay it back in whatever way is appropriate. Watch, wait, and see. It will go around, and come around. And you will know.
Originally published April 12, 2012