“Life is complicated. Remember the good things that you do. Keep thinking about that. Keep building on that and you’ll come to an answer.” – Mychal Judge
I woke up today on the right side of the bed – or at least it felt like it. While most days I start the day on an even keel, I rarely feel or appear outwardly happy when I leave for work. This morning, for reasons unknown to me, everything felt just a little bit better. In contrast, my week had been mediocre and slightly disappointing at best; I definitely couldn’t pin my good mood this morning on some type of external happening.
In trying to explain it to myself (sad but true, I actually was wondering what inspired my content state of mind), I first attributed the weather. It was over 60 degrees in New York today. Any day that I can wear sunglasses and short sleeves, I’m destined to be in better spirits. Blame that seasonal affected disorder, whatever. I’m always calmer and happier when the weather is better.
But it felt good this morning – taking my morning nap on the train, getting an iced caramel macchiato rather than a hot drink at Starbucks and most significantly, not being cold on my walk to work. Even the normal things which really bother me didn’t seem to affect me as they usually do – the guy typing on his Blackberry as he bobbed-and-weaved down the sidewalk on 33rd or the woman who inadvertently blew smoke in my face at a crosswalk.
I was talking to a co-worker this morning and I commented that I was in a really pleasant (yet unexplainable) mood. I was also waiting for the other shoe to drop – for something to stress me out, for something to go wrong, for something to make this much better than average morning go awry.
Lo and behold, my work computer knew how to do it. One thing after another seemed to spiral from that and my mood went south. It wasn’t a bad day; it was definitely an average day by the time it ended, though. It seemed like bad karma.
I don’t know much of anything about karma in the philosophical-spiritual sense. Rather, I think of it in the most simplistic terms that what you put in, you deserve back. When life seems to throw me curveballs or things aren’t going exactly how I want them to, I often think about karma. When I look at my life in a “big picture” sense, there is one thing that I ultimately hope my friends and family believe – that I go out of my way to help people and to make people’s lives easier and/or better. I find it personally rewarding to help people who need me, especially those who are important to me.
I go through phases of trying to attend church more regularly and I’m not always so successful. Each year, my attendance seems to spike around Lent. There is a gospel reading about helping people that always seems to resonate with me, even when I hear it reflected upon, year after year. The essential message is this: help people when other people don’t see you do it. Give money to someone who doesn’t know it came from you. Do something small to brighten someone’s day who needs you, not because you expect something from that person in return.
Which brings me back to the concept of karma (and brings me full circle to my opening quote) …
Although I don’t expect anything in exchange for helping those close to me, I hope that the world thanks me for it – hence, good karma. I liked that quote when I stumbled upon it in a book because it lent clarity to what many of us feel: life is complicated and messy. There are many days when we have no idea where it’s going or the direction it seems to be headed isn’t the one we hoped for.
So what can you do? Just like the quote says. Remember the good things you do. Be a better person and not just because you expect something in exchange. The world may not change, but maybe your attitude will. And hopefully then, you’ll come to an answer.