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The Blessings in Disguise We Don’t Realize We’ve Received

Looking

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings” ~Henry Ward Beecher

I’m a calm person by nature, but like everybody else, there are a few things that get my blood, at the very least, simmering. One of them used to be inconveniences.

Our daily lives are filled with delays, missed opportunities, setbacks, and outright nuisances. It happens to us all.

Missing a bus and being late for work. Being locked out of the house for four hours when you have an urgent exam to prepare for, with all your notes on the other side of the door. Having your new, shiny Blackberry slip out of your pocket on the bus and only realizing half an hour after stepping off.

Yes, these have specifically happened to me. And there’s plenty more where they came from too.

They may not seem like the end of the world, because of course, they aren’t. But at the time, they always feel like a big deal and they always happen at the worst possible time. Right on cue, I suppose.

A few years ago while in my second year at university in my home city, London, I experienced a small inconvenience that made me change my outlook altogether. That academic year, I had taken up a language class, but rather than being at my usual campus in London Bridge, it was at the Strand.

I would take the Underground to my evening Arabic class at the Strand campus every Thursday. I took the same route from London Bridge every week. And on my journey home, I would go via the renowned Victoria train station every week at exactly the same time.

On one particular occasion, I was, for a reason I can’t remember now, in a very foul mood (probably another inconvenience). I missed my day of lectures due to an underestimated morning errand run and was now also running late for my evening class.

I then inconveniently missed three consecutive buses due to a sea of blue-uniform-wearing school kids swarming every bus on my route.

And of course, to fit the London picture perfectly, I was getting heavily rained on, as I had inconveniently left my umbrella at home and didn’t have the time or energy to run back and get it. I was going to miss my lesson no matter what I did at this point.

Naturally, I was angry, frustrated that the one thing that could have taken my mind off of my mood was now also gone. Furious, I decided to accept defeat.

The following day, I read in the paper that in exactly the spot in Victoria station at exactly the time I would have been making my way back home from the lesson there was a tragic murder.

Had I gone to my lesson, I would have been caught up in a horrendous tragedy. I could have been hurt physically or at the very least witnessed something so horrific it would have left me traumatized for life. I was then more than grateful for only being in a bad mood and missing my class.

There are several similar situations I’ve come to learn of, some of much greater scale than my story. I heard of a woman making her way to work, almost reaching the office, when her heel snapped and she had to return home to change her shoes. She was unsurprisingly frustrated for being late for work.

But at her stop-over at home, she had dodged being crushed under rubble in the falling Twin Towers on 9/11. She may have been aggravated earlier, and she was likely devastated for the lives lost, but she was later grateful hers wasn’t one of them.

I’ve heard another story of a woman who inconveniently had to leave work to pick up her sick child from school. Frustrated, she left work, drove to the school, and brought her child home.

When she realized this inconvenience saved her child from the shooting at her Connecticut school, she felt fortunate for the disruption.

It is, of course, tragic that anyone has to experience this type of suffering and loss, but it’s also tragic that we don’t always recognize just how fortunate we are.

These things happen every day; we just don’t know about it.

We’ll miss a bus and be late for work. We’ll get sick and miss a life-changing job interview. But we have no idea what hardship or calamity we’ve just dodged.

Nonetheless, we experience blessings in disguise in small ways every day.

We might have just missed an event that could have cost us our wealth, our health, or even our lives. We just don’t know it. And majority of the time, we never will.

Let’s open our minds to this new perspective to change how we internalize disappointments and annoyances. While my story may stem from trivial inconveniences, we can also apply this attitude to more serious problems and adversities in our lives.

Here’s my two-cents.

1. Appreciate that it could have been worse.

However bad a circumstance seems and feels, it could always be worse. It may seem unnatural and perhaps silly to think of hypothetical situations when you have a real problem at hand; but thinking of all the ways the situation could have been worse makes it so much easier to accept and deal with it.

2. Trust that everything happens for a reason.

Whether good or bad, there’s a reason behind everything. In the words of Marilyn Monroe, “People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies to you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”

3. Have faith in blessings in disguise.

It may have saved you from something worse, or brought you closer to something better. Even if neither of these are true, then they at the very least, it made you a stronger person and taught you something. And that is always a good thing.

4. Share your experience with the people around you.

If you do happen to find out how a particular problem gifted you with a blessing, share it with everyone you know so they can benefit too. The more we openly recognize how we’re fortunate, the happier and more content we will be.

Let’s change how we think about inconveniences, missed opportunities, and problems, because oftentimes, it is for the best; we might just not know it.

Photo by jk+too

Avatar of Sara Davies

About Sara Davies

Sara is a writer, blogger and aspiring author from London, England. She's also a dental student training for her licence to drill. She can be found at saraidavies.wordpress.com and on Twitter @saradavies_

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  • http://selfstairway.com/ Vincent Nguyen

    That’s a very scary thought to be able to realize. Sara. That “what if,” is difficult to live with but when you use a positive mindset like you are, it becomes a great sign of hope.

    I like the idea of having faith in the blessings in disguise. I wonder how many are out there that I may have missed without even taking a second look. Makes me very grateful for the opportunities that DID happen because I went another direction than previous intended. Life is beautiful when you think these ways.

  • http://twitter.com/SaraDavies_ Sara Davies

    That’s exactly it Vincent, imagine all those times we’ve had something stop us from going in one direction in our lives. Even in the literal sense, such as a closed off road and having to take another route – we don’t give them a second thought. But every one of them is a huge blessing and we must have had thousands of these in our lifetime. I agree, it really is a great way to stay grateful. Thank you for your comment!

  • friend forever

    Sara,

    A great post! I really loved the 3 instances you shared where the inconveniences turned out to be blessings in disguise. I realized just how many events that I labelled as inconvenient in a day could be used as opportunities to look for the positive and the good that most of the times goes unnoticed.

