Why do bad things happen to me? – Part 2

What is bad?

This is first question I ask myself. I sincerely try to define why I call something bad. If we sit down to define the word bad it really becomes a difficult task.
1.Bad is something, which is not good for me.
2.Bad is an unexpected result.
3.Bad is an expected result, but I do not like the result.

Is it really so simple, may be there are other definitions also. I don’t think it is that simple. There are a lot of phrases, proverbs which come to my mind which help me define bad or – rather makes me understand that I cannot define what is bad.

Let us take some proverbs which are supposed to be good and guide us in life
Opposites attract – Birds of the same feather flock together.
Too many cooks spoil the broth. – Many hands make light work.

I see the proverbs that are opposite of each other. So which one of the proverbs is bad and which one is good. If I look at it closely both are good and bad depending on the perspective from which I am looking at them.

Not only with proverbs there has been instances in history, which intrigues me. There have been many instances which prove that what was good at one point of time proves to be bad at another point of time and vice-versa.

There have been many cases ranging from politics to science and technology where bad had become good and good has become bad.

Let us take politics to begin with.

Good becomes Bad
The Americans support the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan to fight the Russian oppressors. They felt they were helping democracy fight communism. They thought they were doing good. This happened in 1979-89. The Russians finally withdrew.13 years later the same Mujaheddin hit at the heart of Americas killing thousands.

Funny the good act of helping Mujahideen has turned into a bad act for the Americans in a period of 13 years.

Same is case for India under Indira Gandhi, nurtured LTTE for whatever reasons, but the same LTTE comes back to kill Rajiv Gandhi. India at one point thought they were helping Tamils in Srilanka survive.

Bad becomes Good
A simple case would be British occupation of India seems like a bad deal. But I think in the long run it is good. If India continued we would be having so many different countries in the place we call India now. Maybe Tamilnadu would have declared an armed war with Karnataka now.

But the British occupation is sole reason we are together. Only somebody really foolish can judge that being as a country together and using each strengths and weakness as complimentary to each other’s state as bad. Yes we have problems but being separate we will have bigger problems. It would be like the small countries in Africa like Namibia, Angola, Ghana which keep on fighting while people are starving to death.

Let us look at science/technology.

Good becomes Bad
The American inventor Oliver Evans designed the first refrigeration machine in 1805. He thought it was good, people will able to preserve food, hunger will be reduced etc.

In reality 1985, scientists discover the ozone, responsible for global warming, rising water, annihilation of coastal in the years to come, lesser rains. The cooling agents in the refrigerators have become unsuspecting weapons of mass destruction.

I am not advocating against technology or growth but it would have impossible at that point to judge that refrigeration can be so harmful. A blessing for mankind turned into a curse.

Bad becomes Good
Any scientist in history was termed either an anti-Christ or mad by the society till time proved otherwise. The examples are enormous. There have been cases in which the scientist had been put to death because he proposed the theory of the solar system and earth not being flat.

What seemed bad to society and people at that point have been accepted as good things that has happened in human history.

The concept of everything in this world is Maya or illusion according to Hindu philosophy.


The statement by a westerner that ” The entire world is a stage and we are all actors doing our roles.”

Practically speaking, killing another human being is bad but not when he is an enemy soldier from across the border.

Driving slow is good but bad for a driver on the race track or driver of an ambulance taking a patient with heart attack to hospital.

So this where I end up. I find it difficult to define bad. So I question myself that “Can I judge something bad?”

Well it is a tough question. We can only judge something good or bad depending on the knowledge we have at that particular point of time.

Because as we all know the past is gone, no point in thinking or worrying about it, but it is a good teacher. History as I explained has taught us “What is good now will not always be good and what is bad will not always be bad”.

When I think through this I realize that I cannot really with full confidence judge something that has happened as bad.

When I cannot classify an event that happened as bad.The question “Why bad things happen to me?” changes to “Why things happen to me?”. Because I cannot call what had happened that day as bad anymore.

