Everything happens for a reason?
Causality, Control & Choice
Do you believe in fate? To believe that there’s a predestined course we’re meant to take? …This belief seems like a cop out. A lazy way to live.
Yes bad things happen, and so do good things. Why do they happen?
I had to research the origin of this saying “Everything happens for a reason”. Turns out, it’s a new age version of the religious saying, “It’s Gods will”. More modern terms are “It is what it is”.
Although it may “seem” true, or sound like the “right” thing to say to someone who has experience loss or pain, it isn’t. It gives the sense that this problem was “meant” to happen. That there was no control over it. That everything is beyond our control. That we should just accept this. What an awful way to live. Some things our souls just won’t accept.
Now this is not going to be a religious debate. Each to his own. I have respect for all beliefs. There are elements of truth stemming from all of them.
But let’s just think about this for a moment.
Let’s assume there is a God. That he exists.
If …you believe he exists, you believe that he gave us free will, then how would this saying make sense?
If… he doesn’t exist, then the above saying is still inconsistent. And we are simply left with our choices.
When good things happen, you’ve most likely worked for it. Thought about it, assessed the situation, planned for it. Success is when preparation meets opportunity. (Opportunity being “chance”).
For everything there’s cause and effect, and for the unknown unknowns and variables there is “chance”: The intersection of causality.
For all the bad things which happen, which came as a surprise, you probably didn’t prepare for it. We can try to design every factor in our lives, but realistically we can’t control EVERYTHING. We can’t control political upheaval, our ecosystem and society in general.
Or can we? — Actually that we can control, as a collective. Wake up everyone and see that we can.
Let’s break this down logically:
If a=b, b=c therefore a=c
The only constant is change and choice. We all have choice. Therefore, we all have the constant choice to change?
Yes, everything does happen for a reason. And that reason is you made stupid choices or didn’t think things through. The reason is that you brought it upon yourself. (In some cases) — In other cases, you just didn’t know any better, or you hadn’t learnt yet, (as you hadn’t experienced it yet).
Or you were just at the intersection of cause and effect and cannot understand/view the source of that catalyst from that angle.
— Rethink and reassess: did you really do everything in your power?
If yes…and you didn’t get the desired outcome, then decide “Pivot or persevere?” Are you going to try harder and keep working towards this goal? Is it a goal worth working towards? Or should you look at a different approach or seek out a new goal entirely? If so…then do it!
Blaming the world doesn’t solve anything. There could be a million reasons why something didn’t work out as planned. We are living in world where everything is connected. Everything has an effect on the things around it. Humanity is a collective consciousness. Economic, political, social, technological and environmental factors from a few to millions of years ago have caused a domino effect cascading through the years, down to our day. There are many reasons for the outcomes, and we may not always find the source. But search nonetheless.
In reality, the only thing we can’t control is death
There is no way to reevaluate this situation of death. No way to fix it. You can consider the good memories and hold those dear. Instead of daily reliving the event of death. Life is there for us to create those memories for when death meets us. To live life fully while we are here. To create something beautiful, to add value to lives. In the lives of those we care about and those we come across (or may never meet). Each act is a chance to have a good effect. To leave something worthwhile behind. Or to be remembered after we return to the nothingness prior to birth.
You lived fully and loved completely while your dead loved one was around. There is no doubt that you gave them your everything while they existed. You made mistakes, because that’s what humans do. But you loved them the best way you knew how, with your understanding of what is right/good at that point in time. You have done your best. There is no need to live with regret.
Don’t let losing one person (or a few people), allow you to forget that there are more who need your time. Failure to do so risks regret in the future. The only way to heal this wound is to not allow the hole inside to consume you. Instead continue in love, out of remembrance for those who no longer exist. To keep close those who are still around and not waste the time you have now. Because one day, you too will be gone…and if you don’t love now, who will remember you tomorrow?
For all who have suffered in some way, the best way to help yourself, is to help another.
Complaining about your tragedy, just makes you relive it all over again. You’ve already lived through it, why would you want to keep replaying it over again?
Instead of thinking in this fatalistic way, instead think “There is only cause and effect”. What happened? Why did it happen? What can I do about it? Can it be fixed? If yes, fix it, if it can’t …then fix something else. There’s always something to fix. Simple.
When you tell someone that “everything happens for a reason”, you’re giving them permission to be a victim. You disempower them. You tell them it’s ok to be lazy and not bother even trying.
