The Risk of ‘Everything Happens For A Reason’

The Risk of ‘Everything Happens For A Reason’

I don’t think everything happens for a reason. On one hand that helps me a lot. It means I feel like I have a say in the way my life goes and the consequences of my actions are directly related to what I do and how I do them, which means that I have buy into my life.

When I’m stuck or something isn’t going my way, I don't let up and think ‘ahh it will be okay, there is probably a reason for this’. I don’t think I was endowed with any pre-determined path and I don’t think I was created for a specific purpose. I think I’m here because I got lucky in the primordial soup of celestial life and plus an infinite number of other things that led to me being here, capable of perceiving and feeling and writing this to you — I think we all hit the lottery.

This comes with many benefits: when something doesn’t go my way or something bad happens, I don’t look to the sky and ask why it happened. I don’t sit around and try to find the meaning or the sign of why this happened. When someone close to me dies I don’t wonder why this has happened, I don’t wonder why some God put this test in my life. That all has a bit too much of a self-centered stink to me.

That thought process also, I think, has an incredibly large negative impact on the way we move through and are impacted by those events. I don’t ask why my cousin or friends died so young, I’m grateful they had a chance to be alive at all because we’re so lucky to be here, capable of perceiving life and feeling emotion. It feels like this life is all gravy, that with every breath we take and every day we wake up, we are playing with the house’s money.

When something happens, I think of the innumerable ways it could’ve also gone, because the amount of variables and moving parts in life are incalculable, it could’ve gone a million other ways than it had. If you didn’t meet your current wife at the coffee shop that day, you would’ve met someone else, in some other place, with a variety of wild circumstances, that had they gone differently — you would’ve never met. “If I would’ve just slept in for another 5 minutes we would’ve never met! How crazy is that?”

Not crazy at all, you would just be talking to me about someone else you met in another set of circumstances and you’d be equally impressed by the number of things that had to go right for you to meet your person. I think ‘everything happens for a reason’ is flawed and negatively impacts our ability to live meaningful lives, at least more consistently.

However the biggest drawback of this thought process is the same as its strength — when something doesn’t go the way you hoped, you know that there were also a variety of ways it could’ve also gone and you know it could’ve just as easily gone your way, but now with your one finite life and finite time, you can’t do what you wanted to do (career etc.) because the cards didn’t fall your way. Then you’re left on the other side, wondering what to do and how to get through it. There is no comfort, there is no “this happened for a reason” to get you through the disappointment. It’s all on you and it can suck terribly.

When things go the way you hoped and worked for, you are on top of the world — to think that you had a say in where you ended up and the person you are is an incredible feeling. Isn’t that what we hear all the time from entrepreneurs who left their rotting souls in corporate life for one more in line with who they were? They had a say in the way their life went. The highs are high. It takes courage to do something like this, and I’d say it may even take more courage to do something like this when you don’t think everything happens for a reason.

When everything happens for a reason, the bad is never as bad as it could be, because you have built-in insurance that no matter what happens, it happens for a reason, although you may not be able to see it yet, it is there, God or something else just needs to show you. On the contrary, you tried, had courage, and failed. Yes, you learned through the process but there is the idea of divine hand waving to show you why this happened. I just imagined gung-ho entrepreneurs and motivational speakers responding to this with “You can only fail if you stop trying!!”, I think that works in theory. It’s great in sentiment and I think it probably does more good than bad to carry that perspective into your endeavors. However, it doesn’t account for reality, because in reality, there are some things that will never happen no matter how hard you try.

So I guess all of this was to say, I am a bit of a cheat. I wish I believed everything happened for a reason when things don’t go my way, to help me get through the hollow depth of feeling like a life path I desired fell through. But when the times are good, the feeling of knowing I had a say in getting there makes the top feel so much higher.

So maybe I’ll adopt, “Everything happens for a reason sometimes". Ha.

See you in two weeks.

‘Til our last breath,

James Kiesewetter


Click here for more information on James’ book Smile Your Last Breath Away
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