Category Archives: Friday

The 5 Most Common Coincidences

Two statistical approaches with overlapping outcomes

To describe and classify is often the first step in developing a new science. Like the early botanists, I am developing a taxonomy for coincidences. Early botanists noticed similarities and differences among plants and categorized them; I’ve noticed the similarities and differences between the coincidental flora and fauna in the forest of daily life.

University of Cambridge Data

David Spiegelhalter at the University of Cambridge collected 4,470 coincidences; Julie Beck reported the results of an analysis of these stories in The Atlantic. A solid 58% of the coincidences “included words related to family or loved ones, indicating that people are more likely to notice coincidences involving people closest to them.”

Data Map Created by Quid, Spiegelhalter Coincidence Story Analysis

The five most common types of coincidences in this analysis were:

  1. Sharing a birthday with someone (11%)
  2. Connections involving books, TV, radio, or the news (10%)
  3. Vacation-related coincidences (6.1%)
  4. Meeting people in transit—while walking around, in airports, or on public transportation (6%)
  5. Coincidences related to marriage or in-laws (5.3%)

Spiegelhalter is a statistician who believes that coincidences are best understood as interesting examples of the laws of probability at work. For example, the probability of two people having the same birthday is 1/365, which means that if you tell 365 people when your birthday is, you are very likely to find at least one person who shares the same birthday.

Vacation-related coincidences tend to involve unexpectedly running into someone you know. Since you probably know a great many people and you are part of a specific socio-economic group that is likely to take vacations in the same places, the probability of running into someone you know is also fairly high.

The image above is a map by Quid, a data analytic company, made from the full Spiegelhalter study data set. Each dot represents one story, and the lines connect stories that have very strong linguistic similarities. So, the light blue birthday cluster is tightly snarled, because there are only so many variations on finding out you share the same birthday as someone else. But the red cluster of shared death dates has some connections to the birthday cluster, indicating that some coincidence stories involve both birth dates and death dates.

The researchers also looked at the tone of the stories and found that more people described their coincidences using negative language (32%) or neutral language (41%) than positive language (25%). This finding is unexpected because synchronicities are generally considered to be positive experiences.

Weird Coincidence Survey (WCS)

My research approached the question in a different way. While Spiegelhalter asked participants to report their stories, I asked participants to rate the frequency of common coincidences. The list of common coincidences was gleaned from a much longer group of possibilities. (The 12 items of the WCS can be found on my website. You can take the survey to see how sensitive to coincidences you are.)

From 1551 respondents to the website of the WCS, the most common coincidences were:

  • I think of a question only to have it answered by an external source (i.e. radio, TV, or other people) before I can ask it.
  • I think of an idea and hear or see it on the radio, TV, or Internet.
  • I think of calling someone, only to have that person unexpectedly call me.
  • I advance in my work/career/education by being in the right place at the right time.

In descending order of frequency, the rest of the items lined up like this:

  • I need something, and the need is then met without my having to do anything.
  • I am introduced to people who unexpectedly further my work/career.
  • I run into a friend in an out-of-the-way place.
  • When my phone rings, I know who is calling without checking the screen or using personalized ring tones.
  • Meaningful coincidence helps determine my educational path.
  • I think about someone and then that person unexpectedly drops by my house or office, or passes me in the hall or street.
  • I experience strong emotions or physical sensations that were simultaneously experienced at a distance by someone I love.
  • After experiencing meaningful coincidence, I analyze the meaning of my experience.

The specific frequencies for each item are listed in this bar graph:

Source: Beitman, Weird Coincidence Survey (2016)

In both my analysis and the analysis of stories submitted to Spiegelhalter, coincidences involving external media are relatively common. Though there are some similarities, it is interesting that some different categories grew out of the two different approaches.

I developed my categories through an extensive literature review and statistical winnowing. Quid analyzed the content of voluntarily submitted stories to develop its categories.

The Quid analysis includes categories of marriage- and hospital-related coincidences, which I did not include in my survey. I include categories Quid does not, such as coincidences related to careers and the reflection of one’s thoughts in the external environment.

As we develop the science of Coincidence Studies, ongoing data analyses like these will sharpen the categorization of the coincidences.

