Everything does happen for a reason. At least we want to believe things happen for a reason, even if it is a distasteful reason. We want a reason because it is harder to live with the idea that things happen for no reason. The brain can’t process unknowns or believe there is NO reason for why things happened (I suggest you see related posts I made about Meaning and meaninglessness in life here and here).
Things happen for a reason, but it is not the reason most think. We all want to live in a world that makes sense and is fair so we believe that anything that does happen, had to happen and that there was a logical cause. We especially want this to be true if suffering or difficulty was involved. Nobody wants there to be meaningless suffering.
During my adult years I have come to the conclusion that everything does happen for a reason, but it is the reason WE decide, it was not preordained. This belief has evolved from life experiences and from my multiple readings of Harold S. Kushner’s incredible book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People“. A book I STRONGLY recommend you read. After all, is there anyone that has not known suffering?
If you are not aware, I was the passenger in a car that collided head on with another. My result was the best. I suffered a severe brain contusion that put me in a coma for a week and paralyzed me for a short time. It also caused brain damage that eliminated my memories. My 3 friends (the driver and the other 2 passengers) were tragically killed and the people in the other car were badly injured. After I began to recover from my near fatal car accident that occurred on September 21, 1984, (see the story here) my mother recommended I read Harold Kushner’s book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People“. She had read it.
Many suggested to me that I was saved in the car accident for a reason and God had a plan. As suggested by Kushner, this is just wishful thinking and an attempt to defend God and was an attempt to give a reason to my suffering. I cannot believe I was saved for a reason. If there is an all powerful, all knowing, kind, supernatural being, then my accident would not have happened. I could of learned the lesson or whatever I was supposed to have gained from that accident in a way that would not have caused so much harm, sadness, difficulty, and death to so many.
The world is not fair, therefore finding a why or reason that makes us think the world is fair would be counterproductive. Kushner recommends we move away from searching for why and for someone to blame because blaming the victim is a way of only reassuring ourself and that the world is fair and not a bad place. Finding a why suggests there are good reasons for suffering, there are not. He then suggests this causes the fortunate to believe good fortune is deserved and not luck. A difficulty with this approach is that doing so means all will feel better except the victim.
I CHOSE the reason for the accident. I have chosen to view that the accident was a sad and tragic event that also I decided pushed me to develop skills I would not have otherwise gained. I can’t undo the accident, it happened. As Kushner suggests, we need a new question. Instead of WHY did this happen to me, we should ask, “Now that this happened, what do I do now?” I chose to get help and develop the skills and abilities I needed to live a better life. The importance of this approach is noted in the title of Kushner’s book. The title of the book is not WHY Bad things happen but WHEN Bad things happen. Similarly, Tony Robbins suggests we should notice the skills and or the abilities we develop to deal with difficulties in our life we could not develop otherwise and use those to improve the lives of ourselves and others.
To me, reasons are not pre-determined, we choose the reason and if we choose to develop abilities not possible otherwise – then we CHOOSE what to do when something bad happens. When things happen in life, good or bad, choose a reason that helps us learn how to generate comprehensive improvements by creating selfish, selfless, synergistic interactions so everyone and everything benefits.
Contact me at: