How are you doing with the state of the world?  Have you taken time to stop and reflect?  This year has not been an easy year—COVID 19, racial tension, political mudslinging, economic uncertainty, on top of whatever we each have going on personally.  It feels like the universe is trying to tell us something.  And the truth is, it is.

Everything happens for a reason.  I think most people believe that—but many of us struggle to know what that reason is.  How do we find the meaning in such challenging and seeming random events?

The first thing we have to do is to process our own emotions about what’s happening.  It takes time to process our emotions, and many of us aren’t very good at doing that. Certainly, we have experience processing through our personal emotions, particularly grief, because we’ve had experiences that have forced us to do it.  When it comes to global events, however, we don’t think about them the same way.  They don’t feel as personal, and so we don’t think about how they affect us individually.  We continue to focus on our day-to-day lives without taking the time to acknowledge or address the how we feel about what’s going on around us.  This can leave us with low-grade anxiety and a sort of free-floating stress that we don’t know what to do with.  It is important to take the time to just look at the events and feel about them. By taking the time to identify and feel these emotions, we can move on to the next step.

Second, we need to see a bigger picture.  Once we understand how we feel about the events, we can shift our perspective to see how events are impacting others.  Whether it’s COVID-19 or political upheaval, we all bring a unique perspective to global events.  Staying focused on our small view keeps us from understanding how interconnected we all are.  Isn’t that the message of COVID-19?  Aren’t we wearing masks because we know our breath intermingles?  Can we see the racial injustice as a crime against humanity, rather than a particular group?  Seeing the bigger picture takes empathy and understanding, which forces us to strengthen our emotional intelligence and grow as people.

Finally, we can create meaning.  As cliché as it sounds, everything happens for a reason.  I don’t believe in coincidence.  Even though things can look random, plenty of studies have shown that there is order in chaos.  The good news is, we don’t need to search for a reason.  The universe isn’t hiding the reason from us.  The meaning of events is a very personal thing, and we create it by being in touch with our personal emotions and seeing a broader perspective.  This is what keeps us evolving, learning and growing.  We create meaning by deciding how we want to view circumstances.  What story will you tell about 2020?  Was it the year from hell?  Or was it the year that you learned more about yourself, adjusted your career, deepened your relationships, and grew in your emotional intelligence?  You get to choose whatever meaning you want to create.