“Everything Happens For a Reason” or “You Can Learn From Everything”

When you first read both those statements they sound very similar. However, they’re actually very different.

Everything Happens For a Reason
This saying indicates that every event or outcome happens specifically to teach you something or move you in a certain direction.

You Can Learn From Everything
This saying indicates that you walk away from every event or outcome having learned something.

What I Believe
I do not believe that “everything happens for a reason.” I find it incredibly hard to believe that I am meant to learn a specific lesson or move in a specific direction for each event that occurs in my life. I am a firm believer in personal choice and responsibility.  “Everything happens for a reason” feels too much like I’m placing events and results in someone else’s hands instead of taking responsibility where it’s appropriate. The example I always come back to is an unexpected death of a healthy young person I knew. I find hard to believe that it happened specifically so one person (or a few people) could learn something or move toward something or that there was a “reason” it happened.

I do believe that “you can learn from everything.”  This puts the choice in your hands and you get to ask questions like “What can I learn about myself from this?” or “What can I take away from this experience?” In the example above, I find “you can learn from everything” much more empowering. Instead of looking for the one reason his death occurred, I looked for the lessons that I learned about myself and others.

Which saying do you believe?