“Everything happens for a reason.”
When something bad happens, someone will often try to console us by saying, “It happened for a reason.” This is a loaded phrase that implies that whatever negative thing just happened is fine because the reason for it will become clear somewhere along the way and we will be better off in some way as a result.
Is this, however, correct? Do certain things happen for reasons unknown to us, based on a kind of beneficial fate? I’ve talked about it with family and other travelers, and my opinion on whether things happen for a reason is now crystal clear to me.
What about the negative aspects?
My initial objection to this concept was based on the truly heinous aspects of it. Sure, if someone lost their job, they might realize how much they disliked it and then find a much better job in another field… the initial loss of the job could be seen as ‘for a reason’… but what about the really bad things, the ones that don’t have a happy ending? What about when a loved one dies, becomes an alcoholic, loses their job, is abandoned by their friends, becomes homeless, and eventually dies? What could have been the reason for this?
Clearly, the ‘beneficial reason‘ for things happening is not something that will reveal itself in the future, or else the homeless man would have become homeless for a reason and found some sort of future lesson or happiness from it.
I couldn’t accept that this was the homeless man’s fate, either. That everything was for a reason and beyond his control. That it was ‘his purpose’ to come here and endure this agony until death. There was something that was missing.
We are not subject to fate.
Can you simply say you didn’t get the job because you didn’t prepare well enough for the interview? “Oh well, everything happens for a reason.”
If you don’t pursue your dreams, stick with a job you despise, let your marriage fall apart, and wake up every day hating your life, did it all happen for a divine reason? Can you claim it was beyond your control?
In life, actions have consequences, and inaction has consequences as well. It would be foolish to declare that everything that happens in your life is ‘for a reason’ when you have control over it. If you had the ability to change the outcome of something, you cannot blame the outcome on fate.
However, I believe that our lives may be guided by fate in regards to things over which we have no control. I believe that there are certain lessons we are meant to learn and experiences we are meant to have in life. I’ve seen before how a long string of rare coincidences that defy the odds can change the course of people’s lives.
For example, my decision to create this website was influenced by my boredom in this Pandemic “crazy times” If none of the coincidences had occurred, I would have been working on other projects and this website would not have existed. I believe that because these events had such a low probability of occurring naturally, they must have happened for a reason, guiding my life down the path it was supposed to take.
But what about all the things we can control, aside from random acts of fate? “Everything happens for a reason,” as the quote goes, so what about everything else?
We choose the reason.
I now believe that everything happens for a reason, but the key is to discover the meaning of the events for yourself.
When bad things happen, I believe it is to teach us something valuable.
When we fail in one area of our lives, we learn from it and apply what we’ve learned to achieve even greater success in another.
When something is taken away from us, it is done to motivate us to find something better.
When we are beaten down, it is to teach us how to persevere and grow stronger than we were before.
I believe that the world will continue to throw lessons at people in the form of hardships or loss until they figure out why it is happening and then learn and grow from the experience. Once you’ve learned the lesson, the path opens up and the difficulties in that area of your life vanish.
Finding meaning in events allows us to make something good out of a bad situation. Returning to the homeless man’s example, the reason he could have found for the loss of his loved one could have been to redirect his life toward helping others. Perhaps it inspired him to work as a grief counselor for children who have lost loved ones. This could have later led him to find a love greater than he could have imagined in someone else.
Everything happens for a reason, but the reason is determined by us. Some aspects of our lives may be guided by fate, but the reasons we derive from everything that happens are entirely within our control. Find reasons foreverything that happens in your life, good or bad, and within every adversity lies the seed of something wonderful.