Co-authored by Tara MacIsaac, a reporter and editor for the Beyond Science section of Epoch Times. She explores the new frontiers of science, delving into ideas that could help uncover the mysteries of our world.

EP215, Pninit Russo-Netzer: Midwife to the Soul through Synchronicity

You Can Also LISTEN HERE to this Episode on AnchorFM

Meet a woman who uses synchronicity to help people find meaning in life! She encourages people to enter into the magic moments of existence, to connect to the dazzling web of life — inspiring awe, curiosity and  gratitude.   

In this episode, Pninit Russo-Netzer shares the inspiration for and progress of her research into synchronicity, including details on next steps for the field and practical advice based on her findings.   

Connecting with Coincidence YouTube channel. Please SUBSCRIBE to our channel to be notified when future episodes are posted! Also available, there are 138 archived episodes of the CCBB podcast  available, HERE.  

Our guest Pninit Russo-Netzer, Ph.D. is a senior lecturer and the head of the Education Department at Achva Academic College, and a researcher  at the University of Haifa, Israel. Her main research and practice interests focus on meaning in life, positive psychology, existential  psychology, spirituality, positive change and growth. Dr. Russo-Netzer is the head of the ‘Compass’ Institute for the Study and Application of  Meaning in Life, and the founding head of the Academic Training PrograM for Logotherapy (meaning-oriented psychotherapy) at Tel-Aviv University. She develops training and intervention programs and publishes scholarly  journal articles and books on these topics. Learn more at  

Our host Dr. Bernard Beitman is the first psychiatrist since Carl Jung to attempt to systematize the study of coincidences. He is Founding Director of The Coincidence Project. His book, and his Psychology Today blog, are both titled Connecting with Coincidence. He has developed the first valid and reliable scale to measure coincidence sensitivity, and  has written and edited coincidence articles for Psychiatric Annals. He is a visiting professor at the University of Virginia and former chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He attended Yale Medical School and completed a psychiatric residency at Stanford. Dr. Beitman has received two national awards for his psychotherapy training program and is internationally known for his  research into the relationship between chest pain and panic disorder. Learn more at

EP209, Sabrina Sauer: Improvise to Create Serendipity!

You Can Also Listen to this Episode on AnchorFM

By improvising with serendipity, Sabrina Sauer creates stimulating, rich environments and enthusiasm for flowing with the unexpected. 

Sabrina shares an example: “In my first year working as an assistant professor in Media Studies, I traveled to Milan for a conference. As I was relatively new to the field, I decided to watch a colleague’s presentation. Her session was chaired by a person who asked that colleague about a (in my mind) random topic that I also happened to be very interested in, just as I was thinking about that topic. I thought that that was a nice coincidence. Incidentally, I liked this person’s thought processes so much, that we are now married!”

Connecting with Coincidence with Bernard Beitman, MD (CCBB) is now offered as both an audio podcast–anywhere that podcasts are available–and in video format on the Connecting with Coincidence YouTube channel. Please SUBSCRIBE to our channel to be notified when future episodes are posted! Also available, there are 138 archived episodes of the CCBB podcast available, HERE

Our guest Sabrina Sauer is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, at the Research Centre for Media and Journalism Studies. She obtained an MA in Media Studies, a PhD in Science and Technology Studies, and professionally trained as an actor prior to writing her dissertation about user-technology improvisations as a source for Information and Communication Technology innovation, at the University of Twente (Netherlands). She has published about media production, the agency of users and technological artefacts, exploratory search, improvisation, and serendipity. Her current research focuses on the use of digital data in creative media production practices, social innovation, and digital humanities. Learn more at 

Our host Dr. Bernard Beitman is the first psychiatrist since Carl Jung to attempt to systematize the study of coincidences. He is Founding Director of The Coincidence Project. His book, and his Psychology Today blog, are both titled Connecting with Coincidence. He has developed the first valid and reliable scale to measure coincidence sensitivity, and has written and edited coincidence articles for Psychiatric Annals. He is a visiting professor at the University of Virginia and former chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He attended Yale Medical School and completed a psychiatric residency at Stanford. Dr. Beitman has received two national awards for his psychotherapy training program and is internationally known for his research into the relationship between chest pain and panic disorder. Learn more at

CCBB Episode 203, Julie Mariel : Psychedelic Synchronicities of a Danish Anthropologist

Synchronicities lead Danish anthropologist and past-life therapist Julie Mariel Jespersen to Ayahuasca, which then leads her to further synchronicities and shamanistic experiences with interpersonal human energy fields.   

