Everything happens for a reason.

I don’t know who said this first, but lots of people say it now and it annoys me every time I hear it.

I’m not a fan of magical thinking and that’s what this is—some sort of happy-voodoo, abracadabra, unicorns and rainbows, fairy dust and angels belief in preordination.

Of course, it’s a comforting belief. I get that. It makes the world feel less random, makes order of what might seem like chaos at the time.

But it’s not true. A lot of stuff happens for purely random reasons. And even religion and an omnipotent God can’t account for everything—that’s the whole premise behind the classic book of comfort, When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

Sure, some things happen for a reason, but that reason is in the past or present, not the future. And it’s not always a good reason. You drink, you drive, you wrap your car around a pole or end up in an addled-looking mug shot. It happened for a reason—you were drinking and driving—but it didn’t happen as a way to make you stop drinking and driving. It happened because you were doing something dumb.

Or you skip a class so often that you end up failing. Maybe the F inspires you to find another major because you realize that this subject bores you silly. That’s good. But you didn’t fail the class because the stars were saying you needed to change majors. You failed because you didn’t go to class.

This quote has it backwards. It’s not that everything happens for a reason. It’s that the best we can do when things happen is find a reason or a way to be OK with them. Use them to move forward. Figure out if there’s something to learn from them and take the lesson to heart. Put it into action.

Everything doesn’t happen for a reason. But if we live consciously, we can find reasons to make the best of everything that happens.

Image of magic show is available from Shutterstock.