"Shallow men believe in luck, believe in circumstances… Strong men believe in cause and effect.” Ralph Waldo
Be you shallow or not, luck is certainly a great ingredient to have in life but far from being sufficient. Many people do seem to believe, however, in that axiom: "Everything happens for a reason." Like me, you too, at some time or another, must have come across truisms such as: "It might take a year, it might take a day, but what's meant to be will always find its way" or "sometimes when thing are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place." And as easy as it is to relate to these phrases, it is still very difficult to accept the idea that there is in fact a reason for everything that happens!
It makes me wonder why we take a certain path or why things happen the way they do. It is doubtless easier to imagine some hidden hand, navigating and influencing our lives over which we, ourselves, have limited control. Malcolm T. Gladwell in The Outliers tries to persuade us out of our frustration when we fail to achieve our goals, explaining that everything relates to or depends on macro circumstances which are totally out of our hands, such as our time of birth. He gives examples of people such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who were born in the same range of years, a fact which, he claims, enabled their vision. While I am intrigued by his interpretation, I can’t help thinking that these people had something more than just circumstances playing to their strength. They also had the ability to use their surroundings and turn them to their favor.
Image by Ravit Turkiya
"Everything happens for a reason” is a strong notion, because it adds to a particular setting something more than simple fortuity, namely, a logic for why things turn out the way they do. So here are 7 ideas that break down this somewhat "mystical” approach to the practical actions that stand behind the cause and effect parameters of our journey.
1. Awareness – everything happens for a reason is about looking to connect the dots. Understanding that however coincidental the circumstances of our life, our awareness and observation of their evolution is crucial to our ability to react.
2. React accordingly – everything happens for a reason is about our ability to adapt to the changes around and act appropriately. Sometimes we have the skills, sometimes it requires us to learn something new; at times we will be able to easily adjust, at others it will require putting in a special effort. Our ability to flexibly react can make a difference.
3. Distinguish between that which is immovable and that which calls for your active involvement – everything happens for a reason is about accepting that which is out of our hands. If it is something we cannot change, we are best to just move on. We often have the answers but ignore the truth. Believing in the meeting of wills can eliminate unnecessary expectations and disappointments.
4. Use your circumstances to your own advantage – everything happens for a reason is about exploiting opportunities. To be successful you need motivation, devotion, determination, and also luck, but if you cannot adjust your vision to the reality around you, these elements will not prevail. Being able to look at your own reality and say as many times as possible that everything happens for a reason, means you are using opportunities. You see doors close, but you can very quickly look to the other side and see the new doors opening. It is this navigation through obstacles, challenges, good things and bad that may lead to success and self-fulfillment.
5. Be willing to work hard – everything happens for a reason is about the connection between efforts put in and results obtained. Even if you believe in luck, you cannot ignore the fact that change and achievements are the result of being able to pull yourself out of one situation and move to another. Education, career, finding the right partner, building a family – all these involve commitment and hard work. Being lucky may help, but it is not everything.
6. Never ever let go of your past experience – everything happens for a reason is about learning from your own experiences and advancing. When you look at your past experience as something that was there for a reason, you can see its purpose in your life. One person may realize their actual strength, another their own limitations or defects. Accepting the past and understanding that it cannot be erased can become a catalyst for growth and self-improvement. Because when we confront our challenges and search and understand our motives, they can open the way to new, exciting and unknown journeys.
7. Just let go and relax – everything happens for a reason is also about letting circumstances lead the way. It is only by adopting this mindset that you can look back with satisfaction, safe in the knowledge that everything is backdrop to your future. This idea of being able to accept things as they are has, more often than not, had a stronger impact than I could ever have imagined. It works well in so many aspects of our lives, be it the allegedly shallow expression of fashion or other examples, one of them shared in the post here. When choosing a certain way or stumbling onto a specific path, the ability to see beyond randomness allows you to believe that it needed to happen that way and no other.
It often happens that when you feel lucky, you just wait for things to happen to you, but the truth is that nothing comes easy. If you think about it, most of our achievements relate to deliberate action and hard work. And all the hard work—achieved through awareness and courage— ignite the will to satisfy motivation. So yes, everything happens for a reason, but all the reasons lead to the same source, and the greater or lesser your degree of involvement, you are still an integral component of the reasons for everything happening around.