Connecting with Coincidence with Bernard Beitman, MD (CCBB) is now offered as both an audio podcast–anywhere that podcasts are available–and in video format on the Connecting with Coincidence YouTube channel. Please SUBSCRIBE to our channel to be notified when future episodes are posted! Also, 138 archived episodes of the CCBB podcast are available, HERE

In this episode, Julie Mariel Jespersen describes the coincidence-increasing effects of the mind-expanding South American potion, Ayahuasca (also known as Daime). Her synchronicity-inspired training experiences have now forged her into a modern day shaman who is able to clearly report  journeys into the 4th dimension, or what she calls “betwixt and between.” 

Our guest Julie Mariel Jespersen earned a master’s degree in anthropology at Aarhus University (Denmark). Her thesis, “The Reality of Illusion and the Illusion of Reality: An anthropological study of Ayahuasca ceremonies in a Dutch spiritual group,” was completed in 2016. She is a certified hypnotherapist, SoulKey-Therapist (2014) and -Instructor (2019). She has been trained in modern shamanism and healing by Danish modern shamans (2016-2020). She has worked independently as a therapist performing hypnotherapy, SoulKey therapy and healing and giving talks and courses on Ayahuasca, spirituality and personal development from an anthropological as well as a modern shamanic perspective. She runs the project ‘Portal Journeys’ with her colleague and sister, Rie Jespersen, bringing groups to spiritual places like the Bosnian Pyramids (about which Rie has written the book “De Bosniske Pyramider”). Julie is currently writing a book in Danish about Ayahuasca/Daime based on her fieldwork. She is featured in the spirituality section of Danish documentary “from the inside,” with journalist Anders Agger, set to  screen on Danish National Television, fall 2021. Learn more at  

Research Suggests That Synchronicities Can Aid Psychotherapy

Therapist confidence about using synchronicity correlates with outcome.

Carl Jung described the paradigmatic synchronicity of the scarab-like beetle coming to his office window just as his patient was describing a dream of a scarab piece of jewelry during psychotherapy. Since then Jungians and others have recorded single cases. Recently investigators have carried out systematic research in the use of synchronicity during psychotherapy. Here’s hoping increasingly more researchers will study the ways in which synchronicity can become a useful psychotherapeutic technique as has Dr. Reefschläger in this report. (BDB)


permission of Gunnar Immo Reefschläger

Gunnar Immo ReefschlägerSource: permission of Gunnar Immo Reefschläger

My name is Gunnar Immo Reefschläger, and I am a researcher from Frankfurt, Germany. I focus on modern concept research in the field of Analytical Psychology. Moreover, I am a clinical psychologist, a psychodynamic-oriented personal coach, and currently, a psychotherapeutically and psychoanalytical candidate at the Institute of Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis in Andernach, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. Having finished and released my dissertation in German in 2018, Dr. Bernard Beitman kindly encouraged me to publish my findings for an English speaking readership.

In the following, I would like to give you a short and concise introduction to some of my general findings. After giving you an example of a typical participant’s report of synchronicity that happened in the context of psychotherapy, I will explain how I came across Carl Jung’s concept of synchronicity, and how I conducted my study. Feel free to contact me through the links below if you have any thoughts. 

A case of synchronicity in psychotherapy

First, I would like to give you a typical example of synchronicity that can happen in the context of psychotherapy. The following excerpt is from a case that can be found in my doctoral dissertation(1):

”A 16-year-old patient who is suffering from anxiety goes on a final school trip to Berlin. It is her first trip away from home; she feels fearful and excited at the same time. However, her feelings transform into being overwhelmed. She tries to contact me spontaneously by mobile phone. I almost never switch on my mobile phone, but exactly at this moment it is on and I can give comfort to my patient. As a consequence of this moment, our therapeutic relationship deepened as I saw her in our next session.”

