Why we say, “Everything happens for a reason.”

“Everything happens for a reason.” In lieu of recent events, I have been telling myself this. And so have all my friends and family. We know that this saying holds true because well…it is true. Here’s my take on it from a linguistic perspective. Let’s discuss the word “happen.” It means to occur, to begin, to become of. If something happens, it comes into existence. The entity that was nonexistent turned into something tangible and real. And “a reason” means an explanation, an outcome so to speak. Take this sentence: “The reason why he yelled at us was because he was upset that he had lost all his money.” Now, although yelling is never an excuse, this sentence explains that the reason this person behaved irrationally was because he was upset that he had lost all his money. The outcome of it and what happened was that he yelled at us. So in this case, if we use the phrase  “Everything happens for a reason,” it would be before we knew the reason why he had acted that way and after it happened. Here’s a timeline of events:

Everything happens for a reasonSo…why do we say it? We say it because given time, the fog of the future will disappear and the reasons why things happened the way it did will unfold. We say it because history repeats itself and is therefore, the best predictor of the future. And we know from our own history and from experience that more often than not, there are reasons to why things happened. We say it to remind ourselves that the reason will be clear in due time and that we have to be patient and wait. I will talk more about the recent events that inspired this post when they become not-so-recent and I have a clearer perspective on how I want to talk about it. I will mentioned that, very much like the example in this post, there was inexcusable yelling involved. Thank you for reading.

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