Sometimes (or maybe often times), bad things happen to us and we don’t know why. We feel victimized. We feel like the world is being cruel to us. We feel like we’re being punished. We question our right to be happy. We wonder what we might have done wrong.
That was me – was.
In the beginning of 2012, I was about to embark on one of the greatest adventures of my life. I quit a stable job with a huge multinational company. And I was going to leave the country to start a new life elsewhere.
It’s what I’ve always wanted – what I’ve always dreamed of ever since my mom took home a travel brochure when I was a kid. I have always wanted to spread my wings.
I wanted to see the world. But I didn’t come from a rich background. That is why I did what I could to move towards that direction. I tried to be an exchange student, I tried working for a company that has branches all over the world, heck I exposed myself to all sorts of opportunities.
And when it finally happened, when my dream was materializing right before my eyes. I didn’t expect to feel horrified. I wasn’t scared of the change or the unknown. I was scared of screwing things up. You see, a lot of things have happened that made me doubt myself. Whether it was a bad break up or it was having trouble fitting in, I just found more and more reasons to feel that I’m not good for anything. Or to put it more dramatic terms, I felt that I didn’t deserve to be happy so bad things are bound to happen.
I was frightened. I was finally achieving my goals and I felt like I was crossing a very fine wire with very slippery socks while the wind rocked me like an annoying toddler.
But now, when it has been almost a year that I have sailed through that phase of my life, I can honestly say that I was being so stupid.
The thing is, most of us are being stupid when we put negative thoughts like those in our head.
If I would have to sum up this past year in a word, I would say: gratitude.
I am thankful for the things I was able to do, for the places I was able to see, for the people I was able to meet, the experiences I was able to live, and the lessons I was finally able to fully appreciate.
And one of the biggest lessons I have learned is about having a different perspective regarding the “bad” things that have happened to me. I don’t want to ramble on about the details but rather look at it as a general principle.
Here it is:
Bad things happen everyday. They cause us pain. They make us suffer. They bring us down. And sometimes, they destroy us.
And we often ask ourselves, why? Why me? What did I do wrong?
I think the answer is quite simple. We all have an idea of what our life should be. We have an image of what our careers should look like. We have a standard of what our partners should be. We have a template of what success should mean. When life does not suit what we have in mind, we feel hurt. We feel distressed.
But just because life gives us things that do not match our expectations, doesn’t mean we are bound to be unhappy. But our expectations, our imagination, our concept of happiness can be so little and so limited that we don’t see that greater things are at work. Call it divine intervention, higher power, destiny, power of manifestation, the universe, or mysticism, call it whatever. But we are just a spec of dust in the grand scheme of things. Just because we cannot see the path to happiness, or life has forced us to walk a different path that we would’ve hoped to be, doesn’t mean we are not headed there.
Let me say that again, just because life has forced us to take a path different from the path that we originally conceived of, doesn’t mean that the destinations are different.
We can sometimes be shortsighted. Bad things happen for a reason. Maybe that reason is simply us resisting the happiness that we are too dumb to foretell.