We need more modern concept research: The way to my study

I became fascinated by stories like these when a friend gave me a copy of Hopcke’s book There Are No Accidents (2) where I read the term synchronicity for the first time. During my studies of psychology at school, I noticed to my surprise that there was very little research about the concept of synchronicity because it was labeled as “psychological non-sense“ by my behavioristic-focused psychology department. In general, Analytical Psychology and its Freudian cousin Psychoanalysis were discarded as non-scientific. However, I had the feeling that it was an important and crucial concept of psychotherapy that just needed to be investigated more since strange coincidences connect people in a way that can be useful for both patient and therapist and their relationship. Consequently, I looked for a psychology professor who would be interested in supporting my idea to give the concept of synchronicity an empirical foundation so it would be acknowledged as a valid therapeutic concept.article continues after advertisement

A first step to an empirical foundation of synchronicity: The study

For my study, I collected a number of cases where synchronistic moments happened in the context of psychotherapy. This first step took me a time period of nine months. My cases consisted of 1) personal interviews I had with therapists, 2) synchronistic moments that happened during therapy which were documented by articles, books, and literature, and 3) questionnaires that Jungian therapists could use as an alternative to personal interviews.

To get a high number of personal interviews, I reached out to all Jungian training institutes that were listed on the website of the International Association for Analytical Psychology (3) asking them if they would be willing to endorse my study and send a study invitation via e-mail to their members. Institutes in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland received a German version of my study invitation, all other institutes an English version. In addition to that, I sent out study invitation flyers to all Jungian institutes in Germany (Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich) via mail. Next, I also posted my study invitation online on several forums, groups on Facebook. For people who reacted to my invitation over Facebook, I asked them to give me some kind of proof that they had been working as a therapist. (e.g scan of their license to practice).

For therapists who responded to my study invitations, I sent an informed consent form that needed to be filled out by both therapist and patient allowing me to use the provided material. I conducted the actual interviews face-to-face, via telephone, or via Skype. For therapists who could or would not telephone, meet me personally, nor Skype, I offered to send my interview questions via email, so that they could answer them in a written form. In the end, I conducted 12 interviews personally and I received 12 email responses, in which therapists answered my interview questions in a written form.

Next, for conducting interviews, I searched for already documented synchronicities that happened during psychotherapy. I used different keywords and keyword combinations (e. g. “synchronicity”, “synchronicity and psychotherapy”, “synchronistic”) on Google and Google Scholar to find cases that were documented. Books, dissertations, and articles that seemed to be possibly relevant for my interest, I read in-depth (5; 6). The length of an actual narrative was not important, however, I dismissed narratives that were too short (e. g. when it only consisted of one sentence). In the end, I found 22 narratives of synchronicities that happened in the context of psychotherapy.


After nine months of collecting data, I had a total number of 46 cases/reports of synchronicities that happened in psychotherapy. Next, I looked at how these cases were presented and/or written. I analyzed the cases using several questions including: “Did the synchronicity include a dream, premonition, or a concrete statement/behavior?“ Or “Did the synchronicity happen over a physical distance or in a physical closeness?“ In this way, I had a total of 22 questions I asked the therapists I interviewed, or I answered them myself regarding the already documented cases. Most of my questions came from publications of my doctoral advisor Christian Roesler (7). Afterward, I tried to find out if there are any tendencies of all cases in response to my questions.

Here are some results I found: There were more synchronicities reported/documented 1) that included pre-monition than dreams 2) that happened in a physical distance, e. g. over several kilometers, rather than a physical closeness, e.g. over some meters 3) that happened not simultaneously, e.g. a person dreaming synchronistically of events occurring the next day, than simultaneously, e.g. a person knowing synchronistically what another person does at the same time. I also tried to look at several possible relations between my questions through statistical methods. My results show, for example, that there is a relation between a concrete, self-assured reaction of the therapist regarding an occurred synchronistic moment and a positive consequence for the therapeutic relationship. Moreover, the more secure, aware, and specific a therapist reacts to a synchronistic moment in the context of psychotherapy, the more likely it has a positive impact on the therapeutic relationship and the therapy process itself.

