I'm sure everyone has come across the idea that life is one giant classroom. The first time I heard this, I must have been reading the Conversation With God books by Neale Donald Walsch. Although that book may be just a tad bit hippie dippie (and by that, I mean new agey), the idea itself is not too bad.
To elaborate on the idea, it basically states that everything that happens in your life happened to teach you something. If you're into new age and/or Eastern Philosophy, you might equate these lessons with your karma. If you're into Judeo-Christian theology, you might say that God placed these lessons there for you. Or if you're an agnostic / atheist, you might say that you only have one life to live, and if something happens, you might as well learn something from it.
This idea takes a whole lot of effort to actually enact. To honestly believe and embody the idea that everything, EVERYTHING, happens for a reason and can teach you something is no small task. It's hard to believe that the 19 year old cancer patient died for a reason. It's hard to believe that millions of small children die every day for a reason. It's hard to believe that the bad guy often wins, and that the good guy often loses for a reason.
In fact, you might say that there is no reason for these things. You'd be right on, too. The only reason for these things is the reason you place behind them. The context you choose for life events affect what they mean to you. However, if something tragic happens, no amount of "that sucks"-ing is going to make it unhappen. Might as well learn something from it. Might as well accept that it's perfectly okay that it happened.
The only danger with this philosophy is that you might fall into the victim trap of reactivity. Instead of taking responsibility for your life, you might begin to think, "Well, x was supposed to happen, so why give a damn?" And that's the double edged sword of life. The double edge best summed up in the Serenity Prayer: Lord, give me the strength to accept the things I can't change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." Amen, indeed.
Life is a giant classroom. What lesson is on the agenda for today?