In my experience, the belief that “everything happens for a reason” must be one of the most seductive memes making the rounds. I have bumped into this meme myself on two particular occasions during the years of this blog’s existence, and found the idea very enticing. So much so, that I’m thinking it might be worthwhile to intentionally sustain such a view, as far as possible and reasonable?
The narrative of a life is constructed after the fact, looking back. This gives the dedic “everything for a reason” practitioner an opportunity to find the connections of how the past has lead to the present. The most dedicated then decide that it could not have been any other way: every event in the past is considered a critical piece of the puzzle that lead to the present, such that the present could not have happened had any piece been missing.
If this narrative of the past is convincing enough, the meme is believed and the practitioner can start projecting into the future: if things happen for a reason, any undesirable event today can feel much more tolerable, for the benefits we will reap in the future.
This meme can be expressed in very offensive manners too, of course. This could damage relationships. Are there other ways in which it could be harmful?
The non-believer version of the meme is of course the following, and I have trouble thinking of any way in which this could be inherently harmful: “I will make everything count. Whatever happens to me, I will learn from it, such that it will provide me with a better future.”