Serendipity: the art of cultivating good luck
Definition of serendipity
Encountering happy chance is the principle of serendipity. Serendipity is the faculty of discovering by chance, but thanks to a good frame of mind, things that one was not looking for. Today, the term, which is gaining momentum through personal development, has broadened. Serendipity is therefore the gift of making discoveries, the chance to find by chance what one is not looking for or the art of finding without looking. Everything is in the chosen shade.
It is an intuition that prompts one to observe the unknown, the unexpected and to accept error and confusion as a source of learning.
What does serendipity really mean? It can bring together ideas of synchronicity , chance , luck , coincidence . Sometimes a providential encounter if we bring it back to the relational domain and even an error in the context of a grandiose , scientific or historical discovery . Which, moreover, is at the very origin of the concept of serendipity.
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The story of serendipity
A Persian tale for origin
The principle of serendipity is inspired by the story of the Three Princes of Serendip , (former name of Ceylon) tale Persian poet Amir Khursrau, dating from the 13 th century.
Having left far to discover the world at the request of their father, the adventures of the three princes will be strewn with pitfalls and providential and happy encounters, which only their senses of observation will have allowed to understand and appreciate. In this way they will find or meet what they need to get them out of a lot of difficult situations.
This story has inspired many adaptations, including the famous Venetian tale of the 16 th century, entitled Peregrinaggio di giovanni be figliuoli del Re di Serendippo. (Voyage and Adventures of the Three Princes of Sérendip).
It would also have inspired Voltaire’s Zadig . It was the English novelist and philosopher Horace Walpole who in 1754 coined the word “ serendipity ”. By analogy with Sérendip, to define the talent of these three princes and describe a situation where one finds by chance, but with perspicacity, what one does not seek. The word will be slow to spread, however. And it was only around the 1930s that Walter Cannon, physiologist and professor at Harvard, proposed this word in the world of science to explain his own discoveries.
We can also analyze serendipity as the optimistic and pragmatic version of synchronicity of Carl Gustav Jung .
Serendipity at the service of great scientific and historical discoveries
In any case, this concept is easily verified since many scientific discoveries have been made “by chance”. Mention may thus be made of penicillin, the microwave oven or even Velcro.
But serendipity is not limited to the scientific field. The discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus in 1492 is the most obvious historical example! Having left to discover the Indies, an error brought the navigator to the American continent. The cartography of the world was changed and its global perception totally upset.
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Serendipity and personal development
The principle of resilience
This ability to value what happens to us by chance in existence is not only a formidable engine of life, but an incredible source of resilience. Resilience is the ability of a person to build a fulfilling and happy life despite shock, hardship, trauma. It is its ability to adapt, to transform this ordeal into a challenge and to overcome it, to draw strength from it to move forward.
So serendipity and resilience are closely linked. The first allows you to see the opportunities in what may seem invisible or irrelevant at first, to broaden your purpose. And resilience reinforces this state of mind by considering every setback or obstacle as a chance to surpass oneself and achieve oneself in an even more rewarding way.
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The paradox of serendipity
Cultivating happy luck does not mean living in constant and passive optimism. Getting the positive out of a situation of failure can only happen if we work towards it by being active. Serendipity requires being an actor in your life.
And beware of the paradox of serendipity. On the one hand, we must not indulge in synchronicity, at the risk of seeing a message where there is none, to satisfy our intrinsic need to feel special, apart. But at the same time, to enjoy the benefits of serendipity, we must have a posture of openness to the vagaries of chance and act fully to decipher and understand what can happen to us.
Pay attention to signs, therefore, without seeing messages everywhere, all the time. Hence the importance of following your intuition, but not to see it as a permanent treasure hunt.
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The keys to serendipity
Have a life project
Having a particular goal or desire and nurturing it are necessary in order to allow to come into contact “by chance” with people or information related to this project, while maintaining a state of mind open to the unforeseen.
Be open to novelty
Open-mindedness is one of the main resources for cultivating serendipity. To do this, you have to overcome your limiting beliefs as much as possible. Do not hesitate to take a step back, think differently, from another angle to broaden the field of possibilities.
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Trust your intuition
We tend to restrict our intuition in favor of reason, which causes us to miss out on essential information or messages. Indeed, at the crossroads of reason and intuition is discernment, which is, according to the dictionary, this “disposition of the mind to judge things clearly and healthily”. You have to dare to follow your inner impulses, even if you are unable to explain them rationally at the time. Sagacity (a mixture of intuition, finesse and alertness) is the way to go.
In the face of difficulties or trials, telling ourselves that everything works for our good despite appearances is a great source of benefits. You have to have a positive view of the world and believe in your luck. This well-known ability to see the glass half empty or half full. Cultivating resilience and staying positive is essential.
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Trust in serendipity
Letting go and accepting what comes along allows you to be in the present moment and fully aware of your actions. Managing to get out of the box and let ourselves be dragged out of our comfort zone, precisely where we no longer have control over anything. It requires observation, capacity for astonishment, but also letting go and courage. Instead of resisting, forcing, or blocking, it will often be more productive to let go and eventually a happy outcome may present itself.
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Serendipity and love
Serendipity, we all experience it one day or another in our love life, more or less blatantly. The unexpected love at first sight, the magic of an unexpected meeting… Love stories are indeed often linked to this concept. It is often said that love falls on us, that we meet it by chance. But at the same time you have to be ready or willing to fall in love. In short, serendipity is essential for humans, for them to evolve, to advance towards a new path.
Today’s societies move us away from it by wanting everything to be perfectly planned and organized. Our lives are regulated to the nearest millimeter. Everything goes fast, too fast and leaves little room for contemplation and understanding.
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How to cultivate serendipity today?
Thus, there is less and less room for chance which remains a cornerstone of serendipity. So it’s up to you to take the time, humanly speaking, to find out what’s really important, to stop in your way from time to time. Your life, both personal and professional, could turn out to be transformed.
In the Little Prince , Saint-Exupéry reminds us “that we can only see well with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye. “
Remember to cultivate your intuition, to trust yourself. Not to let go of opportunities, synchronicities, chances that are anything but coincidences to be swept away with the back of the hand. Nothing happens by chance in life, everything has a meaning, as long as you want to see well beyond just in front of you.
So yes, to seize opportunities, you do indeed need a good dose of chance. But you have to add both conscious and unconscious knowledge to it. And be open-minded, in a state of alertness, observe, follow your intuitions and listen to your emotions. This is where the unimaginable, serendipity occurs.
By functioning in this way, some succeed in having a serendipian life , that is to say, they cultivate letting go on a daily basis and take advantage of the present moment. It’s not luck, it’s just that they dared. Dare to open the door at random and use it wisely, ready to step out of their comfort zone and embark on any new life project, trusting their intuition. Nothing is fixed or written in advance in life. Cultivating positivity and serendipity allows us to realize that even our mistakes are not really mistakes. They simply lead us elsewhere, on a new path, to an unsuspected destination.