Does Everything Really Happen For a Reason?

“Everything happens for a reason” is such a commonly used phrase. It goes hand in hand with “There are no coincidences” and “It will all work out” and so many other statements that somehow seem to make things better, at least in our perceptions.

I am sure you can think of some:

  • It is all part of the bigger plan
  • The universe will take care of you
  • If your intentions are right you will succeed
  • If you are truly on your path things will work out for you
  • God does not give you what you cannot handle.


woman with a finger on her cheeks, rolling her eyes to the ceiling, thinking, everything happens for a reason

The saying that everything happens for a reason is the modern, New Age version of the old saying:  “It’s God’s will.”    The two sayings have the same problem – the complete lack of evidence that they’re true.    Not only is there no good evidence that God exists, we have no way of knowing what it is that he (or she) wanted to happen, other than that it actually did happen. Dr. Paul Thegard PhD in Psychology Today

clouds over water body, everything happens for a reason

Why Does It Resonate For Many?

It is comforting to believe that there is someone in charge, that there is an order to things. That when good things happen it means we deserve them, and when bad things happen there is some logic to it despite the fact that we may not see it at the time it happens.

Here is a paragraph from another blog that represents the belief that there is a bigger plan:

Anytime we fail at something, we’re overcome by a sense of defeat. It’s nature. And it’s part of life. We all go through it. Does it feel good? Nope. Not in the slightest. But you can’t always expect life to be rainbows and sunshine. But there is a reason for the things that happen to you. In fact, the greatest lessons you could ever learn in life are born from failure.



Here Is My Perspective On Everything Happens For A Reason

In my ongoing attempt to live a mindful life I am committed to living as close to reality as possible. As I study myself, my relationships, and the events that happen in my life and in the lives of others I find that there is a level of arrogance that comes with this specific belief and this arrogance is often combined with ignorance.

I will use an extreme example to make a point. The loss of a child. Would you dare tell the grieving mother that everything happens for a reason? Can you yourself see the reason for the loss of life of a 9 year old boy? Of a 20 years old young man that left home to run and errand and was killed by a texting driver?

Look at a more broad example such as the earthquake in Haiti or the Tsunami in Thailand. Can you see a great reason for that? The tremendous suffering it brought for so many, was that justified somehow? Or the Syrian women and children suffering horribly in the war?

When I have this conversation with people that often use the phrase with great ease I find that most are stumped for words when you present the bigger picture.

Is the cancer patient then responsible for their cancer? They brought it on themselves? What if they never smoked, ate healthy, loved their children, did beautiful deeds in the community, lived humbly and still got cancer… I know a few people like that, some no longer with us on this earth…..

I have been thinking long and hard on this topic. I am challenged daily by comments and assertions that come from this belief. I do not intend to dissuade you from your belief system, simply to present a different perspective.


How Can We Handle Our Experiences Mindfuly?

We start with the acceptance of our humaness, our limitations, our messy and chaotic world. A humbleness that comes from recognizing that there are many forces that are beyond our control.

We continue by living according to our values, by opening our heart and treating ourselves and others with loving kindness and compassion.

We commit to being mindful and we make wise choices regardless of what comes our way. Life is messy and unpredictable but you are always in charge of your responses. You can create meaning and reason from the events that takes place in your life if you so wish.


Things happen, good things and challenging things. How we respond to what takes place in our lives defines our experiences. Choosing with wisdom, and living a life aligned with your values, brings meaning and worth to every moment of every day.

Does everything happen for a reason? I don’t know for sure but I am skeptical.

Does it matter? Not really, as long as you live mindfully.

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