    I think what Vincent said about the’what if’ is very true. We can work ourselves into panic about what could have been and that might subtly affect our mindset (I hope am not wrong in my interpretation of what Vincent meant!). Overall, I think the it’s best to believe that ‘whatever happens, happens for the absolute best’ :)

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    Love and Peace

  • http://selfstairway.com/ Vincent Nguyen

    You aren’t wrong at all! :)

  • Dee S

    Hi Sara,

    Thank you for writing this lovely article. My husband and I had undergone a failed IVF. For many years, I feel that life isn’t fair. I see pregnant women left and right and yet I just can’t get pregnant. I feel defeated. Your article just changed the way I look at my situation. Maybe there’s a grander plan for me and I should be grateful with what I have now. ;)

  • http://jabjab.me/ PSF (Parvez Sheik Fareed)

    Sara-

    True that. I even would go that far trying to not apply the “what if” scenario, because in many cases you might not gain knowledge of other occurrences (post-fact) that went wrong so that the occurrence remains an unpleasant frustrating experience. Mike Robbins once stated to apply the question “Why is this happening FOR me?” which really puts everything into perspective, esp. when there are major tragic incidents (death, illness etc.) but it is also very true for “smaller” incidents. It will not result in immediate blessing but it will at some point because as you also stated: everything happens for a reason. And I believe life is just heading one way: forward, which is evidenced in evolution and the fact that time is not moving backwards. And moving forward per se is a good thing, so there must be only good ahead. Someday the blessing will display itself and that’s where one will be really thankful because one was able to grow and gain understanding and see the bigger picture.

  • Akemi Gaines

    I’ve read about the people who magically avoided 9/11 tragedy, too. My understanding is we are best to follow our intuition, but if we fail to do so, in an extreme case like these, our spirit guides might make us to do (or don’t do) certain things.

  • http://www.motivationmy.com/ Syaf

    Sara,

    This is a wonderful post! We live in a fast-paced world and it’s hard to take notice of life’s little blessings. It’s good to take a step back from our hectic schedule to appreciate life’s little things.

  • http://halinagoldstein.com/blog Halina Goldstein

    Your article made me think of a parallel pattern: When tragedy strikes (like 9/11 or like loss of a lovedg one) in the aftermath it is often time the seemingly small, insignificant things that trigger the loneliness, the grief, the pain: a smell, a word, a sound…

    Perhaps nothing is really insignificant. While we’re quick to judge what is significant or not, what is a tragedy or not, what is an inconvenience or not, what is an appropriate reaction or not, in most cases we don’t have a clue simply because we don’t see the bigger picture.

    Thank you for opening up to bigger pictures…

    PS: I love the way you write!

  • http://twitter.com/SaraDavies_ Sara Davies

    Hi! Wow that is so heart-warming to hear you say that! That really shows how much strength you have to be able to accept that it may not be written for you and be grateful on top of it too! That’s so amazing. And it’s true – it’s a blessing in some way. Something better is waiting for you – keep faith in that. =)

  • http://twitter.com/SaraDavies_ Sara Davies

    Absolutely! But I guess it just emphasizes how the way we look at it can change the whole experience. While we could become panicked at the ‘what-ifs’, we can change that instantly by snapping back to the moment and just realizing it’s not as bad as it could have been and like you said – believe it’s for the ‘absolute best’.

    Try noticing some of your inconveniences from now on or look back on old ones, you’re bound to have the gift of hindsight at some point and you’ll know the blessing!

    So glad you liked the post, thank you for your comment! =)

  • Mark

    I truly wonder if EVERYTHING happens for a reason.

  • http://twitter.com/JackGrabon Jack Grabon

    We’d probably be quite shocked if we knew about the accidents and negative synchronicities that we have avoided in our lives!

    As we become more sensitive to the energy around us (chi, prana, etc.), we will start to tune into subtler dimensions or reality more and more. And more than just avoiding bad things or inconveniences, we will eventually start to attract more positive things into our lives and appear very “lucky.”

  • Buddhist Dude

    Lovely lovely post

  • http://twitter.com/SaraDavies_ Sara Davies

    I love that – “Why is this happening for me?” as opposed to “to me”. That’s brilliant thanks for sharing that! Couldn’t agree more with your forward thinking!

  • http://twitter.com/SaraDavies_ Sara Davies

    You’re so right Halina! I’ve definitely had the tiniest of things trigger heavy emotions! Exactly, if ever possible, we should try to see the bigger picture, it sure brings clarity to our lives.

    Thank you for your kind words =)

  • http://twitter.com/GoalsHappenHere Goals Happen Here

    I love the idea of sharing these incidents as they occur to us…the more aware we are that something that seems inconvenient might turn out to be a gift, the happier we’ll be as we go through our days.

  • Selina Rogers

    Thanks for sharing this wonderfully written article. Every single day, I am reminded of all that you have written about, especially the first to third points. Now I have to start sharing this with others.

  • friend forever

    Am relieved, Vincent :)

  • friend forever

    Hmmmm….. its about perception, I guess. And noticing ur blessings is undoubtedly one of the most effective and precious ways we have of inviting more of the goodness in our lives

  • Ike

    Hi Sara,
    This is a wonderful piece!, and it’s so true. Thanks so much.
    I remember when I had to wait for hours on a terribly cold night at the airport.

    Our airplane had developed a fault; and our flight was cancelled. It was greatly frustrating as my schedule seemed to have be distorted. But later, it turned out that a portion of our flight fare was refunded to us due to the cancelled flight. I later realised that the money I received from the refund was extremely useful, and that i couldn’t have lived without it.
    Most unpleasant situations have a hidden purpose; and we must learn to accept them