Humans 101

Is It a Tragedy or a Transition?

Life becomes less devastating when you learn to celebrate the tough stuff

Well, well, well. Here we are, in the throes of a pandemic with no end in sight, surrounded by a million reasons to hate life—job loss, homelessness, illness, fear and anxiety, stress, stress, and more stress. Many of us are being put through the wringer right now as we try to juggle working from home with homeschooling kids, “occasional” day drinking, and a desperate need for personal time and self-care. Looking around, many of us can probably name 10 things to hate right now.

As an eternal optimist, however, I like to look at the other side of pessimistic coins and find the message in the mess, the blessings and the lessons, and the beauty in the beast. Because of this, I tend to celebrate life events that others may see as tragic. But I ask you: Is it a tragedy or a transition?

They say that when one door closes, another opens, and I find this to be true. However, this adage does not mention that sometimes you’re the one who has to build the doors. Some opportunities appear to us, while others are discovered by us because of a series of baby steps we’ve taken that bleed into our larger journeys. Still, this mantra is an optimistic one that urges us to look on the bright side of things. You may have lost your job, spouse, home, or an opportunity you’ve been counting on, and naturally, losing anything or anyone feels like a letdown. But one of the most extraordinary facts of life is that if we live long enough, everything starts to make sense.

When you get another job with higher pay and better benefits, or when you finally start that business you’ve been talking about, you realize why you had to be pushed out of your old employer’s nest.

If we live long enough, everything starts to make sense.

When you finally meet the person who perfectly complements you and makes you happy, you don’t miss or even think about your exes. It makes sense why none of those relationships worked out, and you’re glad they didn’t.

After months or years of bunking with your parents or roommates after your finances changed and you could no longer afford to live on your own, you feel relieved when you’re able to move into a new home. However, this time around, you’ll live below your means and make more money while saving more and spending less. That one hiccup in time taught you a lot and set you up for a more secure future.

There are moments in our lives that, at the time, feel like a tragedy, and it isn’t until later that we realize they were actually transitions. Though they were uncomfortable, we wouldn’t change them for anything because of the gems we found along our journeys. Still, it’s sometimes challenging to feel optimistic about the future when we are in the midst of our pain. It feels counterintuitive to celebrate when everything seems to be going wrong, but that’s exactly what you should do.

Everything that seems like a tragedy is actually a transition waiting to be realized. But why wait until years from now to recognize that your blessings often come in disguise? Rip the mask from the face of your tragedies as they happen and reveal your transitions right away.

When “bad” things happen, celebrate them, because it means something extraordinary is just on the horizon.

As soon as you lose your job, know it’s because there is a better one waiting for you to come and get it. As much as your recent breakup hurts right now, know that after some soul work, you’ll be open to finding someone better suited to you. When your finances get weird and you have to seek refuge, be grateful for a chance to start over again and then intensely focus on what it’ll take to make your next level better than the last.

When “bad” things happen, celebrate them, because it means something extraordinary is just on the horizon. Celebrate them knowing that nothing is ever really bad, though it definitely feels that way. So much of the tragedy we think we’re experiencing is an opportunity to transition into a fuller, more meaningful life. Don’t put off feeling hopeful until the plot unfolds.

Feel hopeful now, knowing the plot almost always unfolds to reveal that the pain was only a temporary bump in the road to your purpose, that there was a message in the middle of all that mess—as well as blessings, lessons, and magnificent beauty in the beast.

3x New York Times bestselling author, copywriter, and columnist.

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