how to succeed

3 Ways to Run Your Life More Skillfully

Meet Jake.

Jake is going to teach you about a timeless law that will forever change the way that you see the world and your place in it. He is going to help you build stronger relationships that bring you a lot more happiness and satisfaction in your everyday life.

I met Jake only very recently in the Marquis of Granby, a pub on Shaftesbury Avenue. It was a quiet afternoon, it must have been around 4.30pm. You can probably picture it now; a few dozy drinkers scattered around a mostly deserted bar. Dust specks sparkling in the hazy sunshine, the gentle murmur of a television set fixed high up on the wall.

None of us knew what was coming next. In off the street came Jake, a figure of pure chaos. In he came, all broken and greasy with menace for eyes, crashing like a pinball into anything in his way. Jake was bloodied around the nose, his hair was twisted and ratty and you could see his hands had the kind of grime on them that is almost beneath the skin.

As he barged in, the dusty air swirled in protest and the doors rattled in distress. He lurched in and began ranting and babbling. People shrank away and raised their defenses; this was someone we all wanted to avoid. He was looking around, wanting to lock eyes onto someone, yet we all, as one, hardened, hoping to cold shoulder him away and not give him any possible foothold in our cosy sanctuary.

Can you imagine how we felt?

We were prepared to do anything to get rid of this invader.

We felt uneasy and unsafe, and had decided that Jake didn’t belong.

He stumbled into a few tables; he had needs and requests but no-one was listening. The bar staff grew annoyed and sent out a heavy to meet him head-on and return him sprawling into the thick anonymity of the London streets. We breathed relief and returned to our drinks and our football.

I quickly found I couldn’t concentrate on my drink anymore, I wanted to know how a life could be lived like that and how close we all were to being in that place. A place where there is fear in people’s eyes when you look at them, where people turn away from you in mistrust. A lonely place of anger and violence.

I realized that Jake was creating this experience himself and that the exact governing principle in play applies to all of us. This unfailing law is called Karma.

However, when you apply this law consciously to your life you can take charge of the results you get and be better equipped to handle life’s difficulties. Don’t be put off by any misconceptions you might have of this law, it is a practical and effective strategy for living more skillfully. The three steps below are karma in-a-nutshell and a good place to start.

1. Know that the world is a mirror and it reflects back to you what you send out.

Otherwise known as the law of cause and effect and summed up nicely by thinking about how every action that you send out into the world triggers a series of effects or consequences that are your responsibility. Have you ever been told that you are an amazing person? If you have it is because you are making people feel special, or cared for, or loved in some way. This is feedback from the universe and it reflects exactly what you are sending out.

2. Understand that you control your reality.

All too often we feel powerless in the world as if we are being buffeted from one circumstance to the next. This is reactive living and it is often accompanied by a feeling of lack of control over your life. The truth is that you if you want to feel in control then you need to take control; it happens by accepting that your life happens from within and not without. Do people tend to smile at you throughout the day? If not, start smiling at others first, you will immediately notice a change. Complete strangers will brighten and soften to you, and little things will start falling into place in ever so subtle ways.

 3.  Remember that you always have a choice.

Even if you find yourself in Jake’s position or if you feel that you have always been a certain kind of person, treated in a certain kind of way, there is still always a choice about what you do next. The past has brought you to this point but it does not have to define you. Take responsibility for the future unfolding in front of you and know that the choices you make will determine the direction it takes.

Karma is like your own 24 hour bank balance of cause and effect that you carry around with you everywhere. Everything you have ever thought, done, felt, or said is deposited here and the sum of these shapes who you are and how you feel right at this very moment.

Karma is a deep and complex web, one so entangled that most of the time you can’t possibly know or even follow it’s effects. All you can be sure to do is take responsibility for everything in your past, present, and future. Jake is seeing the results of the karma in his life. Unfortunately, because it tends to repeat itself and get stronger with time he finds that his expectations of a hostile world results in one that does indeed get more unfriendly every day.

