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I trust that everything happens for a reason, even when we’re not wise enough to see it.
Oprah Winfrey

I believe this quote has an important truth we should remember. Life would be difficult if we think that things just happen at random. If we have such mindset, when something goes wrong we may lose heart and do not know what to do. It won’t be easy either to stay grateful and positive when something bad happens. Things will be much easier if we believe that there is a reason behind it and that it’s a part of our life’s picture.

Steve Jobs talked about this very topic in his famous commencement address at Stanford. He called it “connecting the dots”:

If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something ”” your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Are you having difficult time? Are you at an intersection in your life? Whatever it is, trust that the dots will connect in the future. It will take the pressure off yourself and enable you to walk your life with confidence.

Regarding bad circumstances, here is an important thing to remember: without the bad dots, the whole dots won’t connect as they should.

Bad dots are important. We like to think that only the good dots are important. But the truth is, bad dots are also essential. Our life picture simply can not be completed without them. Dropping out from college might seem like a bad thing for Steve Jobs, but it eventually allows him to bring good typography into personal computers. Similarly, something bad may happen to us, but it will make the picture of our life complete and wonderful.

So, if bad things happen, don’t think that they just happen without a reason. There is a clear reason: without them, the dots in your life won’t connect as they should.


Categories: Attitude

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  • http://www.maleadvicecolumn.com gale

    while i also advocate a future-looking, confident approach to life, i find that my life is simpler and more peaceful when i don’t attribute a reason to everything that happens. fantastic post, keep on trucking Donald!

  • http://www.urbanmonk.net Albert | UrbanMonk.Net

    There’s a very nice quote in Zen (that I like more than Oprah hahaha!).

    “Each snowflake falls, each in it’s perfect place.”

    Thanks for the cool post Donald!

    Cheers,
    Albert | UrbanMonk.Net
    Modern personal development, entwined with ancient spirituality.

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Gale,
    Thanks! I don’t think it’s necessary to think about what the reason behind something is. As you said, it will make our life more complicated. We just need to trust that there is a reason, whether we can see it or not.

    Albert,
    Great quote! Now I understand why you like it more than Oprah :)

  • http://www.soylentred.net/ Rory Parle

    I don’t think that everything happens for a reason. Most things in life happen one way when they could just have easily have happened another way. It’s chaotic, surprising, unpredictable. The trick is, over time, to convince yourself that you have what it takes to weather the bad and to take advantage of the good that comes your way.

    Life is an adventure and you can take it anywhere you want to go.

  • http://www.personal-growth-with-corinne-edwards.com Corinne Edwards

    You should win a prize with this article.

    It is truly encouraging and helpful.

    Instead, I will stumble it!

    Congratulations!

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Rory,
    When we look closer to the details in our life, I agree that life is like what you described. But if we look at our life from a distance (by looking at the big picture), I believe we can see some patterns. Things like our passions create such patterns in our life.

    Corinne,
    Thanks for the encouragement! I appreciate it.

  • http://lawrencecheok.com Lawrence Cheok | A Long Long Road

    Hi Donald, wise words. Thanks for sharing these.

    I totally agree with you. And I like to add that sometimes bad things happen and we fail because it may be because the endeavor is not meant to be. It could be because there is something else greater, more suitable waiting for you.

    Ex-CEO of KPMG, Eugene O’Kelly wanted to be a baseball player, but he wasn’t good at it. Later he gave up this dream to become an accountant, which lead to his outstanding career at KPMG.

    It’s another fine example of connecting the dots (bad ones including)

    You can find one article here about the example I just quoted:
    http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/when-to-quit-and-when-to-stick/

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Lawrence,
    Thanks for the example! I agree with you. When we fail, it often means something greater is waiting for us.

  • Yvonne

    Very nice analogy. I always believed things happen for a reason even if we don’t know what that reason may be. Our decision help shape us just like the dots help shape us.

    I try not to worry about the future, but try to stay grounded in the present.

    Thanks for the added insight and I hope others benefited from your article as much as I have.

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Yvonne,
    I love your the way you say it: “Our decision help shape us just like the dots help shape us.” That is very true. It is our decisions that draw the picture of our life. And by focusing on the present we have better chance to make good decisions.

  • http://goodlifezen.com Mary Jaksch I GoodlifeZen

    This is a very interesting post. It’s true that we can sometimes see the design of our life when we look back. Here is an example: I emigrated to New Zealand many years ago and left a good career behind as a university lecturer. At the time I couldn’t explain why I was so driven to do that. All I could say was,

    “I want more excitement in my life.”

    Looking back, the dots connect. In New Zealand I began my long training in martial art and started Zen training. Now, more than twenty years later I’m a Zen master. Who could have imagined that? So, the dots connect in a clear way: I moved to the country where I would be able to develop spiritually.

  • http://www.lifeoptimizer.org Donald Latumahina

    Mary,
    What an amazing story! Your story is a clear example of the concept in this post.

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