Random Mother-Fuckin' Acts of Kindness (and thoughts on Karma Yoga)

Yeah, yeah — a bumper sticker said it first, I know.

Anyway, I am stubborn in my belief that the moral basis for all action is our own self-interest. (Also not my words.)

When you strip everything away, all that's left is the most basic human instinct, survival, if not for ourselves then for others.

If that were not so, then why wouldn't all of the miserable people in this world just kill themselves? Sure, some people go that far, but most people choose to cling to life instead. And there are plenty of accounts of people saving themselves from their own sucide attempts, deciding in that final moment that they actually do want to live.

The reason we hold on, I think, is because the alternative (suicide) is not that easy. It's not that easy to perform, literally, and it's even less easy to commit, mentally.

If you're reading this narrative and thinking to yourself, "I've never once even thought about committing suicide," then good for you.

But for the rest of us, we go on because we must go on. That command, that we must live, is not just something that we're taught from a young age, it is an innate condition of the human experience.

So the question to me becomes how do we justify living in our lonely, increasingly disconnected, fake plastic world?

One way, which is not unique dharma, involves practicing random acts of kindness, small gestures that demonstrate love or caring for another person. Some yogis would call this technique Karma Yoga, the yoga of doing or action.

Karma does not mean — literally — that you get out what you put in. Sorry to say to you starry-eyed believers out there, but the universe is not that simple.

Sometimes the best among us suffer the worst atrocities. The murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the loss by Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump, and the victims of every school shooting in the world come to mind.

And my step-dad Ned, too. He was the most genuinely kind person I ever knew. What did a lifetime of good deeds grant him? A painful, unexpected death by cancer.

However, in my own experience, there is still reason to go on. Reason enough to not just move forward with our heads down and our shoulders shrugged, but instead, a reason to leap, jump and skip ahead with our heads high and our spines upright.

That reason (or one of the reasons) is because the best way to be happy is to make other people happy. It is the easiest, most straightforward, almost unbelievably convenient way to improve your perceptive quality of being. All you must do is be a little extra fucking nice every once in a while.

If you go just the tiniest bit out of your way to make someone else feel good, I can say with a 95 percent confidence interval that you will feel better as a result.

If you don't do the whole 'nice' thing, here are some simple ways to start:

1) Leave a phat ass tip here and there for an unsuspecting laborer or server, or anyone at all really. It doesn't have to be a waiter, and it doesn't have to be a large sum of money — just enough that it means something to you. 

2) Help the old person struggling to carry their bags as they walk down the street. Stop being a pussy and letting opportunities to help other people who are plainly in pain pass you by. You will carry those missed opportunities with you to the grave.

3) Pay someone a surprise visit. You'd be surprised at how many people in this world would be absolutely thrilled by the mere presence of your company, even if it's just for a moment.

Last, don't worry if being nice doesn't come naturally. It is not always easy to be kind. Sometimes it is way, way more convenient to be mean. Being nice is also more challenging for those who were not trained to act this way from birth. After all, some of us were told that it's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and the only way to triumph is by looking out for number one.

If you think that's true — that we're all just in it for ourselves — then I'd wager that sometime around your last breath, that moment when you finally realize how insignifigant your own life is, your heart will be filled with regret. So you may want to think again.

Photo by Jose Martinez on Unsplash