Though we all like to think that everything happens for a reason, sometimes there is no meaning behind the negative events in our lives. Sometimes bad things just happen. Sometimes there isn’t a purpose.
And yet life moves forward. How do we learn to cope with tragedy? How do we manage our reaction when life seems random and unfair?
We must first recognize that emotions—especially negative ones—become “sticky.” That means that when something bad happens to us, we hold on to those emotions. Then, when good things happen, we are unable to appreciate or recognize them because we are holding on to the negative emotions surrounding the previous event. This prevents us from seeing the joy in life and appreciating its beauty.
The key to moving beyond the randomness of life is to not place these sticky negative emotions ahead of the positive ones. Your emotions are real, valuable, and important—all of them, good and bad. Nevertheless, we tend to assign greater importance to certain emotions, usually the harmful ones. I think it comes from the old adage “Work before play.” But this is not a balanced approach. We should value all our emotions equally.
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The bad emotions that accompany hard times are inevitable. But in those same moments, good things will happen, and you should celebrate them fully. Celebrating good emotions and recognizing the good, even during adversity, can help you sort through the randomness of life and see a path forward.
People who successfully navigate tragedies are able to find joy in the small things. Slowly, over time, their joy becomes infectious. From that infectious joy come new beginnings.