By Kathi Szabo
Serendipity. I never thought much about the word or it’s meaning. For the longest time the word brought visions of Frozen Hot Chocolate and trips into NYC with my kids when they were actually kids. But then I read it while facilitating The Artist’s Way this past fall. “When we answer that call, when we commit to it, we set in motion the principle that C.G. Jung dubbed synchronicity, loosely defined as a fortuitous intermeshing of events. Back in the sixties, we called it serendipity.” (Cameron, 2016,pg 64) Since reading this last September, I am finding serendipity wherever I look! It’s like chance is everywhere!
So what really is Serendipity? It’s when you think of someone and low and behold, they call unexpectedly and brighten your day! Or when you decide to take a break from job hunting and instead go to a yoga class. You start a conversation with the woman next to you and find out she has a position open that is exactly what you are qualified for and what you have been searching for! The most famous example of Serendipity is the discovery of Penicillin when a petri dish was mistakenly left open when scientist Alexander Fleming went on holiday and came back to find a mold killing harmful bacteria.
Serendipity is defined in Collins Dictionary as “a seeming gift for finding something good accidentally.” Synchronicity is defined in Collins Dictionary “an apparently meaningful coincidence.” In my mind, when synchronicity leads to something good, it is also serendipity. Plus, I simply like the word! It has a flow and I guess for me brings up images of fun with two rug rats!
Serendipity can be said to be luck. And then we have a limiting belief that “I’m not lucky. That never happens to me,” we miss every chance the universe puts before us for serendipity. So we continue to think we’re just not lucky.
But Serendipity only occurs if we are open to it. If we allow ourselves to notice and see it. This only happens when we are present and completely aware. When we go through life, doing things without paying attention, doing them out of habit, not noticing changes around us and inside us, serendipity blows away in the wind.
So how do we remain open to Serendipity? Let’s look at self-regulation. I know you’re thinking, “chance and self-regulation, how could there be any link between the two?”
If you came to Mind Work this past Monday, you know I don’t like the term self-regulation. It seems too close to a rule and if you’ve been to a Well-Being 101, you know we believe there are no rules. (No “shoulds” either.) So I choose to look at self-regulation as maintaining focus. Having clarity to make the decisions that will bring our desired outcomes. We make a decision and then we make more decisions to keep us on course. That seems more in tune with me than regulating my Self.
But still, how does maintaining focus relate back to Serendipity?
Well, if we don’t know what it is we are working toward, or when we lack clarity on our purpose or desires, how do we even notice when something is right in front of us? When we are clear on what we want, what our purpose is, it leaves much greater awareness to notice things that align with that vision. Serendipity is not just pure luck or random coincidence. It is a mindset. It is being actively aware and seeing the connection of seemingly random things.
Being fully aware of the present moment with clarity of who we are and why we are here is vital to find serendipity. But we must also prepare by removing barriers such as overwhelm or “imposter syndrome” and other negative beliefs. These negative emotions never allow us to see clearly, to take powerful action. For instance, let’s say you grab a coffee on our way to work where you have two back to back meetings and a list of other things that need to get done. You’re fully present though and notice the gentleman in front of you and recognize him as the hiring manager for a job you recently applied for. However, the stress and overwhelm you are feeling from all the work you have on your plate today is leaving you with no energy to start a conversation and introduce yourself. You are aware. You are clear, but you haven’t removed the barriers and thus miss out on this Serendipitous moment!
To truly engage in serendipity, we must be in a powerful state. When we are in overwhelm or other negative states, we are in survival mode. And in survival mode we aren’t open to all that is around us.
We all love Serendipity and feeling like the world just gave us a gift! That we are one of the lucky ones! But if we want more of that, we must be open to it. To believe that the Universe is always working for us. We need to be present and open to the gifts the universe is trying to give us! When we do that, Serendipity is all around us!