Bad Things Happen to Good People

Detachment | Proactivity | The world works out | Other Ideas

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Generous, kind and Intelligent sometimes get hit by a car and are left permanently brain damaged. Beautiful people are attacked and left scared, or worse. Couples who love each other are sometimes torn apart through events, circumstances and other externalities. There are two main issues, in my mind, that bed to be answered: “Why?” and “How do you handle it?”

Why is relatively easy to answer. Whatever belief system one adopts, there must be an explanation for bad things happening, lest the entire belief system would come under threat. Some will hold that it is God’s will. Others will hold that such experiences are because of what happened to your soul in a past life. Still others will believe that the universe is essentially chaotic on some level, and we can firstly never be sure what actions really did contribute to the outcome, and secondly that random events happen that nobody can be blamed for. I suggest that it is useful to respond with a combination of detachment and proactivity.

Detachment from the actual outcome. This means that you should accept that the world has presented you with an opportunity to demonstrate that you know that you do not have total control over the path that your life will take. Detaching from personal responsibility for the way things have happened. However this is not total detachment, lest helplessness set in.

Proactivity requires you to take action. Once you’ve accepted that the event happened outside of your control, you must then decide upon an appropriate response. If you respond by instinct or emotion, you are likely to experience pain… the pain of being on an emotional rollercoaster. Instead, sooner or later, you must decide to take accept the world as it is, and accept responsibility for making things better. Proactivity is a prerequisite for a happy and successful experience of life.

The world has a funny way of working out. Over time, the things that we once thought were negative have positive outcomes, and the things that seemed initially positive have negative consequences. My great grandfather was diagnosed with Tuberculosis as a young man – which would seem to be negative; however, his illness resulted in him being rejected when he attempted to enlist in the Great War. Those who invested early in the dot-com bubble achieved outstanding success, without realising that they were lucky – and many lost fortunes as they continued to pursue a strategy that seemed to have worked initially. Rather than complaining about the way the world is, detach from the way things have turned out and proactively work towards making them the way you want.

Success does not come from having no problems. The only people without problems are dead. Success comes from working towards making things better every day.

Other ideas

  • Do bad things happen to teach us a lesson?
  • Fate: Is bad stuff destined to happen anyway?
  • Utility: It is difficult, if not impossible, to know how the world really is – we just develop belief systems to help us get by… so choose a useful belief system!