Serendipity means a “fortunate happenstance” or “pleasant surprise” (source). Or, as Glauco Ortolano puts it: Serendipity is the faculty of finding things we didn’t know we were looking for. Pek van Andel call it ‘the art of making an unsought finding’.

Life is full of chance encounters, unforeseen surprises and serendipitous information. We often just don’t recognize them as such.
But life likes to drop little miracles in our lap.

  • Someone recommends you apply for that job that you just did not see fit for you. It ends up teaching you so much and allowing you to grow..
  • You think of someone while shopping at Ikea and come home to find an email from that person in your inbox.
  • You get an offer from some works on your new house that really need to be done but for which you do not have the money and the next day your parents call and propose to pay it for you.
  • You’ve always had a thing for the numbers 9, 6 and 3 and then end up buying a house which has number 39 (I am still waiting for number six to show up! 😉
  • You thought of picking up a friend at a far away airport early one morning and it just so happens that another friend living in that city is there the night before and offers you to stay overnight.
  • You are discussing Portland, Oregon with a friend and how you’d love to go there one there and the next day you get an email with a contest to win a trip to Portland.

Sometimes it works the other way around and what initially looked like a bad thing, turns out to be a good thing:

  • You go to a restaurant that turns out to have bad food and loud music but in the end you meet someone you were supposed to meet.
  • On a plane you are asked to exchange your preferred seat for an unaccompanied minor only to find yourself next to someone really interesting.
  • The road you usually take to work is blocked, but the deviation lets you discover a new shop you didn’t know was there.
Some people might call this luck or fate or even ‘the hand of God’. I like to call these happenstances grace.
The world is marvelously mysterious and Grace is a wonderful, universal phenomenon which shows up to remind us of this again and again. Some people are luckier than others you say? I tend to disagree. They pass by the same penny on the street but don’t see it. The lucky people see it because they expect to find a lucky penny. Psychologist and professor Richard Wiseman, whose research identifies how lucky people create good fortune in their lives, states:

Lucky people generate their own good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.

Here are a few tips to make serendipity work for you:

  • Be curious:
     seek out new things and learn more about things you know little of.
    – ask Why a lot.
  • Expect it:
    – if you think you are unlucky, you are – if you think you are lucky and expect pleasant surprises, they will happen to you.
  • Notice it:
    – awareness is key – when you expect luck, you will notice that penny on the floor, you will combine the happenstance to something in your life where it makes sense
  • Associate:
    – Try to make connections to other parts in your life (how could this person be useful to me? Could this professional thing mean something in my private life?)
  • Introduce variety:
    – drive another way to work
    – go to a museum
    – attend a conference on a subject you know nothing of
    Sign up for a creative online class
  • Increase the amount of chance encounters
    – at the next event, talk to all the people that are wearing red
    – sit with different people at lunch every week
    – go alone to a bar you have never been
  • Always follow a hunch:
    – a hunch is that gut feeling that says ‘yes’
    – a hunch are the hairs on your neck that stand up when something is eerily coincidental
    – make it a rule to follow them, no matter what!
  • Share:
    – talk about your plans and ideas: at some point someone will say ‘hey, I know a guy…’
    – sending your ‘need’ into the Universe, will reverberate and you’d be surprised at what echo comes back
  • Take action and initiative:
    – don’t wait for things to happen, search them out, launch things, ship it
  • Be optimistic:
    – something good always comes out of something bad – just trust the process
  • Deal with bad luck:
    – Simply think that it could always have been much worse!

And last but not least:
What you do not notice you cannot receive.
Have faith in coincidences.
Be open to receive.

Much of the good and bad fortune we encounter is a result of our thoughts and behavior. And you are the only one who controls that.

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