What needs to happen: More therapists need to know the concept of synchronicity

In conclusion, one can say that paying attention to synchronistic moments in therapies can be a beneficial factor for therapy if the therapist is trained and self-assured in the topic of synchronicity. Consequently, it would be advisable if the topic of synchronicity is being taught more in therapy training institutes, so that future therapists can recognize synchronicities better and see them as a potential source for additional therapeutic interventions, that can support the patient by experiencing even more meaning in his or her life.


1)Excerpt of case 23 of Reefschläger, G. (2018). Synchronizität in der Psychotherapie; Eine quantitativ-qualitative Untersuchung der strukturellen Beschaffenheit synchronistischer Phänomene im psychotherapeutischen Prozess. [Dissertation]. Frankfurt/Oder: Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt.

2) Hopcke, R. H. (1998). There are no accidents: Synchronicity and the stories of our lives. Riverhead Books (Hardcover).

3)International Association for Analytical Psychology – IAAP. (2020, November 21).

4) Hill, J. (2011). Synchronicity and grief: The phenomenology of meaningful coincidence as it arises during bereavement. [Dissertation]. Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.

5)Brandon, N. (2015). Synchronicity: A phenomenological study of Jungian analysts’ lived experience of meaningful coincidence in the context of psychotherapy. [Dissertation]. California Institute of Integral Studies.

6)Roesler, C. (Ed.). (2018). Research in analytical psychology: empirical research. Milton Park, Abingdon: Routledge 

How to Use Meaningful Coincidences

We know they happen. The data are very clear. Coincidences appear in the lives of most people, some more frequently than others. We can describe them in terms of mind and thing. We can list their archetypal themes. How can they be used? What is their cash value?

General Uses of Meaningful Coincidences

Encourage us to become curious about them

We come to the awareness of coincidences in a variety of ways. Some of us seem to be born with the predisposition to be curious about them. Sometimes a major coincidence dramatically draws our attention to them as happened to Brendan. Others become overwhelmed by a flood of coincidences, demanding personal investigation.

However one comes to acknowledge their existence, curiosity often follows.

Confirm cherished beliefs (The confirmation bias)

If you want to believe that God makes your coincidence happen, then a startling or useful coincidence can confirm that belief. If you want to believe that the universe is random, coincidences can also confirm that belief. If you believe, as I do, that each of us contributes to the creation of many coincidences, then that belief can also be confirmed.

Stimulate interest in how the world works

If what you are thinking is surprisingly matched by an event in your environment, how does that happen? Perhaps our minds minds more connected to the material world than science currently tells us. Are some coincidences windows into a hidden reality? Do we have more psychic powers than we believe we have? Or perhaps they are teaching us about the way statistics can inform our understanding of low probability experiences.

Activate and exercise our observing selves

Our observing self is that part of our awareness that monitors our mental activity. By coming to recognize that some of our mental events are surprisingly matched by environmental events, we activate our ability to observe our inner workings. We then exercise our ability to connect our mind’s events with the events in our surroundings. The more coincidences we experience, the more fluidly our observing selves finds parallels between our thoughts and our surroundings.

Encourage us to think about probabilities

A common response to a weird coincidence is: What are the odds of that happening? Try to answer that question by estimating the probability of each part of the coincidence. For more details about estimating probabilities, please see this previous post.

Great stories to tell!

Tell some friends a coincidence story. You may trigger a very interesting discussion. You are also likely to hear stories from them. Maybe you will help each other to figure them out.

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Guiding Principles for Using Coincidences

Be selective about which coincidences to examine

The frequency of coincidences varies. For some of us, coincidences rarely appear. For those who regularly experience them, whom I call coinciders, some periods can be full of them. Other periods have very few. When there are lots of them, enjoy the possibility of being in the flow. That may be enough of an examination. When you do examine them look at the low probability ones first, especially those that trigger intense feelings in you. Be careful about over-examining befuddling coincidences. If you become overwhelmed by their frequency, seek coincidence counseling.

