Life Is For You

balloonsHave you ever asked “Why did that happen to me?” Until five years ago, I’d ask that question when bad things happened to me. It came from the mindset of a passive victim, and hence things happened to me. Can you relate? Let’s consider a different question, “In what ways did that happen for me?” Same situation, but now this question recognizes life as a co-creator, a helper, a force that conspires to do things for us, instead of against us.

When we change the question we ask, we change the answer we get. The “happen to me” question keeps us in “poor me” mode, while the “happen for me” question empowers us to harvest the treasure in an objectively negative situation. This isn’t to be confused with just overlaying positive thinking over a challenge. Rather, we’re facing the challenge, but we don’t stop there. We seek to dig deeper for the gift within the ugly wrapper.

Miracles for those who believe

There are two ways to live: You can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. ~ Albert Einstein

Let me share 3 cases of people who clearly see life as a miracle—even in the midst of significant life challenges—and believe that life happens for them:

Case #1: I’m watching a friend courageously face lung cancer with a consciousness, clarity and faith that’s simply awe-inspiring. She chooses to surround herself with a circle of friends who has the consciousness and faith she wants, who similarly believe that life is for us no matter the wrapper, including cancer. Does she love chemotherapy and not having the strength to leave her house? Absolutely not! Yet, she genuinely sees and feels the love in this situation, as expressed through the people who are there for her, loving her, inspired by her.

BalloonsCase #2: Another friend is going through a divorce that isn’t only difficult for her as the abandoned wife but also as the mother of a very hurt and angry young girl, who doesn’t have the capacity to understand why her daddy abandoned her. My friend holds steadfast to the knowing that her husband leaving her is ultimately for her highest good, even if she needs to give her natural human reactions—i.e., anger, sadness, anxiety, indignation, etc.—the regular airtime they need to be processed in a healthy manner.

Case #3: The other day, I heard a member of my spiritual center recount the story of having her purse stolen, which left her without a car, without a phone and sitting at home all alone, vulnerable to having the robbers walk in on her any moment before the locks could be changed. Yet, she was able to recognize how that objectively bad event happened for her, not to her. Among other effects, it was the catalyst that ultimately did her the service of making her follow through with changes in her life she didn’t make earlier.

Personally, the gifts under-wrap from nearly dying 4 years ago are like one of those Russian doll sets. Once I open a box, I find another smaller box within. The twist is that, with each box opened, therein lies a treasure at that layer, in addition to the smaller box hiding another treasure along with another smaller box within it. It’s literally a gift that keeps on giving. I still face stiff challenges in what I’ve set out to do with my second lease on life. Some days, I’m firmly in my limited human self, with the fear and discouragement proffered by my ego threatening to paralyze me. Yet, I never doubted that the accident happened for me. I choose to live as though everything in this life is a miracle.

Allowing life to work for us

One of the books I’m currently reading is Marianne Williamson’s The Law of Divine Compensation. At the beginning of the book, Williamson talks about the self-organizing and self-correcting nature of the Universe—the universal principle that’s the namesake of her book. In a nutshell, the law is about universal forces seeking to compensate for any lack in our lives to restore us to our natural state of abundance.

The Law of Divine CompensatioWhen we take a course of action that turns out not to be for our best for any reason, we always have the opportunity to course-correct. Like a good GPS device, the Universe recalibrates from the wrong turn we’ve taken and offers a new alternate route to get us to our intended destination. However, it’s still up to us to decide whether to follow that route. It’s critical that we recognize our mistake, and surrender our attachment to our preconceived route of how things must unfold—and when—and allow ourselves to be guided to take the corrected course of action.

Tying this back to the central thesis of this article, we won’t believe the self-correcting, compensating nature of universal forces unless we’re willing to believe that life happens for us, not to us. If we’re too busy punishing ourselves for screwing up or resenting others—or life—for causing us pain, we disallow this self-correction of life. As long as we identify ourselves as the victim of circumstances and dwell in the unfairness of bad things happening to us, we block the compensatory actions for us seeking our attention. If we’re willing to believe that miracles abound in life, we open ourselves to possibilities beyond what our rational mind can think up.

To close, let me offer a quote from Dr. Robert Holden:

Some people go through life, others grow through life.

We go through life when we believe that things simply happen to us with no rhyme or reason, and all we can do is passively react to life. We grow through life when we’re willing to believe that there are gifts contained in every unpleasant situation—all without denying the valid emotions that come with upsets and challenges. When we choose to go through life, there are no miracles, just randomness. When we embrace growing through life, we surrender to the miraculous journey for which we signed up the day we chose to incarnate in this lifetime.

Over to you: What do you believe? Does life happen for or to you? If you used to believe differently, what made you change your perspective? Would love for you to join the conversation in the comment box below.

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About Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Dr. Alice Chan is passionate about developing conscious leaders and organizations. Her path to serve her life purpose has included being an award-winning Cornell professor and a leader in the corporate world for nearly 15 years. She’s the author of the book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life, and creator of the program, 30 Days to Living Your Best Life. All content on this blog and website is her own, not the opinions of her employer.

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12 comments
jaqstone
jaqstone

I love this post, Alice. It's so easy to slip into victim mentality but that keeps us entirely powerless to change anything. Once you consciously choose to look for the gift in everything you begin to discover that all you've ever received has been gifts.

