When some tragic instance occurs, the phrase “everything happens for a reason” comforts those in pain, letting them know that there is some bigger picture or plan for all of us. Although this thought is comforting, it actually can bring confusion, anxiety and depression.
In Thomas Nagel’s 6th chapter entitled “Free Will” in his book What Does it All Mean?, he discusses the implications of free will and determinism. If everything happens for a reason, then what is the point of any of our choices? We may believe that we have the freedom to make our own choice, like a major in college, when in reality this is chosen for us by our previous experiences and everything that led up to that decision.
So, then, why is the phrase “everything happens for a reason” so comforting? Furthermore, why do people enjoy the concepts of fate and karma?
I believe that people have several paths that they may take in life. Although these paths are predetermined, they have a high range of variability in-between them. No path to success was ever perfect, and the drawbacks that were found along the way helped them grow and succeed. These downfalls are a part of the path and they help the person succeed. In essence, we have some choice, and can find meaning in several areas in the world. When we are on these paths, we have a set road that we can detour from in a variety of ways, and grow in our lives in the direction we choose.