We often believe that we live an ordinary life. Even if this is true for some of us, if you take the time to look back at your daily routine, chances are that you’ll find a lot of things that seem out of place. Have you ever encountered someone you haven’t seen in years at the grocery store? Did you stumble upon something you were thinking of yesterday? Or maybe, you share your birthday with a close friend? When you pay enough attention, the world seems like a big system of “coincidences.” Are these random encounters in life a normal thing, or are we possibly surrounded by providence? It’s time to find out.
Probability vs belief
There are many different points of view that evaluate and try to explain the odds of an event. Some people take a more subjective approach and believe in a force that connects us all, so will often find coincidences meaningful and related to something bigger. They call this belief “synchronicity,” a causal connecting principle, so to speak. I’m sure you’ve heard of that story of a couple who first met at a very unexpected place. The fact that this happened seems like a tiny miracle, almost like they were destined to be together. On the flipside, large studies on the subject suggest that “mystical” explanations are just for those who don’t understand probabilities. For years, some had tried to dig deeper into the facts. While there certainly are incidents which have been explained by statistics or logic, many of them are very unrealistic, so you can’t just use math for them.
But, are they really uncommon?
Statistics, however, were able to prove something: uncommon events are still likely to occur. Although a bit weird, there might be a reason behind all of this. You see, although winning the lottery is, sadly, unlikely to happen, we do know that someone is going to win it. Why is this important to know? According to the law of truly large numbers, if there is a big enough sample, anything, no matter how outrageous, is likely to happen. We can easily understand how there are millions of people who are doing hundreds of things throughout the day, every single day.
Maybe you haven’t experienced anything fortuitous recently and this seems a bit far-fetched. If you think of yourself as part of the group, though, then chances are that someone you know right now is experiencing the most random likelihood of an event that you can imagine. These stories often go viral and we’re getting used to seeing them, as well. Whether or not we have witnessed them ourselves, unconsciously, we are acknowledging that coincidences do exist and can be quite normal.
Your brain also has something to say
People consider different things as coincidences. When your life suddenly gives you a little surprise, or something unexpectedly becomes oddly recurrent, it’s easy to wonder what the odds are of that specific thing actually happening. Your brain begins the process of trying to make sense of the peculiarity. Similarities and common patterns can be essential for navigating through the environment and for some can be an instinctual trait. Whenever we become aware of an unusual configuration, often we may think it holds a special value or significance. Our brains search for the most logical explanation. Additionally, as a species, we tend to cultivate coincidences. Whenever you learn a new word or get interested in something, you suddenly see it everywhere, right? This is because the mind made it seem important. We are now aware of it being where it had always been, before you noticed it.
None of this is anything to worry about! Oddities like these can be just a friendly reminder of how unpredictable life is. Be careful, because when you least expect it, something magical can happen to you.