It’s your choice about how to use them

Meaningful coincidences offer us possibilities, not certainty. They are best thought of as sign posts rather than directives. We are probably not being imposed upon by some external force although some of us do think of them this way.

Some offer a clear path forward that seems very reasonable to take. Others present confusing ambiguity. For the ambiguous ones, select the option which best suits your needs in both the short and long terms. Some are tempting but not the right thing for us.That means refusing to follow the implied suggestion.

Interpreting coincidences

The use of some coincidences may be obvious. Others may be not so clear. Take some time, let the meaning percolate through your mental-emotional system. Write them down. You may see a pattern emerge as can happen with dreams. As you become more tuned to coincidences, you will see that we also live in a symbolic world, a real life dream world. Events may become symbols as in novels and plays. Some of us learned this in childhood from a nursery rhyme:

“Row, row row your boat, gently down the stream.

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.”

An insightful interpretation of this rhyme can be found here.

Specific Uses of Certain Coincidences

Provide comfort and support

The most common use of coincidence, especially in times of distress, is to provide comfort and support. In this video Kathryn describes how connections with strangers and a Santa Fe jeweler helped to her feel that she was not alone and that everything would be alright. Pay attention to the feeling she had in response to the coincidence. Jung labelled it “numinous”. That feeling marks the coincidence to be significant.

Stimulate good feelings

Some coincidences are fun or enjoyable or aesthetically pleasing. Like fine entertainment and fine art, they help us feel good, that everything is right in the world. For example, a 24 year old woman, upon experiencing an amazing coincidence, told me, “It was like when your mom pulls the sheet over you, and it settles on you, and you feel you are in the right place.” p.221

Lock and key–providing just what we need

There it is, just what you are looking for or even something better. You recognize the fit between idea and object/person/event immediately or shortly thereafter. No ambiguity. A missing object mysteriously shows up, or a long lost relative suddenly appears or just the idea you needed for work or creativity saunters out in front of you. Your task is to grasp it or let it go.

Affirming love and connection

We seek connections with other. These bonds can be and are often supported by meaningful coincidences. In romantic love coincidences can be especially impactful which presents the lover with a two-sided coin. We have a tendency to believe that highly unlikely coincidences are encouraging us to believe that this relationship will last forever. The feeling they generate in us seems to strengthen the sense that eternity stretches out in front of us. Often this is not the case as described in this post.

In family relationships and friendship coincidences can strengthen bonds through the remarkable empathy that emerges through simulpathity. We feel the pain, distress and other feelings of a loved one at a distance. Rob Hopke describes many love synchronicities in his new book as has SQuire Rushnell.

Expanding awareness of personal powers

Simulpathity and human GPS suggest we have psychic abilities that are not recognized by modern science. Scientists have well-reasoned arguments against these potentials as summarized by statistician David Hand.

When we experience them ourselves, we may begin to question scientific orthodoxy. Each of us needs to be scientific in our approach to recognizing and using these abilities.

Being scientific requires becoming our own personal scientist as described by Gary Schwartz. Test your hypothesis in the real world: Gather evidence. Probe and observe the responses. Be careful about bias toward one conclusion over another. Compare your experiences with others. Read accessible research on the subject.

You will not have the opportunity to perform a controlled, blind experiment since coincidence experiences are difficult to systematically organize for study. At least at this time. You are functioning in the real world not in controlled environment of the laboratory.

Psychiatrists must take research done under controlled conditions and apply the results to the messy data set that many patients present. As an example of the problem of becoming your own scientist and yet the need to do so click here. You finally have to decide what is real based upon limited information.

Helping others through coincidences

Some coincidences directly involve other people. We are the intermediaries. It is as if we are players in someone else’s dream. See, for example, the tennis basket post.

Using synchronicity awareness as a spiritual path

Meaningful coincidences demonstrate that our minds and our environments are connected. They suggest that our minds are part of a Greater Mind.

Spiritual practices like meditation, ecstatic dancing, and fasting encourage us to go deeply into our mind and body to become consciously present in the Here-and-Now.

As a spiritual practice, synchronicity awareness takes a complementary position. On this path you look outward as well as inward.You discover that external events converging together in each moment are related to each other. By immersing yourself in awareness of the interconnections at this moment, you can enter Here-and-now.

