We’ve all had those moments; a certain song—and its accompanying memories—has played in our head all day, and when we turn on the radio, it’s on the air. Or a friend we haven’t heard from in years has been on our mind, and suddenly we get an email or phone call from them.
In many cases, we’ll write this off as mere coincidence. But Chris Mackey, a clinical and counseling psychologist in Geelong West, Australia, says there can be much more to these unexplained incidents than coincidence. And when it happens on a large and impactful scale—such as something extraordinary happening that supports a recent life-changing decision we’ve made—it moves beyond the notion of a coincidence and becomes synchronicity.
More than a coincidence
“Synchronicity refers to coincidences that are so uncanny and meaningful that they seem to go beyond chance,” explains Chris, a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society. “Synchronistic experiences can seem so improbable that they lead us to wonder about a mysterious hidden order in the universe. I think synchronicity is often an affirming ‘tick from the universe’ that [lets us know] we are on the right track.”
While many view synchronicity as something mystical, Carl Jung was among those who viewed synchronicity as having both scientific and psychological components. The primary attribute of synchronicity is that it is meaningful, and not just what we might call a happy coincidence. Chris described it as something that can potentially enhance one’s sense of engagement, purpose and meaning.
Chris has studied the use of synchronicity as it applies to positive psychology and has applied it in a therapeutic setting. His work led to his recently published book, Synchronicity: Empower Your Life With the Gift of Confidence.
Acknowledge, cherish synchronistic experiences
Chris’ findings show that synchronicity correlates with the PERMA model of well-being, in that it is associated with positive feelings, helps with engagement in our life roles, improves relationships by increasing our sense of connections with others and can help us gain personal meaning from our experiences.
“It is often motivating and energizing in a way that supports our accomplishment,” he says. Acknowledging synchronistic experiences can also help us become more aware of them – which often leads to more of these “uncanny coincidences.” In other words, just being aware of synchrony can help invite it into our lives.
Write it out
“To further appreciate synchronistic experiences, it can help to record them in a journal,” Chris recommends. “As with recording dreams, recording synchronistic experiences can help increase their frequency and intensity.”
To better appreciate synchronicity and what it has to teach us, he says it’s important to be open and aware to noticing it in action. Synchronicity often has a mysterious or “numinous” quality to it, and is often accompanied by positive reactions such as a sense of awe and wonder. That can help open our minds—and our hearts—to new experiences and possibilities.
Invite in the irrational, cosmic connections
“Synchronicity also has a sacred quality, inviting us to wonder about the nature of our lives and existence beyond what is readily obvious or rationally explained,” Chris says. “Appreciating our synchronistic experiences draws on our intuition as we creatively reflect on ourselves, our lives and where we are heading.”
Paula Felps is the Science Editor at Live Happy.