The Deceptively Simple Sentence That Helped Me Radiate Perfect Karma

How I’ve become altruistic — without sacrificing my time, priorities, energy, or money.

Simple man, simple life Rido | Canva, jr korpa | Unsplash

“It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary; only wise men are able to understand them.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Recently, one such simple sentence revealed its extraordinary glory. A sentence we’ve all heard in some shape or form. A saying easy to dismiss as a feel-good cliche. A string of simple, innocent words. But so deep are its implications that it’s now my life’s guiding light.


It goes: Leave Every Thing, Person, and Place Better than You Found Them

Let’s dissect it part by part to understand its hidden nuances:

  • “Leave Every” — alludes to Buddha’s Law Of Impermanence Aniccā. Nude at birth to bones in death, we leave everything — and everything leaves us. But this “gloomy” truth has a positive underbelly — that we’ll explore.
  • “Every Thing, Person, and Place (TP&P) Better” — implies unconditional “on-the-fly” altruism. Implicit is a simple strategy (I’ll share) for effective altruism without self-sacrifice.
  • “Than You Found Them” — aka serendipitous “non-commital” help. This is more realistic, sustainable, and effective than “out of your way” altruism — we’ll soon see why.

P.S. For the sake of brevity, we’ll henceforth use the acronym “TP&P” to refer to “Thing, Person, and Place.”


Each part has further nuances and practical implications — that the rest of this article will flesh out. I’ll also share nine actionable ways to implement them in your daily life. This isn’t about world-changing activism or self-sacrificing altruism … This is realistic “selfless-improvement” that puts your own “self-improvement” on steroids. In a self-exemplar way, this article will strive to “leave you better than it found you.” 



RELATED: 10 Easy Ways To Become A Better Version Of Yourself

The paradoxical positive power of 'Leave Every'

“Isn’t Buddha’s Aniccā depressing and nihilistic in a way?" I’d asked my Vipassana teacher.


The next evening, I experienced the answer. As the motionless meditation of Adhiṭṭhāna was underway, my knees screamed in pain. Staying equanimous, I observed the sensations. I saw how impermanent they were — rising and passing with blurring rapidity. Like a sine wave sped up to be 10000000x faster.

My body, beating heart, and the barking mongrel were all Aniccā! Massive armies of cells dying and regenerating at blinding speeds — our body replaces 3.8 million cells per second! Experiencing this flux drove it home more than any biology class did.

As my meditation and exhilaration ended, a strong unconditional love arose — an urge to serve and treasure every living being. Lasting 40 minutes, that love imprinted insights for a lifetime. Since everything was impermanent, attachment makes no sense. But the same impermanence limits our time and chances to cherish them.

In their impermanence lies every TP&P’s importance! As some wise soul said, “The paradox of impermanence reminds us of life’s fleeting nature, while simultaneously revealing eternal meaning within it.”


Since we’re anyways going to leave every TP&P, might as well leave them better! Might as well create nostalgia and goodwill instead of guilt and regret! This is optimistic nihilism — since everything is “meaningless”, we’re free to find meaning in anything!

Here are 3 actionable ways to develop more positive detachment:

  1. Memento Mori or “Remember that you will die” — Be it a necklace, ring, wallpaper, poster, or tattoo, have a daily reminder of death. This Stoic practice breeds detachment and Aniccā awareness
  2. Retrospective Aniccā — browse through your old photos, chats, and social posts. Every January, do a past-year review. You’ll realize how things have changed — and hence, will continue to change.
  3. Projective Aniccā — for every TP&P you spot/cherish/dislike, visualize a floating timer over their head. Every TP&P has a clock ticking down to zero — it’s all Aniccā. Think Memento Mori — writ large on the world.

RELATED: How To Use The Law Of Detachment To Manifest Success

The simple and effective altruism of 'Every TP&P Better'

One last wall-scrape — and water spurted out in a smooth spray. Unsilting the jet spray in my mom’s washroom took all but 5 minutes — but it’ll save her tens of hours (and inconvenience) in the long run.


That’s the power of “in-situ” good — bettering or helping whatever TP&P you’re with or in the present moment. All it requires is observantness and intent.

Neighbour fumbling for her keys in the dark? Shine your flashlight. Blind person at the crosswalk? Help them cross the road. A homeless man near your breakfast joint? Buy him a meal. Throw creativity into the mix and you get lasting solutions. Gift your neighbor a Glow-In-The-Dark keychain. Equip the blind person with a walking stick. Refer the homeless man to employment options.

In my last Vipassana course, I showed the cooks a better way to slice watermelons. It could reduce cutting time, fruit wastage, and melon-smeared faces for years to come!