By becoming aware of what you send out into the world, by taking control of your reality, and by understanding the power of your choices you will find positive changes taking place. Connection to others will become easier, opportunities will appear as you take control of your reality, and life will flow much more smoothly as you make choices that are in line with your higher self.


Craig Coggle is a musician, meditator, and writer of ‘Meditation for the Modern Mind’. You can read more about karma and other awesome tools for skillful living at his blog


14 Responses to 3 Ways to Run Your Life More Skillfully

  1. Kirsten says:

    Great post Craig – got me thinking about some of the issues I am having and why they are there.

    The universe is certainly a mirror for your soul. I believe that if you focus on what is right and working in your life, you’ll be in a ‘good’ place emotionally, so you’re more likely to behave in a way that adds value to those around you, and then they react to the value you are giving and give back to you….. it’s this value cycle as opposed to the vicious cycle that is so worthwhile getting into….


  2. Natalie says:

    Great insights and nicely presented. It really gets you thinking.

    With Karma, as with beliefs, you create your life.  Jake probably believes that everyone is against him, so he acts as if everyone is against him. Which, in turn, makes everyone avoid him. Which then reinforces his belief in an endless cycle.  If he could believe that people are kind and caring, he would be friendly and those around him would be friendly in return.

  3. Lori says:

    This is a great post!!  I’m really trying to live more “skillfully” but find myslef getting off track – really off track – but I’m working on it.

  4. art essays says:

    You got very good points! There is not so much people who can think the same way as you. 

  5. Craig Coggle says:

    Thanks for your comment Kirsten. I agree; focusing on what is right will always have positive consequences because of what you add to the world around you. 
    And what a great way to put it: ‘value cycle’ rather than ‘vicious cycle’.

  6. i thought this post was excellent

  7. i thought this post was excellent

  8. Steve H. says:

    I think it can be dangerous claiming we control our reality and that whatever we get is mirroring what we put out. If that is true, what would it say about people who are abused or hurt by others? That they are controlling that and causing it by what they put out? What about children who are mistreated?

    I think it’s a lovely sentiment that we control everything, but I think if you think about it it has some implications that are not as beautiful as it seems.

  9. Love the post Craig. Excellent writing and really good strong message of importance to anyone interested in personal development.

  10. TIM says:

    Very interesting and useful and advice about Karma.  Point number 2 is so true yet it is so difficult to put it into practice.  I think not feeling in control of one’s life eventually causes mental problems. I do feel like this most of the times especially when life circumstances are so intolerable. I will follow your advice though.  I appreciate your teachings about karma and how it applies to my life.

  11. Catherine of Croydon says:

    Thanks Craig – You write beautifully and the first half of the piece was wonderfully and movingly rendered. 

    But….I just arrived at my university listening to an interview (in the car) with the woman whose eyes were gouged out in the DV case going to appeal this week. I then went into a meeting discussion on radical social work and our working relationship with people at the lower end of the economic scale, where we are reflecting on professional alternatives to demonising people and blaming them for their poverty and problems. 

    This particular take on Karma is a very problematic one therefore for me as, far from bringing a sense of oneness, it seems the ultimate in individualised approaches to the world. I know that is not a popular view with neoliberal middle class well meaning folk on their own individual journeys of growth. I too have no wish to divert people from taking responsibility and time for reflection on their own power and choices. 

    Still, my disquiet remains……

  12. Suzanne says:

    Great post and so true. Karma can also be reversed too. Those people who we all wait for Karma to rear it’s head on because they are so horrible to others. If those people choose a different life, understand their wrongdoings and make a difference, they will not reap the effects any longer. Much the same as your story, choose different, and the results will be different. It’s all in the choice.

  13. Suzanne says:

    Great post and so true. Karma can also be reversed too. Those people who we all wait for Karma to rear it’s head on because they are so horrible to others. If those people choose a different life, understand their wrongdoings and make a difference, they will not reap the effects any longer. Much the same as your story, choose different, and the results will be different. It’s all in the choice.

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