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Do Coincidences Exist?

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“A coincidence is a surprising concurrence of events, perceived as meaningfully related, with no apparent causal connection.”

Whether you are someone who claims “There are no coincidences”, or someone who doesn’t give it much thought, people talk about them all the time.

Statistics Versus GUS:

Synchronicity proposed the idea that “coincidences” are not actually due to chance”

You may be a statistically-oriented individual who believes in the Law of Truly Large Numbers. This concept is one way to explain coincidences and states that in large populations, any strange event is likely to happen. Meaning we really should not be surprised at the randomness of these occurrences.

Or, you may be a GUS (God, Universe, Spirit) type. Carl Jung in his 1952 book, Synchronicity proposed the idea that “coincidences” are not actually due to chance. Instead, he believed that these occurrences are directly related to the observer’s mind. They present the individual with powerful insight, direction, and guidance. Not to scare the big time “noticers” of coincidences, but Jung also made the connection between experiencing an overabundance of meaningful coincidences and the earliest stages of schizophrenic delusion. I’m not frightened at all.

Interestingly, some research has shown that coincidences happen more to certain types of people. We humans can be pretty generous in the coincidence labeling department. Oftentimes, even finding a matching birthday with another can feel coincidental. The research from Beitman, the first psychiatrist since Jung to attempt to systematize the study of coincidences, found certain personality traits linked to experiencing more coincidences. Those of us who are self-described as spiritual or religious, or are high in meaning-seeking, and those of us who relate information from the external world back to ourselves are more likely to perceive coincidences.

Well, Do Coincidences Exist?

my coincidence radar has been pegged to overdrive for the last few weeks”

I think we can all agree that coincidences are remarkable in how they straddle these worlds. People have unanticipated, connective occurrences. They either construct meaning out of them, or they don’t. 

I happen to be one of the former types. A big Universe, collective unconscious fan, I do notice those surprising connective happenings. And yes, I stated I wasn’t scared of Jung’s findings linking “too many” coincidences with mental illness. That said, my coincidence radar has been pegged to overdrive for the last few weeks. Spending an inordinate amount of time alone over the last couple of weeks, I traveled solo for over 10 days, allowed me to set up camp in my mind.  

Too Much Time On My Hands:

What are the odds?”

Given that much alone time I had a field day with all the “happenings” around me. Incidences as insignificant as getting lost and stumbling upon the best meal ever, to being offered an extended stay in Lisbon which serendipitously led to meeting someone who provided some much needed information and help on a project I am working on.  I was even tripped up when, in a conversation with a friend, I discovered we both had chosen the exact same ice cream on the same day in separate cities in Portugal. See what I mean? Coincidence field day for sure.

“What are the odds?” is pretty much the catchphrase of coincidence. And while the rarity of the occurrence can be compelling, the grander notion of coincidence carries with it much more. These varied experiences, we link together in such a way can encourage us to “listen” or “accept” or “take action”

Clearly, I am a believer of “things happen for a reason.” I am curious how others perceive the notion of coincidence. Is it the Law of Truly Large Numbers, or are we in a world replete with signs that we just need to learn to read?

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