A chance encounter can do many things in our life…sometimes change the course of life completely for some of us. I am sure a lot of married folks will say, “I agree” to this one 🙂 🙂 🙂
Marriage is not the only thing I am referring to here. My friend recently went through a tough time: a personal crisis. She was scouring for signs of something positive, anything that would offer a ray of hope or light for her situation. She decided to go out for some tea when she encountered a woman, unknown to her, who began chatting about the trials and tribulations of her life.
The woman spoke of gratitude for those who had courage, and at the end of what was essentially a monologue the woman said to my friend: “Everybody goes through difficulties. Surround yourself with positive people and hang in there.” With that the woman got up and left. My friend had not shared a word of her difficulties, yet this chance encounter satisfied her need to receive something positive.
Perhaps. But the intriguing feature of this story is that the chance encounter provided the necessary spark of encouragement and hope.
In 1957, writer and cartoonist Allen Saunders offered the quote: “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” John Lennon later popularized the above sentiment in his song Beautiful Boy. We can all relate. We spend so much time working toward something, only to have the unexpected snare our attention and take us in a completely different direction. Of course this could be for better or worse. But is there a science underneath the positivity of chance encounters? We can test it out.
Who we become is greatly influenced by what happens beyond our control. And yet, as your own life has likely revealed, there is evidence that chance encounters can, and do, positively influence our lives. Perhaps it is time to build this into the formula for expecting, and experiencing more joy and more hope in our lives.
There is enough evidence around us to show that if you prepare yourself to make the most of chance encounters, good things are waiting to happen all around you. Other experts agree that with a few simple steps, you can significantly increase the chances of meeting your soul mate, finding the right business partner, or steering your life in a new direction. That might sound unlikely or even naive, but there’s real science to prove that while you can’t control the randomness of life, you can definitely create your own luck.
In psychological terms, lucky people tend to be more extroverted, a word whose Latin roots mean “turned outward.” Typically, they’re gregarious. They have the power to draw others toward them. They’re adept at maintaining friendships. And they cultivate what is described as a “strong network of luck” that helps promote opportunity in their lives.
Ultimately, the bigger your circle of acquaintances, the more opportunities you have. A typical person knows about 300 people on a first-name basis. So if you go to a party and meet someone new, he explains, you’re “only two handshakes away from 300 times 300 people; that’s 90,000 new possibilities for a new opportunity, just by saying hello.” By the same logic, if you meet 50 new people at a conference, you’re just a couple of introductions away from 4.5 million opportunities to change your life.
But handshakes aren’t the only way to increase the odds of a life-changing encounter. Statistics claim that 80 percent of the people who try to increase their serendipity are successful. It takes only a month, and most people report their luck increases by an average of 40 percent. A few keys to success:
Prepare your mind. Don’t leave chance encounters entirely to chance, says Colleen Seifert. Instead, try doing a little predictive encoding and get your mind ready for good things to happen. “Chance favors the prepared mind,” Seifert says, quoting Louis Pasteur. If you lay the groundwork, then when something happens by chance, your memory goes right to work and “you notice it for free.”
Give chance a chance. If you always pick apples in the same part of an orchard, Wiseman notes, you’ll eventually run out of fruit. The same applies to luck. Pursue an active life—get out there and do things—and you’ll increase the likelihood of good things happening. Go apple picking—or grocery shopping, for that matter—somewhere new. Eat your lunch on a different park bench. You never know who will be sitting next to you.
Relax. If you’re anxious, stressed, or preoccupied, Richard Wiseman believes, you probably won’t notice good things waiting to happen. You’ll walk right past money on the ground or miss an opportunity to speak with someone in a coffee shop. A laid-back attitude can lead to all sorts of possibilities, but you have to be ready to go with the flow.
Build your network of luck. Stay connected to the people you know, and try to meet new people. You can become more of a social magnet by paying attention to your body language. It may sound obvious, but make smiling a habit. “Remember that you are surrounded by opportunities,” Wiseman writes. “It is just a case of looking in the right places and seeing what is really there.”
The challenge is for us to cultivate as much optimism as we can muster, and to do this in anticipation of the unforeseen. This is important because as Heraclitus said, “If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it…”
So…go out there…and have a positively unexpected day!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