The word “coincidence” comes from a Medieval Latin word, meaning “to fall upon together.” Its modern definition may vary slightly, depending on who you ask. It simply means “the state of cooccurring in time, space, or nature” but may refer to “a seemingly significant, random concurrence.”
When things happen coincidentally, meaning two or more events happening at once, the feeling that it exists somewhere between perfectly planned and impossible gives it its mystical significance.
Dr. Bernard Beitman
Professor of Psychiatry, believes the perceived significance of coincidences comes from the persistent human need to understand the universe. We learn about our world using information from our surroundings and knowledge in our minds. When these sources align in a way we believe is unlikely, the random connectedness of these events may portray a sense of significance.
Some people dismiss such an event as a mere coincidence, a pointless occurrence we assign meaning to. Dr. Beitman created the transdisciplinary field of Coincidence Studies to gain a more thorough understanding of coincidences and their potential benefits.
Some co-occurrences are more coincidental than others and are based on two sets of variables.
The first and most important set of variables relates to the timing and similarity of the events. When events happen around the same time, they seem to connect more and may appear to have a cause-and-effect relationship. Similar occurrences within the same timeframe appear to have a strong connection.
The second set of variables relates to how surprising the coincidence is and who it’s significant for. A surprising or odd coincidence, which is highly unlikely to occur, could convey the event as more personally significant. A coincidence is usually more surprising to the person it directly pertains to. Other people’s coincidences are less likely to seem intrinsically connected.
3 Forms of Coincidence
Coincidence Studies have revealed three forms of coincidence: serendipity, synchronicity, and seriality.
The 18th-century British Prime Minister, Horace Walpole, first used the term serendipity to define the skill of finding what he needed when he needed it. Thoughtful observation, combined with luck, allowed him to do this. Today, the term describes any combination of chance and intention to positively affect your life.
Dr. Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, coined synchronicity, meaning “together in time.” He used it to describe a collection of paranormal phenomena, including clairvoyance, precognition, apparitions, poltergeists, telepathy, divination, and astrology. Jung used the term to describe meaningful coincidences, which he felt were important while on the journey toward self-realization.
Seriality describes a series of similar events that get recorded in mind but doesn’t carry any meaning. You may notice the same name come up over your day. They have unlikely commonalities but are otherwise unrelated and mean nothing personal. This coincidence is associated only with repetition and can be fascinating and surprising.
Coincidence and Personality
Certain aspects of a person’s personality may affect how often their experiences coincide. If you’re observant and pay close attention to what’s happening around you, you’ll probably experience more coincidences.
Similarly, if you try to find common ground with others, practice relating external events to yourself, or notice patterns quickly, it’s likely that coincidences are more recurrent in your life than someone who pays less attention to the events, people, and relationships around them. Whether coincidences happen to you more often than others is unknown, but how you perceive these connections may be what fuels your experience.
Practicing mindfulness can help you realize more frequent instances of coincidence. Maintaining positivity, enthusiasm, and openness can help you make more associations throughout your everyday life and use controlled coincidences to improve your life.
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