The true power of in-situ good becomes clear only when you zoom out:

  • “Tiny goods” compound to great — think the polar opposite of “Death by a thousand paper cuts.”
  • Unbeknownst to you, others will emulate your behavior — fanning out into an army of “tiny goods” — each of which will inspire and fan out again. It’s the Butterfly Effect of Kindness.
  • The resulting ‘Helper’s High’ and good karma will motivate you — to double down on in-situ help and to go “out of your way” to do good.

The best part? Unlike “altruism”, in-situ good doesn’t demand time, money, effort, or self-sacrifice — it only requires Intent and Presence (of mind). Even the busiest and most duty-bound of folks can do in-situ good.

Here are 3 actionable ways to spot and perform “in-situ” good:

  1. Tri-Sense Observation. Instead of music or scrolling Reels on commutes and walks, observe. The diverse sights, sounds, and smells. You’ll be the first in line for in-situ-good — and to sound the alarm if necessary. I like to do open-eyed Anapana meditation.
  2. Build your “Good Samaritan muscles.” The Bystander effect deters us from helping when others are around. To get comfy with “helping in public”, start small — and build your way up. 
  3. Hone your Critical and Creative Eyes. The Critical “What can be better?” eye sees room for betterment in every TP&P. The Creative “How can it be better?” eye gives you ideas to fill that room. Look around your room, then home. Office cubicle. Then, commute. Keep expanding outwards.

RELATED: 5 Altruistic Zodiac Signs Who Put Their Partner First, According To Astrology

The serendipitous power of “Than You Found Them”

“If you want to change the world, start by making your bed.” — US Navy Admiral McRaven

“Set Your House In Perfect Order Before You Criticize The World.” — Jordan Peterson, Rule 6 in 12 Rules For Life

These 2 uber-successful men aren’t mocking altruism and activism. They’re merely highlighting an age-old adage: "You can’t help others without first helping yourself.”


Helping yourself opens up unexpected pathways to help others (and further help yourself).

I lost 50 lbs for a simple bet. My Quora fat-loss posts went viral. The joy of inspiring others led me to self-improvement. Then, writing, coaching, and digital products. Having quit my job, I’m now all-in on serving my audience.

Self-betterment expands your “surface area” of serendipity — leading to more (frequent) chances to do in-situ good. Also, your mere presence becomes in-situ good! Offline and online, your transformation will inspire change in others — by firing up their mirror neurons. This needn’t mean anti-social asceticism till you “make it” — you can keep doing in-situ good in the meantime. But outright activism and altruism? At the cost of your growth, priorities, and goals? When you have bills to pay, duties to attend to, and mouths to feed?


It can be (or lead to) pathological altruism. As Dr. Barbara Oakley says, “Pathological altruism, in the form of an unhealthy focus on others to the detriment of one’s own needs, may underpin some personality disorders. Pathologies of empathy, for example, may trigger depression as well as the burnout seen in healthcare professionals.”

Savior syndrome and hyper-empathy are 2 such disorders. Until (and even after) true altruism ensues, keep doing in-situ good — it’s realistic, rewarding, and sustainable long term. Also, keep pushing your serendipity boundaries — so more TP&P in need of betterment find you.

Here are 3 actionable ways to expand your serendipity surface area:

  1. Interrupt (life) patterns occasionally: While routines “work”, they lock you into rigid patterns. So, jolt them now and then — with unplanned solo dates, aimless walks, and offbeat travel. To quote MBA professor Christian Busch,​“Getting yourself out of fixed patterns will help you both experience and notice potential triggers of serendipity. Even something as small as taking a different route to work or your child’s school could do the trick.”
  2. Understand the LDT formula: Luck = Doing (Good) X Telling (About It). Offline self-improvement and online writing attracted +95% of my life’s serendipity. When the Doing is high, it creates Telling of its own!
  3. Practice and hone Social Flow: Social flow dissolves the line between strangers and friends. It’s all about being warm, empathic, and present wherever you go.

Dear Reader, it’s your turn now. Will you join me in resolving to “Leave every person, place, and thing better than you found them”? Together, we’ll spread butterflies of goodness. We’ll stir up hurricanes of world betterment. We’ll repay our debt to Mother Earth — as Muhammad Ali eloquently put it, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”


May our collective efforts radiate blessings to all beings. May our shared dedication brighten the world. May all beings be happy!

RELATED: How To Become A Better Person & Take On More Responsibility In Your Life

Neeramitra Reddy is a Medium writer, Chief Editor/Columnist for In Fitness And Health, and a columnist for Wholistique.