Well, yes and…no.
We do frequently hear that “everything happens for a reason”. This is usually expressed with the implication that no matter how difficult the situation, the outcome is practically preordained to be a positive one. So the focus is on the event as an opportunity, or even evidence, that the “universe” is somehow bringing us a blessing in disguise.
While this perspective, a form of positive thinking, isn’t the worst attitude that we can have when faced with unexpected difficulties, it unfortunately misses the mark in terms of accuracy. In fact, everything does happen for a reason, i.e. that there is an actual cause that has resulted in the event, that is rarely perceived or understood.
The positive thinking paradigm is extended to include the idea that the “universe has provided this opportunity”, or that it “wants us to learn this lesson”, etc. The obvious mistake here is that the universe doesn’t have any personal investment in, or intention towards, any of us. The universe is neutral. It has already established its laws of operation in this Creation, which govern everything in it, with cause and effect being one of the central, immutable laws. Of course not only has everything come into existence through the miracle of the Creation but its laws also govern the duration of existence of its various elements…and so many other things.
While we may not be cognizant of exactly what we, and others know and/or don’t know, may have done that have resulted in a bite-your-tongue “opportunity”, we can be sure that there is indeed a causal trail leading to the event. Contributing factors could include unconscious, conscious, correct and mistaken thoughts, feelings and actions, which have led to the event.
We should understand that our admirable optimism, expressed as “everything happens for a reason” is not to be taken as a guarantee that the positive resolution of the situation is a foregone conclusion. The situation should be seen as an opportunity to reflect on the possible causative actions and to perceive, and learn from, them as best as possible.
The intention to see things as they are, even in a reflective mode, also known as neutral-positive thinking, can be helpful to strengthen our attentiveness and understanding, determine what corrective actions need to be taken and perform them. It can also lead us out of the overly positive, New Age, mystical type of thinking that reinforces the idea that outside forces are responsible for these so-called lessons in life and that they are administered by “God”, “spirit”, “the universe”, etc., for our personal benefit.
Depending on the level of confusion about this in one’s mind, one may feel that they are “blessed”, or especially “worthy”, because what amounts to some imaginary god or tin god has “chosen to bestow” this “cloud with a silver lining” on us in the guise of an otherwise challenging or unpleasant situation.
Of course the aforementioned reflection on the actual causes of the situation is to be done as soon as possible without diverting one’s attention from the task at hand. Sometimes we will find that our intention to do so causes such perceptions and insights to occur spontaneously, sporadically and intermittently with and/or during our corrective work. This can occur more easily if we are approaching our task with a relaxed, as well as attentive, state of mind, thereby assisting rather than impeding our progress.
Depending on the actual complexity of the causal circumstances we may or may not be able to get a complete picture that immediately allows us to understand all that brought the situation about.
So it isn’t in itself either positive or negative that “things happen”. Nor is it some hide-the-candy trick by a universe that in any way “intends” for us to find the candy. The universe didn’t “do” anything to, for, or against us. The immutable laws of cause and effect are unfailingly at work and there has been no magical, mystical, capricious – personal – positive or negative intercession by the Creation.