Have you ever experienced the 'perfect moment' when things seem to come together? For instance you may be thinking about someone and suddenly the phone rings with them on the line?
There are many such occurrences in life that are truly coincidental, but we also assign a meaning to that occurrence.
It is this meaning of that coincidence that can be utilised when we try to figure out our life purpose.
The famous psychologist Carl Jung (1875-1961) coined a word for this, called 'synchronicity'. He defined it as 'temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events', or in other words 'a meaningful coincidence in time, a psychic factor which is independent of space and time.'
The above suggests that there is something mystical about these coincidences. However another theory by statisticians Persi Diaconis and Frederick Mosteller - The Law of Truly Large Numbers - says that 'with a large enough number of samples, any outrageous thing is likely to be observed'.
Given the contradictory nature of the above definitions, it pays us to discuss these a but further.
When 2 or more things happen at the same time, this is truly simultaneous or synchronous. Statisticians will say nothing more and nothing less. The universe is full of events, some concurrent and some not.
Jung, on the other hand, points to us assigning a meaning to that coincidence, no matter how far fetched or inaccurate it might be. And many other authors and playwrights have incorporated the idea of 'destiny' into their works, as if our lives have been given a purpose from the outset.
However, when it comes to 'Life Purpose', you can interpret any occurrence or sequence of events in whatever way you like, and assign whatever meaning you like to it.
The only thing that matters is the meaning which is important to you. There is meaning embedded in everything we experience: names, colours, dreams, etc. However these meanings are what you assign to them, not something that is ordained by an external or higher power.
I remember a few years ago buying a new car, a silver coloured Astra sedan. And wouldn't you know, for the next few months or so I kept seeing silver Astras everywhere I went!
Did a lot of Astras suddenly get created?
Of course not. It was my focus on silver Astras that brought it to my notice every time one came into view. The part of the brain that does this is called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). Although there is a huge amount of information in the environment, we typically are only aware of about 4% of it. That 4% is what the RAS serves up to us.
This applies to coincidences. If you keep seeing images of, say a priest, does that mean your life purpose is the priesthood? Not necessarily, but something in your mind is flagging you to this.
It may be this is your path, or it may not. The point is, you have attached some significance or meaning to the image.
In this, you could follow the signs your subconscious is giving you and see if they resonate. I use the word resonate to indicate that the experience aligns with your values, and that a 'void' has been filled. You may also experience other sensations such a warm and calm feeling and a sense of completion or closure.
What to do when you experience a synchronicity
There are a number of things you can do when you experience a synchronicity, but above all, be open to the experience.
- Become still and note how you are feeling.
- Relax your thoughts and let your mind wander. Trust your intuition.
- Ask yourself, “What questions have I been asking lately?”
- Does the experience seem connected to another area of your life?
- Do you feel energised?
- If you continue running into someone and continue making eye contact with them, follow through and start a conversation with them.
- When in conversation, follow your intuition if you are prompted to say something.
- Consider what you can offer the other person (the synchronistic meaning may be more for them than you).
- After the event has passed, reflect on its potential meaning without over-analysing. Often the subtle meaning is picked up only at the unconscious level.
Now given the above, not all coincidences will have profound meanings for your life purpose. For instance, you are walking down a road. The coincidence is that you and the road happen to exist at the same time and the same place... but is this really profound? The only meaning you could ascribe is that you chose to take this road to get to your destination.
On the other hand, the more you focus on the meaning of life and your purpose in life, the more likely you are to discover it. Simply reading this article and the others in the series is a step in the right direction.
Reflection Exercise - Life Purpose Coincidences
Here is a further exercise you can do to examine the role of coincidences in your life.
Answer the questions below as best you can:
- Just at the very time that I needed _______________ then _______________ happened.
- If I hadn’t done __________________, then _______________ would never have happened.
- Even though __________________ was difficult, I see now how it was exactly what I needed.
- I can see how ________________ happening to me prepared me for __________________.
- If it wasn’t for __________________, I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today.
- I was so sure I wanted __________________, but when I didn’t get it, I realised how it lead me to something even better.
- If __________________ hadn’t gone wrong, I never would have met _________________ and __________________ never would have happened.
You can see from the above that there will always be consequences from decisions or actions we take. If your parents didn't have you, you could not have been born... etc.
Consider the following things about your life up until now.
HOME: Were there any particular coincidences or signs connected with getting your current living space? (house numbers, encounters with neighbours, delays, mix-ups, street names, etc.)
JOB: How did you get your present job? (How did you find out about it? Who did you talk to? What messages did you you receive?, etc.)
RELATIONSHIP: How did you meet your most important relationship? What led up to your being in that place at that time?
Are there any obvious synchronicities?
What does it all seem to be pointing you toward? Can you see the direction it may be heading?
Is there anything that people regularly “tell you” you’d be good at?
Is there anything you’ve said along the lines of, “I would love to do _____” but never followed the desire?
If you answered the questions above, you will have by now gained some insight into the role of coincidences on determining your life story, and indeed your life purpose.
Remember, as 'Doc' says in the movie 'Back To The Future' - 'Your future is what you make of it'. Pay attention to what happened in the past, and what is happening right now.
Your life purpose - and thus your future - will be unveiled.
Coming Next: Beliefs
Previous Article In This Series: Personality