EmeliaSam
EmeliaSam

Great post, Alice. I've always believed...well, not always - but for some time now- that life happens with us, not to us. So many of us think of unfortunate circumstances as being punishment and we questions why.  Although it's really hard sometimes, we have to remember that we ascribe meanings to experience. All circumstances are neutral. It's what we do with them.  Your friends exemplify this concept beautifully. 

cap99
cap99

HI Alice- 

I didn't really like reading this post, because it made me uncomfortable.  Ha.  It is exactly what I needed to hear.  I feel like the universe just slapped me upside the head.  It just jerked me into the present.  Thanks!  I needed that.  I have been doing way too many things lately, plus, waiting for the cold windy dreary NY weather to change has left me feeling drained and kind of depressed.  I feel like the word shift from To to For, has given me a great subtle shift in language.

AlliPolin
AlliPolin

Alice, 

I love this post.  i still have woe is me moments but far less when I think about life as a gift.  I can either choose to be the teenager I once was that gave thumbs down to gifts as if they had to be perfect or I can embrace the blessings in the everyday.  My aunt has a terrible incurable disease and for the past 10 years her body has been breaking down and now she can no longer physically move.  Several years ago I was with her when someone told her how awful they felt for her and how terrible her situation must be... my aunt responded that this is her life.  She has beautiful children and grandchildren and nieces and nephews and complaining won't change anything.  Reminds me of the people that you describe here.   

A sincere thanks for the reminder that it's up to us to reframe the questions we ask and that we always have a choice.  Appreciate you!

Harleena Singh
Harleena Singh

Beautifully written Alice,

I loved the three cases you shared above, each one different from the other yet with a lot of meaning. Life happens for me, or at least with time I am trying for it. I say that because there are still many moments I feel that life is happening to me as I go with the flow of it, especially when you have a family and kids to see to - it's tough to take out just the 'me' time in such cases - but yes, like I said - that's what I'm trying for. :)

Thanks for sharing this with us. :)

Deone_Higgs
Deone_Higgs

I'd definitely say that life happens for me. It has all along, but as you said here, it took me quite some time to become conscious of the fact. In many ways, I believe losing my mother two years ago did it for me, Alice. After her passing away I experienced a most difficult time with a few of her siblings that spilled over into the rest of the family having to choose sides. Needless to say, it wasn't my side they picked. I was dumbfounded, angry, and so completely distraught that I contemplated taking my life as well. It was in that very moment I had an awakening experience that set me on the current journey I have been on every since. The funny thing is after much reflection over how this could ever happen "to" me, I realized that it had been occurring every since I was old enough to remember. I could really relate to what you've written here, because over the last couple of years the lights came on for me, where I begin to see that things had been happening all along that positioned me to this very moment. I can only feel a huge amount of gratitude for being able to open my eyes and begin seeing the miracle that my life has been over the course of a lifetime. I used to dread about what my future would be. Now, I'm not so worried about it. I am more certain that it will continue to unfold as it should, totally on purpose. An awesome read, my sister. I enjoyed reading the inspiring cases, as well. Thanks for sharing them with us here. Blessings. 

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

@jaqstone I completely agree, Jacqueline, that there's a gift in every experience, no matter how objectively traumatic it might be to our human self. Thank you for your comment.

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

@EmeliaSam Many thanks for adding your insights, Emelia. Love the perspective of life happening "with" us. We do co-create with the universe in this life, so "with" is absolutely perfect! And, you're also right on in terms of the fact that we ascribe meaning to neutral events. "Good" vs. "bad" is human interpretation, even if we have some pretty established agreement on what mostly belongs in which category. Still, the bottom-line is that it's still interpretation, collective notwithstanding. Thank you, Emelia!

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

@cap99 Many thanks for your honest comment! Yes, I can certainly attest to how sometimes the messages we don't want to hear are exactly the ones we need. Kind of like the point of this piece about perspective. Even if the message is a little hard to swallow, when we can get to the place of recognizing that it's *for* our highest good, it takes some of the sting out, if not completely. A friend of mine hates it every time I said that my near-fatal car wreck in 2008 was a gift--because he couldn't imagine this world without me--but it's the truth. I wasn't able to see it that way during my challenging recovery. But the accident most certainly happened *for* me. Thank you for joining in this conversation, and I'm glad that the shift in language is helpful.

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

@AlliPolin Many thanks, Alli, for adding your comments and insights. Your aunt is a great woman. Happiness research consistently shows that those who are handicapped actually are happier than those of us with 4 limbs. It's because they appreciate life just as it is. I'm so with you in terms of having my "poor me" moments--it's an artifact of being human--but knowing to reframe things consciously. Really appreciate your sharing here, and I appreciate knowing you as well, Alli! Grateful to social media for connecting us!

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

@Harleena SinghMany thanks, Hareleena, for adding your comments. Yes, as human beings, it isn't a natural thing for us to see life happening for us, especially when facing challenges. It does take consciousness to see with that perspective, as demonstrated in the 3 cases in this article. The more we're able to view life that way, the less we get swept up in the throes of life in reactionary mode. No doubt it's a balancing act with a family, children and a professional life as well. Appreciate your candid comments!

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

@Deone Higgs Many thanks for your great share, Deone! Yes, it seems that most, if not all, awake from a big loss or a traumatic event in their lives. In some ways, it makes sense. If everything is just moving along swimmingly, we'll have no reason to challenge our existing way of thinking. We do truly grow through our challenges. If we don't become bitter because of them, they can truly enlighten us. When we see life's unfolding as miracles in the waiting, there is nothing truly to fear, as you pointed out in your insightful comment. Very grateful for your contribution to this conversation, brother! Many blessings to you!

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