How Karma Plays a Role in Your Life (and Driving Fears)

5519665919_42e046218f_bKarma is what you blame when you get a rip in your pantyhose or, for you guys out there, perhaps nick your face while shaving. In fact, it’s something many of us blame for just about anything that goes wrong. “What goes around comes around,” or “You reap what you sow,” are two cliché ways of putting it. While some may dismiss karma as some kind of hocus pocus or hooey, research on karma shows it may indeed be very real, very alive and play an ongoing role in your life. Heck, you can even blame karma for your driving fears but, as we’ll note later, the blame game may not do you much good.

What It Is

The literal translation of the word “karma” is “activity,” Columbia University’s Hindu chaplain Gadadhara Pandit Dasa tells us. Under the tenets of karma, every little thing you say or do plays a role in what’s going to happen to you sometime in the future. Karma doesn’t have a due date and can stick with your soul eternally, regardless of how many reincarnations you may undergo (provided you believe in reincarnations).

Karma comes in different flavors:

  • Good karma: Positive energy that initially originates from positive activity
  • Bad karma: Negative energy that initially originates from negative activity
  • Individual karma: Karma that affects a single person originating from the individual’s activity
  • Collective karma:  Karma that affects a group as a whole originated from the group’s collective activity

So think twice before you hop on any negative bandwagon, as a big wave of karma can eventually come back to topple that entire bandwagon and everyone on it.

Karma Research

Good karma makes for good business

When you do good things for other people, karma dictates good things will then happen to you. The same rule applies to businesses, as evidenced by a study by author Adam Grant that looked at college campus call center workers. When workers raising money for scholarships heard how their past efforts had improved people’s lives, they ended up bringing in 171 percent more funds each week going forward.

Good karma makes for clean hands 

Another study, this one by Grant and David Hofmann, found how changing a single word on a sign by a soap machine affected the amount of soap and hand-sanitizer doctors and nurses used when washing up. When the sign said “hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases,” the hand-washers used 45 percent more soap and hand gel. When the sign said “hand hygiene prevents you from catching diseases,” no increase in soap or gel was noted.

Three People Types

Obviously the docs and nurses in the second study were of the giving type, one of three types Grant points out in his book “Give and Take.”

  • Givers give and then give some more with no strings attached
  • Takers try to gobble up as much as they can from others without giving much back
  • Matchers fall into the middle ground, maintaining a balance of giving and taking

While givers may seem like they’d be karma-happy for sure, there are a couple of caveats. Givers must be careful not to give until it hurts – or kills off their own chances of success.

“Selfless givers tend to fail, as they struggle to set boundaries,” Grant told the American Psychological Association’s publication Monitor on Psychology. “They put other people ahead of themselves almost all of the time and they’re willing to drop their individual goals and ambitions and productivity for others.”

Givers must be extremely cognizant and careful about who they help and what kind of help they give. Grant, who pegs himself a giver, found he had more positive results when he was super-selective with his giving. You don’t want all your giving being siphoned off by takers who never play it forward to keep the steady stream of good things flowing.

Another notable note, especially if you are hiring people or otherwise creating a group, is that takers can take the life out of everyone around them. Grant recommends employers especially pay attention to the type of people they hire. Stocking the roster with loads of givers may not be enough to combat a few takers who act as the proverbial rotten apples that can spoil the whole bunch.

Where Karma Fits in with Your Driving Fears

You can indeed blame karma for your driving fears if you can pinpoint no other obvious origin or, frankly, just feel like blaming it. But that doesn’t magically make your driving fears disappear. Since karma sticks with your soul for eternity, the driving fear karma could technically be coming from some past life that you don’t even remember. Perhaps you helped invent the wheel way back when and used to torture people with it. While the example sounds a bit ridiculous, the idea of karma is not when you realize even if it won’t explain your fears, it can help you alleviate them.

Using the rule of karma, you can expect good things to happen to you if you do good unto others. Paying attention to everything you say and do in the here and now is an ideal place to start. You may also find that extending your hand to help others overcome their own struggles may result in someone doing the same for you and your driving phobia. Or you may simply start to feel better about yourself, a state that always seems to help quash anxiety and fears of any sort.

Give it a whirl and see what happens. You may be surprised at the positive results or, at the very least, be helping to negate any built-up negative karma that’s been sticking around since you first came up with the wheel.


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