Once I stop calling that thing as bad. I don’t feel bad or sad about it. Please note I am not happy about it either. But I come to peace with myself and the world. I tell myself “Okay this happened this way it might have better if it had happened the way I expected it. But as history or time tells, you never know it is good or bad. So I will take this event a little easy and look forward to a better tomorrow.”

I feel relaxed after going through this thought process. I go and lie on my bed and close my eyes. More or less I am fast asleep in 5 minutes. During earlier times, I could not sleep at all.


  1. Quote
    Karthik said August 12, 2009, 8:10 am:


    Nice thoughts on “what is bad”. Excellent examples on how bad becomes good and good turns out to bad.
    As you said, bad or good is a relative term across several dimensions like people, time etc., I am sure everyone of us would have encoutered some situation where we felt bad in past and felt good at the later point of time.

    We have an adage saying “Everything happens for good”, even a bad happens for some good reason or cause. We should consider bad or good, happy or sad, postive or negative as same. But developing this attitude is not simple and it is a continuos exercise in our life.


  2. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said August 12, 2009, 8:33 am:

    Interesting follow up Kumaran. I would advocate this approach – when bad has happened, feel sad/unhappy whatever for sometime, reflect/analyze what happened and determine if there is anything to learn to prevent future bad.

    I would not advocate simply ignoring the bad and moving on.

  3. Quote


    Thanks Karthik for comment. You said /* We should consider bad or good, happy or sad, postive or negative as same. */

    Yes that is the key point but it difficult practically. It comes with practice.

    Personally I am not an expert , but as in some competency scale – I would call myself a practitioner. Someday I might be expert.

  4. Quote


    I agree with not to ignore the bad. I did not mean to ignore “bad”. Maybe something in the post conveys that message, that was not the intention.

    I am saying using the adjective “bad” before a result is very shaky. “A result which I did not like” would be a better way to define it. Or better still at this point of time with my current knowledge “I am not able to understand how this is good or positive”.

    Then as you say look for things like
    1. OK let me see is there something to make it more positive
    2. Is there any positives/negatives to this that I am not thinking about

    Basically being less judgemental and more objective. Kind of putting it crudely “A mercernary / professional” like frame of mindset when anlaysing and abosrbing the results.

  5. Quote

    Kumaran – Thought provoking post.

    Personally, I rue (what I think are) bad outcomes on that day – but the next day, I put things in perspective: Will I feel this bad 3 months/1 year/5 years down the line? I feel bad, but has it really caused any damage? What can I learn from this & move on?

    I also find that, doing my very best during execution & not expecting much when its time for the outcome – helps me a lot. Bracing oneself helps lessen the impact too. It also helps us come to terms with what has happened quickly – and also helps us realize that probably what has happened isn’t bad at all/not all that bad.

  6. Quote

    Thought provoking post.
    But this one may also provoke commenters.
    Particularly the usage of larger political events like British occupation to determine the personal perceptions-what is good and what not?.
    let me jot down my own perception on this.
    The American support of Mujahideen was a political move America done in its own self interest.It isn`t fair not considering the historical contexts.It can still be considered as a good tactical move made to keep the soviets bankrupT.The attacks on U.S, years later ,does not make the earlier political move a bad strategy but its own inability in guaging the present might of the attackers…
    Same with the LTTE.While it was necessary to support LTTE in particular situation,it would have been a blunder to do so in another situation…I think that is the way nations work..
    Also the British did not come to the land to consolidate India as a nation.But we managed to use the difficult situation to our own advantage.That does not make the exploitation across centuries a good thing…Had the East India Company not come to India,nobody will be able to conclude the present state of affairs ;may be a renaissance in the Indian subcontinent!!,may be we would have been in a better position in the world;may be the exchange of ideas between the east and west would have occured without being exploited.
    While I agree with the fact that events that may appear good at times may turn out bad,or vice versa, when judged years later;it should not bother us from acting according to our present conviction and facing the challenges.

  7. Quote
    Kumaran said August 12, 2009, 5:52 pm:


    Thanks for the comments.

