Not everything happens for a reason

The phrase “everything happens for a reason” came up in a couple contexts recently (conversation with a friend, Radiolab, etc.). It’s a good example of an obviously false statement that contains plenty of useful insight, and is interesting to think about in that context.

We’ll get the pedantic out of the way first: “everything happens for a reason” is literally true in the sense that the future happens for the reason that is the past. What people are usually implying is “everything happens because of a simple event in the future”. It isn’t worth wasting time tearing apart that absurdity.

What’s more interesting is why people say such a thing. Here are some possible related statements:

  1. I choose not to regret the past.
  2. Every event contains benefits.
  3. We’ll make it work.

I was imagining writing more, but I think that sums it up. You do not need to be irrational to be optimistic and positive.

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