Why Positive Thinking Doesn’t Change Our Karma

I used to believe that if I struggled in any way, that it must be karma. And, if I wanted to have a great life I had to be super positive, and super nice, even when I didn’t feel like it.

So I’d be super nice, upbeat, positive, optimistic, and say yes to helping out (a lot) and still nothing would change!

Ernest Holmes, the founder of the Science of Mind, explains that Karma isn’t a system for punishment. Rather, “Karmic Law is the use that man makes of his mentality. It’s not inevitable retribution. At any time we can change our thinking and set in motion…” a new experience. 

Karma is about why we make the choices we make.

If a friend asks you for help painting their kitchen, and you say yes, why did you say yes?

Was it because you are excited for your friend to finally get to fix up their kitchen? They’ve been talking about it for a while, and you’ve gotten to be involved in the process, so helping paint is the next natural extension of you getting to help your friend?

Or was it because you feel like you have to, otherwise your friend will be mad?

The difference here is get to vs. have to

When you get to do something, you do life with vibrant, enthusiastic energy.

When you have to do something, you do life with resentment, or obligation, or victimization energy.

Either way – why you choose to do anything directly influences how you experience that next thing you do.

We develop mental tendencies based on how we choose most of the time. They become unconscious programs driving our thoughts and choices. So, if someone feels obligation in the things they do in their life, after a while, it seems like everything feels like obligation, and like they never get a break. 

So to clear karmic tendencies, shifting our attitude is not enough. Really, if you sat here long enough, even if you were grumpy you could think happy thoughts and eventually not be grumpy anymore. 

However, Karma clearing comes when we make new choices so we show up in our lives in a new way.

So if you really don’t want to help your friend paint their kitchen, shifting your attitude is possible (but not necessarily helpful) – I’m grateful to have a friend, and they do do a lot of nice things for me, this isn’t really a big deal, I should just help them paint.

But did that shift in attitude make you suddenly want to help them (yay – I get to help), or did you still really not want to help paint (man, I have to help paint)? Sometimes shifting our attitude into fake positive thinking just helps us justify why we aren’t being authentic and honest with ourselves and others.

Right thinking and right action mean two things:

Being honest with yourself (I really don’t want to paint a kitchen)
and your friend (no thanks, it’s too much physical work for me). 

And then choosing in a way that aligns with that truth.