  8. Quote
    Kumaran said August 12, 2009, 5:59 pm:


    Yes I agree I am taking a very minimalistic view of larger political events. Each once is a topic for hundereds of Phd work in history. They have a lot of background and context.

    Your points about US and why it did what it did is valid. At that point of time any sane person in U.S would have done the same even me. That was a good thing at that point of time and had to be done.

    It is just that think/do what we consider good at the current context which in all probability might be not valid in a different of time or geography.

    So the larger the scope of our thinking then it becomes very difficult to judge or predict. I guess that is beauty of nature. Being human we cannot every perspective / impact /side-effect of actions. This being said we are also in same position to judge stuff as good or bad with high confidence.

  9. Quote
    Karthik said August 12, 2009, 7:09 pm:


    Nice to know that you are at practitioner level. Good luck for your journey in the spiritual path. I would also consider myself at the same level.

  10. Quote
    Vinodhkumar.R said August 12, 2009, 7:30 pm:

    Hi Kumaran,

    Well written…

    The topic of what’s good and what’s bad is on a high level very intrinsic to the individual.

    There is no benchmark or Yardstick for terming something as bad. Bad Is Absolutely Relative.

    But my small thought is, this is where lies the beauty of human lives and endeavors. Sometimes mistakes have to be committed and we have to hit roadblocks to wake up. That would make our journeys more memorable.

  11. Quote

    Excellent analysis and thoughts Kumaran. For me, what are the things can be foresee and plan for it and execute it, all are good. For example, i knew that my contract with previous company expired on some date, i planned for it and worked hard for a new contract hence my business didn’t fail on old contract expired date. The things can not be foresee are bad things. For example, i walk on the road and a car hits me and badly injures my leg, it is a bad event. First i used think it is bad but after some time, meaning getting all necessary help, i don’t think it is bad rather make all plans to recover fast from the accident. But we have some limitations to foresee everything, you mentioned those are brilliantly in this post. There are some things we should avoid as i said previously, for example i got allegoric reactions when ever i eat shrimp, which is bad and i shouldn’t eat it *period*

  12. Quote


    the famous gita saying “Whatever happens, it happens for the goodness”, seems to be a summary in one line of this post..

    To me, nothing is good or bad.. only situation makes it.. we need to treat daily happenings as incidents.. probably, we can only categorize it as favorable / unfavorable, and take steps according to it..

  13. Quote

    I agree with arun.. british colonisation can never be a good thing for us.. most of the indians are not taught the real history in our text books, and thanks to internet, we have lot to know today..

    If we just consider the bengal famine part of the british colonisation, we can never recover from the shock.. There were around 20 famines in bengal, created just because of extensive shifting of wealth away from bengal to britain, which deprived all local economy.. it all happened inspite of bengal being the most fertile region..

    Nearly one third of the population perished because of famines created artificially because the britishers forced farmers to cultivate opium and other cash crops for their business.. Can we ever imagine one third of the population perishing out of an artificial famine..

    In all aspects, british colonialism could never be a good thing..

    Even in education, the native state of mysore and bellary, had 100% literacy and free education during 18th century, when other parts of british india lagged behind..

  14. Quote
    Kumaran said August 13, 2009, 8:05 am:


    thanks for the wishes

    Interesting point – Categorize things which I could not forsee as bad.


    There is not anything in th world which has some good component. Nature always make sure there a Yin-Yang.
    If I cannot see something opposite of what is obvious then I know at the back of the mind I am missing something.

    But at danger digressing from the objective of this post just one comment.
    Without the Bristish, I don’t see how India have been integrated as a single unit. I can only see as being independant countries. A President/prime minister like MK or Ramadoss would happily declared war on Karnataka or Kerala for water problems.

  15. Quote


    /** Without the Bristish, I don’t see how India have been integrated as a single unit. I can only see as being independant countries. A President/prime minister like MK or Ramadoss would happily declared war on Karnataka or Kerala for water problems.