Our only control is over our choices. Choices in our habits will in turn affect the changes which occur. So many changes are possible, from our thinking, feeling and character, ultimately changes in our entire being, in who we surround ourselves with. We can change the world around us. All this springs from a conscious choice to believe that you can change. Not to seek happiness…but to “choose” joy over suffering.
How can you just “be happy?”. It doesn’t have an on/off switch?
Small steps. Think first of all the things you’re currently doing which stems from this pain. Because ultimately, your life has changed from this tragedy, and you may have found unhealthy coping strategies along the way. Perhaps you’ve gone on a path of self destruction. You know what you’re doing, there is no one to blame for where you are but you. Perhaps not being able to sleep or eat. Perhaps you’ve stopped being productive at work and allow suicidal thoughts to creep in more often. This just amplifies the original problem/tragedy and thus compounds it with more problems and consequences. Now you have a kaleidoscope of problems stemming from the one tragedy. All merely symptoms of the cause.
This is an emotional problem which creates mental and physical problems in the long run. Sometimes when we can’t fix the emotional, we drop the ball on the physical side as well. Which makes it worse.
Step 1: Keeping this machine healthy, this machine we live in (our bodies)
Don’t drop the ball on this. Keep this running, to ensure you have the capacity or strength to proceed further. Make incremental changes. Get enough sleep, start to eat regularly ( and eat the right things ) …force yourself to adhere to this, because although it seems irrelevant, this is the foundation which will make you stronger. — Focus on things which will keep you healthy in the long run. Cut out the rest which slowly kill you. Create a new pattern in your life, a new habit of self care and get the basics in place.
Step 2: Focus on one change at a time.
Let’s say every time you remember the tragedy, your first thought is “I wish I wasn’t here, I wish I was dead.” or some other equally negative thought. Instead, every time you have a negative thought, divert your attention to anything else. Walk, take in your surroundings, focus on your every step, listen to the world around you. Observe and just take it in. Zoom in on the leaves, touch it, notice the patterns in it. Tear it up and find another leaf. Feel the wind, what does it taste like? What do you hear? Find a quiet spot and take it in. Observe the things around you and focus only on describing it in it’s entirety. From the distant point in the sky to the nearest objects surrounding you. Write it, draw it. Just take it as an exercise to try out.
Make this habit. You’ll find it difficult in the beginning as it seems pointless or stupid to try to avoid your thoughts. At some point, your true thoughts will come through, as there is no avoiding thinking about your pain. When all you see permeates or reflects the internal.
Think about a time you were happy. Refocus, and don’t indulge in the negativity, replace it with positive. Remember happiness it in it’s totality, whatever that means to you. Every little detail. Perhaps it was sitting on a beach. Imagine the water and the smell of the ocean. The wind against your skin and sand in your toes. Imagine the sense of laughing so hard till your tummy aches and your cheeks and jaw pain a bit from not being able to stop laughing. Think of all the beautiful times you’ve experienced.
Capture it, write about it, draw it, take photographs of beautiful things, make music. The end goal being, just make something, anything. Just create. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Create for the sake of it. Not to be viewed by another.
If thinking is what you’re trying to avoid, create nonetheless. Just make something… anything. Keep your hands busy, and be in the moment, allow your mind to only concentrate on what you are doing at that point in time.
Most don’t believe in the power of creation. Don’t realise the strength in it.
Step 3: In times of pain: make something, in times of joy: make something…Create
It may sound silly, but there’s a release of some sort out of it. A sense that if there is nothing in this world I can control, at least I have control right now, in this moment on this piece of paper with this pen. That if there’s nothing in this world but the pen and I… I can create anything I want to on this page I hold in my hands.
Be grateful for your life, your mistakes, your joys as well as your pain.
This is what makes us human. We cannot be defined by our pain or our problems, but instead, we are here to learn to rise above it.
To be who your are, despite your pain …not because of it.
Everything we do, if not fully, isn’t worth doing at all. Put your heart fully into everything your hand touches. That is the joy of being human. To be thrown in, or willingly walk to the depths of this hell on earth, and to still find the strength to climb back up to watch the sunrise again.
The conscious choice to choose hope instead of fear.
Yoda in Star Wars knows what I’m talking about:
“Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.”
Should we all live with the belief that human beings exist in a purposeless, chaotic universe? If that’s the case, then rebel against this idea of a seemingly meaningless world, and create your own meaning in spite of this. Stand firm that giving up is never an option.
If we instead choose love despite all the turmoil we feel, and teach ourselves to hope again, the possibilities are endless.
From love springs hope…hope leads to gratitude…which leads to “remembering” your happiness…meaning is then restored to this story we call life.
It’s your choice.
A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.