Shift Happens!

Why do bad things happen to good people?

I found myself asking this question about a week ago when I learned that a close friend of mine was brutally stabbed with scissors by a mentally ill homeless man in NYC. My friend was out getting fresh air before work and was suddenly attacked in a park. When I found out, I felt many emotions, including deep anger that bad things can happen to good people. My friend is truly one of the nicest people I know and I couldn’t understand how something like this could happen to her. All of my fears about not being able to protect myself (and the ones I love) from bad things and all of my intense control issues surfaced. My trust issues flared up strongly as well. How could I trust a Universe that lets this happen to innocent people?

After much inner reflection, expressing emotions, and mentally processing, I still don’t have the answer of why bad things happen to good people (although there is a popular book about it). But what I realized is that the “why?” doesn’t matter. What does matter is whether I will let something jade me or not. Will a difficult and painful situation make me a stronger person or someone that sees the world as scary, dangerous, and something to fear and fight?

I was lucky enough to be my friend’s first visitor in NYC while she was recovering and when I saw her still shining, still breathing, and actually sharing reasons why she was grateful, something inside of me woke up. I saw the actual demonstration of hope and the positive filter for life that my friend consciously chose. She was grateful for her doctors, the “Good Samaritans” that helped, the DA, her friends, her co-workers and she was most grateful to be alive. She realized it could have been worse. She lived through one of my worst fears: being attacked by a crazy person and she not only survived but she was sharing wisdom and love about the entire scenario. I knew then that NOTHING can stop good people from their true nature if they choose to see the world through the eyes of love and compassion.

My heart started to heal and I stopped watching over my shoulder when I walked around the streets of NY to see friends and business colleagues.And then, all of a sudden, my world shifted again. I was getting off a subway train and a man was chasing me from behind, I turned in shock and he said “wait, you dropped something” and he handed me a bracelet that had broken and fallen off my wrist. It had a small silver angel charm on it. It was a gift I received from AMP, a powerful community of women making history in LA that I’m part of, and I was told by them to pay attention to when it falls off and what happens in that instance. I stopped in disbelief and pure gratitude at the kindness of the stranger. I smiled, said thank you, and watched him rush back to the subway so he didn’t miss the train downtown.

This man took time out of his busy day packed with people and places to go to help me. He showed me that strangers can be angels. He showed me that people do help, are inherently good, and he gave me hope in humanity again. Albert Einstein said, “The most important question a person can ask is; is the Universe a friendly place?”

While, mental illness and the inner and outer violence that we experience as a society is still prevalent, there are billions of kind, gentle, compassionate, loving beings here as well. In my friend’s case she was harmed by one but healed and helped by dozens. So what does she focus on? Well because she is such a positive person she decided to see all the good around her. I know this situation will only strengthen her and for that, I too am grateful. Maybe bad things happen to good people to help us to shift from fear to love, to grow into stronger and better versions of ourselves, and to re-commit to wearing an inner pair of loving lenses as our way of seeing the world.

Live a life that rocks,

Kate Neligan

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