Coincidences come, and coincidences go. What circumstances foster their appearance?
An acquaintance of mine finds herself in the flow and then out of the flow. In the flow, she experiences numerous coincidences. And then they stop. She does not know what triggers the ins or outs. The explanation probably includes her personality traits.
In a previous post, I reported that a series of personality variables has something to do with finding coincidences. Particularly, people who have a strong “ease of idea association”— that is, people who more easily match patterns in the environment around them with patterns in their minds — are more likely to see coincidences. It seems this acquaintance of mine has an ease of idea association at certain times, but not at others. This is because it has to do not only with personality, but also with circumstances. Some circumstances facilitate the ease of association.
Tearing the web of ordinary reality
Tearing the web of ordinary reality increases coincidences. When our daily routines are interrupted, this web is torn, permitting more coincidences into our awareness. Routines are interrupted by both good and bad events including: births, deaths, weddings, romantic love, graduation, job changes, sickness, divorce, crisis, and traveling.
These events increase randomness since they take us outside the predictable constraints of daily routines. Sometimes chaos ensues and crisis emerges. In crisis there can be opportunity. At the very least difficult circumstances increase our tendency to connect the subjective with the objective in an effort to find a way out. Romantic love often drives people to look for connections between the lovers, similarities that one or both hope indicate close ties between them.
Artists, painters, writers, and composers sometimes dissociate themselves from the web of ordinary reality to find their creative inspiration. They become absorbed in the process of discovery leaving behind the everyday. A painter might find new ideas through previously undiscovered connections between form and color. A writer might hear a comment in the coffee shop that fits just what she needs to complete the current theme.
Some environments are richer in coincidences than others.
Simply coming into contact with people who talk about and live coincidences can spread the sensitivity to others.
Some religious groups consider coincidences as messages from the Divine. Some call coincidences “Godwinks.” Sharing these stories with others helps bolster their belief in the beneficence of their deity. The social support also permits individuals in the group to notice helpful coincidences and to offer testimonials involving them.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, signs on telephone poles and bulletin boards proclaimed “Synchronicity Spoken Here.” The flexibility of the social rules at that place and time created a tear in regular reality, permitting more coincidences to emerge.
Directors of plays and musicals report that when someone is needed for a part, a person often shows up who fits. The wild adventure of trying to create high organization from the relative simplicity of a script fosters these helpful coincidences.
Having a need and the internet responds
We have become accustomed to the quick responses internet searches give us to our questions. My research shows that when people have a need and surf the internet, the answers surprisingly appear WITHOUT DIRECTLY ASKING. It is one of the 4 most common coincidences.
The internet provides the opportunity for a high-volume intersecting ideas. Meaningful coincidences are more likely to emerge in situations like this because coincidences are created by unexpected intersections of ideas.
Other high-volume intersecting spaces
Another space for a high volume of intersecting ideas can be created by putting together groups of people from different backgrounds and challenging them with needs.
Nathan Myhrvold did just that. He gathered together the brightest inventors he could find and asked them to find answers to puzzling questions of the time. Their intense interaction yielded new techniques for making microchips and improving jet engines; they proposed a way to custom-tailor the mesh “sleeve” that neurosurgeons can use to repair aneurysms. The group has licensed off a cluster of its patents, for eighty million dollars.
Sometimes all that is needed in a group is for someone to start talking about coincidences, and then stories flow. Get a group together as in a class on coincidences, and more coincidences will appear. Form your own coincidence-sharing group by talking about yours with friends. Let me know what happens!
Altered states of consciousness
For most of human existence, we have found ways to alter our consciousness. Why? To diminish our standard views and responses to our environment to permit new perspectives and experiences. Meditation, fasting, group drumming and dancing and mind-altering drugs each has a long history of use across many cultures and places. These self-induced experiences increase the ease of association. They create new biochemical contexts for ideas in the mind to find connections with other ideas in the mind and in its environment.