Karma, as a spiritual concept derived from ancient Hindu, is often misunderstood and distorted by the new age community and others in the West. So let's begin by first debunking what karma is not.
It is not punishment per se, although it is the logical consequence that follows from thoughts and deeds. It is not necessarily negative, although it can be harsh and seemingly undeserved if the causal action or hurtful speech occurred so long ago, or even in a past life, that the conscious mind has forgotten the seed that became the bitter fruit.
By the way, as far as I have been able to research, the concept of karma does not have an identifying symbol associated with it. However, because of the potential for being either positive or negative, perhaps what is called the yin /yang or Tao symbol as shown above can illustrate this intent.
Karma has a specific purpose -- to help us in the evolution of the soul's journey. In essence, karma works like lessons for the soul, intended to help us correct, end, or release what does not benefit the soul's progress.
Some Pagan spiritualities have a concept that everything you do returns to you three-fold, both the good and the bad. This is karma, although the multiplication factor is not an original Hindu idea.
Our life choices, our attitudes, the quality of our interactions with others all shape our karma and contribute to the soul's growth. When consciousness is spiritually aware (as opposed to religiously attached), we may see the potential consequences that we could be creating for ourselves when we act out of frustration, anger, or fear. Seeing and redirecting thoughts and acts can prevent negative karma associated with that occurrence from coming along later to whop us upside the head.
It is this spiritual awareness that can lead us towards patience, tolerance, forgiveness and trust -- karmic seeds that would bring positive benefits at some unexpected time or in a future life. In a real sense, when we allow such spiritual awareness to guide our thoughts and actions, we create and even bank a positive energy that can surround, suffuse, and emanate from us.
But it's important to disconnect from the idea of "accumulating karmic brownie points" from good behavior and loving speech, as if we're in some kind of contest. This is not the point of the karmic dynamic.
The point is to develop the soul to make growthful choices as our default position -- unconsciously, because doing so is the natural and unavoidable urge of the soul.
Think of it this way perhaps -- you know there are the 4 elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Each element can be a positive /growthful /nurturing force, or it can be a negative /destructive /life-denying force.
Likewise, soul karma is a 5th element, with positive and negative potential.