Recent layoffs among several people I know have prompted responses from well-wishers, telling the newly unemployed they'll "be in a better place" one day and "when one door shuts, another opens"...blah, blah, blah.
While I believe these statements can be true, there's a catch. It's up to you to open the next door to get to a better place. It doesn't automatically open. This pertains to jobs, or cancer, or any other disappointment in life.
Some people I know responded to their layoff by aggressively applying for jobs, networking, heading to the gym and keeping a positive attitude--which ultimately lead them to their dream job. Others headed to the bar, sat on their backsides and decided to be bitter.
A friend shared his fear of wasting his life due to working long hours and not having a Hemingway-like adventure every weekend. While I don't endorse workaholics or couch potatoes, it's not a job or lack of fun that wastes a life.
Rather, it's wallowing in anger, depression, fear and bitterness in response to life's challenges. Instead of moving forward with courage, you become paralyzed in your grief.
Life CAN be better when bad things happen to good people if you rise to the occasion. It's becomes better because it changes you -- you grow up, get a new perspective, learn to handle problems. Tough times can deepen you, pulling you out of your self-centered, self-absorbed, childish, all-about-me context.
And becoming a deeper, less selfish person is what allows you to live a richer, more fulfilling life.
Changing for the better is earned the hard way--the way we all try to avoid--through pain and suffering. But in the long run--by plowing ahead with courage--you can look back and say, "I'm in a better place because this happened."