    Linguistic states are very recent invention.. Before that, there is no karnataka or the kerala or the states that you mention.. Historically, india had around 51 nations, the names which i dont know.. we need to consider the regional groupings before judging on whether its good or bad..

    For example, in tamilnadu, the thanjavur region has its own characterisitc and attributes it to chola mandalam.. so as the southern pandiya naadu.. and the north thondai mandalam, which extends in to part of andhra pradesh..

    Similarly in the west, its kongu naadu, which extends in to part of kerala, and karnataka.. historically, it belonged to mysore kingdom..

    So as in andhrapradesh, the telengana, royaseelama etc.. In maharashtra, only the marathwada region is the core maratha speaking region, which raj thackeray often claims for marathi manoos.. the konkana region has its different characteristics..

    In Bihara, the mythilai region has its own characteristics, and there are demands that separate state be formed for mythilai region..

    so, we cannot exactly predict how india would be based on present circumstances..

    If Japan had won the WW-II, india would be under Nethaji control.. and india would be different today with different setup, right from pakistan to bangladesh to even tibet.. (actually japan was equally researching in to atomic bomb, and if it had first developed it, then america would be the first casuality).

  16. Quote


    I would also like to point another quote from gita.. krishan says, he is the good, and he is the bad.. both good and bad are the aspect of the eternal god.. can this mean, what you have said.. the thing that appears to good to us may be a bad for others and viceversa.. since god is common to all he is neutral to good and bad..

  17. Quote


    Personally I don’t believe in Krishna or god. But there are tenets of Gita I do appreciate.

    Yes the basic point is good/bad needs to be looked at neutrally without emotinally getting drained and focus on action that can be taken.

    The practical part of doing is so difficult. The post is an excercise of what we can go through mentally to realign our thinking so our heart feels light and peacful for us to take next practical steps.

  18. Quote

    Here is my thoughts.

    1) The first stage is getting maturity that when some bad things happens, realize that “could have happened for good”, This realization depends on many factor like experience / brought up etc. If it is through experience, it may take years for example after a particular bad incident happened, a person may start thinking/realizing that it had happened for good after 2 years of the incident or 5 years or may even 10 years later or could never realize in his life time and keep on asking / blaming “Why only me”?

    2) In the second stage. Life is teaching people at their different age of life and give them maturity on how to look at bad things.
    2.1) Declaring bad as “BAD” and console our self saying it has happened / could have happened for good. This is from our prior experience / had realized in past some bad has turned out to be good.
    2.2) Though we console our self that “bad is for good cause”, the declaration status of the incident is still “BAD”. Only if bad is declared as “BAD” it can be prevented in the future.

    3) In the third stage, after consoling our self for years that “bad is for good cause” we tend to ignore bad things. Which means we don’t prevent them in future. We slowly get into a stage of not declaring incidents as “BAD” or “GOOD”. Getting into this stage may take years or even births.

    4) if we don’t declare Good/Bad for incidents in our life, we can neither prevent “BAD” nor wish “GOOD. We don’t have any drive/focus in the life to go for. So what next?

    Dont get into trap. If you look for one day sleep by consoling yourself bad is for good cause, you will finally end up with no drive in life.

  19. Quote
    Kumaran said August 15, 2009, 8:39 pm:


    Thanks for your thoughts. I think somehow the english seems to convey that “Bad things also could be good so don’t do anything about it.”

    The post is who you feel/think about something. I did not say don’t act. Maybe last sentence go to sleep is misleading. I should have finished it “Go and sleep peacfully and look at situation do something about full of energy”.

    Please read the previous comment also here.

  20. Quote
    Kumaran said August 16, 2009, 7:14 am:

    Somehow this post is a meesage about inaction. That is not intended. So I thought will quickly address.

    This address point A of the steps in handling a situtation which is typically classifed as bad.
    A. Delink your emotion from the result in front of you. Emotions cloud our thinking.
    B. Brutally anlayze the facts
    C. Based on the facts and anlaysis, go do the right thing.

    This post does not address B and C. People usually know how to do B&C.

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