Existential Psychology

Silver Lining

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Imagine a middle aged guy who has a heart attack and almost dies. Most of us will qualify this event as a bad thing. But what if, due to coming face to face with his mortality, he starts to make some important life changes. His doctors inform him his lifestyle is unhealthy, which he already knew, but now he begins to take the fact seriously. He starts exercising, eating healthier, and finding ways to lower his stress levels. He also spends more time with his family, and really starts to appreciate the small things, becoming more aware of the precariousness and miraculousness of his existence.

Now can we really call his heart attack a ‘bad’ thing? Without it, he would have kept living the same way he had before, and it’s entirely possible that a heart attack a few years down the road would have been even more massive and killed him. ‘Every cloud has its silver lining’ is one of those expressions that isn’t going anywhere. It reveals a profound truth that most of us don’t spend much time considering. There is usually the possibility of good embedded in the bad.

Of course, it presupposes that you look for and become aware of this hidden truth rather than simply staying mired in self-pity, learning nothing from the experience. It’s tempting to only focus on the bad when bad things happen to you, but most of the time you played some part in what happened, and if you can learn what that part was you can change your life for the better.