What “Everything Happens for a Reason” really Means

When it comes to clichés, there are a lot of skeptics in the world. Even for optimists, sometimes these seemingly glossed-over phrases are not the most appropriate explanations for why the world works the way it does. However, when looked at below surface level, some “overused” sayings carry a much heavier weight than first assumed. One of the most overused clichés is the saying that everything happens for a reason. Does it? Is there a plan laid out for each human being’s life and the course of events that inevitably take place? Could it possibly be that no matter how many triumphs we experience, mistakes we make, and defeats we endure, it was meant to happen the way that it did?

A “yes or no” stance could easily be taken on this question; we could quickly decide that yes, we believe that our lives’ events were destined, or no, that our lives’ events are due entirely to ourselves and our actions. However, this analysis would fail to take the saying for anything more than face value. It would define “everything happens for a reason” as a passive phrase for explaining life when in actuality, this cliché is not a reason. It is rather a lens that we may or may not choose to look at life through. It is a how, not why.

“Everything happens for a reason” is a mindset that the open-minded should take. It is a view that says we are open to and will take full advantage of chance, and are willing to hold ourselves accountable for the decisions that we make. It means that when provided with opportunity, we will take it. When we make mistakes, we will not hang our heads but rather put one foot in front of the other and continue to learn. It means that when presented with something truly amazing in life, we will not let it go. This last point could be the most meaningful in defining the phrase, because it encompasses the belief that in a seemingly ordinary world, incredible and amazing things and people happen to us. This saying means that when great chance and when great love comes, we embrace it. We hold on with everything we have.

When looked at as an explanation for the things we go through, “everything happens for a reason” can be used as a either cop-out or a more intellectual way of saying “oh well.” Far too many of us choose far too quickly to do this, and fail to learn from mistakes or take a minute wonder at the marvels of life and keep them in our hearts. Utilizing the saying as such, and viewing life as a predetermined course of events does a disservice to our own free will—it does not allow us to take credit for how our lives are set up. We are not passive creatures that merely let life happen to us; we are brimming with passion, commit mistakes, and make life happen.

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