Misuse of Coincidences

The dark side of meaningful coincidences tends to get less attention than the sunny side.Here are several ways they can be misused and hurtful.

Self aggrandizement

Repeated coincidences can foster an expanding sense of one’s own specialness. “The Universe is speaking directly to me so often! I must be quite wonderful to be the center of all this attention.” Correction: You are not the only person experiencing many coincidences.

Good for me, not good for you

Some coincidences have both positive and negative results, depending on your role in them. For example, a husband and wife are looking for a new house. They find one that he likes and she does not but someone else has put in a bid. The couple then finds out that the bid has been withdrawn. The husband jumps at the opportunity. They argue. This becomes the last straw in their long standing problematic relationship and their marriage ends.

In another example, robbers try to cash the forged personal check of a bank teller to whom they brought the check to cash. 125

Charlatans use probabilities against us

Tricky people can use coincidences to pull cash out of unsuspecting people. They use simple probabilities to catch their victims.

One group, presenting themselves as Microsoft, randomly calls people offering to help with their computer problems as described in this post. (Microsoft does not call people.)

Another offers to sell a “highly effective” investment advising newsletter:

Mr. Lucky receives a financial newsletter, no strings attached, at no cost. He glances at it. The financial advisor announces that there will be a dramatic rise in a specific stock index. And there is. The next newsletter trumpets his clever methods for making this prediction. It also predicts another rise in the index. And there is. Once again, the advisor reviews his metrics for this conclusion but this time forecasts a decline in the index. And down it goes. After several more of these accurate predictions, the newsletter editor asks Mr. Lucky to send $2,000 for future newsletters with a fuller range of trends and a greater potential for earning high returns.

Let’s look behind the scenes. By purchasing a list of investors with a net worth of over one million dollars, the financial advisor selected 128,000, half of whom received a newsletter predicting a rise in the index while the other half received a newsletter predicting a decline. To those 64,000 who got the correct prediction, he sent another set of newsletters, half predicting gains and half predicting losses. The 32,000 who received the correct prediction were then sent another set of newsletters, again, half predicting gains and half predicting losses. Mr. Lucky was one of the 16,000 for whom the financial advisor was “correct” three times in a row. He decided to wait for one more prediction. Unfortunately for him, he received a prediction that was again correct, so he joined many of the 8,000 investors who sent the advisor $2,000 for this variation on a scammer-created coincidences.

Over-weighting Coincidences in decision making

Coincidences can inform decision making but cannot be relied upon as the sole reason for a decision. Here is an example:

Sitting her car with her boyfriend, a 19 yo female was weighing the marriage proposal of her boyfriend. As she pondered, grandmother’s favorite song came on the radio. She decided that was the sign she needed and said yes.

She provided no more information than this. It seemed that her uncertainty may have had good reasons.

and another:

During the interview with the dean of the another medical school, the professor, who was applying for Chair of a department there, glanced at a pile of books on the dean’s bookshelf and spotted a thin book with a maroon cover and gold edges. The professor blurted: “I know that book.” The dean said, “That’s my favorite book!” They enthusiastically discussed the Christian theology of that book for the rest of the interview. At the end, they prayed together and gave thanks for their meeting. Subsequently, the dean eliminated all other chair candidates, much to the frustration of the departmental faculty, and hired the professor. The faculty could not work with him. His wife couldn’t create a positive social network. So they returned to the town from which they had come, wishing that that he had never accepted the job.

Living Life with Meaningful Coincidences

Expecting coincidences during daily life can become a way of living. They ebb and flow like ocean tides, coming in and moving out. They are more likely during major life events like birth and death both symbolic and real. They are also more likely to occur in times of high emotion, and need. They may pop up humorously and suggestively and mysteriously. They indicate that we are embedded in webs of meaning. They show us that we have abilities we may not have yet recognized.

We still must live the life of the 5 senses–driving the car, caring for loved ones, earning money, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of our bodies. We can learn to hold the multiplicity of our human capacities in balance, allowing our minds to gracefully meet the expectations of current and future demands. Synchronicity awareness then becomes part of the fluid landscape of our minds.