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If you expect the unexpected, anything can happen.

Serendipity  - The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident   - American Heritage Dictionary

 

Serendipity is not something that happens to you. Rather it is an attitude that can be cultivated. It is the willingness to be taken by surprise. It is an open-hearted approach to life that defies reason and transcends fear. 

 

Seduced by Negativity

 

Those who claim a rational or “realistic” attitude toward life view serendipity as a naïve fantasy - a childish fairytale for flaky dreamers. No one with substance and gravitas would consider it valid.


Realists will tell you that life hurts, and smart people protect themselves. They keep their head down, push through, and expect the worst. They pride themselves in being tough and able to take the hard knocks. They see success as just getting by, and life as a competition for survival.


What a grim trial we have made of life! In the words of “The Gambler” the famous song by Kenny Rogers: “The best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep” 


Sure, there is wisdom in lowering our expectations. If we expect life to be some ideal of perfection we will be disappointed again and again. Becoming an adult means coming to terms with things the way they are, not the way we think they should be. This is one of the difficult lessons of growing up.


But under the self-destructive influence of the ego we have turned that around so that most of us expect the worst. Our dreams have been dashed so many times that the only semblance of agency we can muster is to expect things to go wrong. Then, at least we get to be right about something.


The “substance and gravitas” that we measure a real man or woman by is their disillusionment with the world. We commiserate in the tragedies of life and squeeze a pitiful drop of righteousness out of being victims of our circumstances. And those who suggest otherwise are merely simpletons who don’t get it.


It is no wonder then that we are pitting ourselves against each other and destroying the fabric of our societies and eco-systems of our planet. Our currency is negativity and we are acting out of our animal instincts. We have accepted our ego’s view that it is everyone for themselves. But it doesn’t have to be like this.

 

Reviving the Magic

 

When we experience something bad happening to us, we are not seeing the whole picture. Conditioned by our ego-programming, we can only see from our limited perspective. Everything looks like it is about us and happening to us personally.


Serendipity is not a blind Pollyanna fantasy for childish minds. It is not simply pretending that bad things don’t happen. It is not putting blinders on or ignoring the fact that things often don’t turn out the way that we want them to.


Rather, serendipity is the very practical recognition that it is too soon to tell. Think about it. How do you know that something is bad when you don’t yet know how the story turns out?  How many times has something happened to you that you thought was bad, and later turned out to be a blessing?


Serendipity is simply a shift in perspective. It is zooming out further and further to get a wider and wider view. As we do that, the perception that something is wrong or bad begins to fade. We see each event as part of a continuum. One thing leads to another in an ongoing progression.


Life does involve pain. We are sentient beings and often feel hurt. Ordinary pain is simply a signal to stop and protect or take care of ourselves. But suffering is when we make it about us. We take it personally.


Widening our perspective frees us from the suffering that we attach to ordinary pain. If we look at our tragedies honestly, we can see that the story is not over yet. We don’t know how things will turn out in the end. It is too soon to tell. So, we have no basis for determining if that event was good or bad, do we?


This is the premise for the attitude of serendipity. It is a big-picture approach that acknowledges the fact that our perspective is limited by our self-definition. It is the honest admission that we don’t know. We can’t know the true value of something until the story is over. And it isn’t over yet.


Serendipity is based on the recognition that our expectations determine our experience. It is when we expect something, and something else happens, that we feel defeated, frustrated, angry, or depressed.


We are mentally programmed to have expectations and try to control and predict what will happen to us. But this approach defeats us each time. In the end we don’t have much control over our circumstances or the people around us. So having specific expectations sets us up for failure and tragedy.


Wisdom suggests that we focus on what we can control. We are in charge of our own thoughts and expectations. We can do something about these.


If we are willing to be surprised, then we remain open. If we let go of our specific idea of how something or someone is supposed to be, then we allow room for things to be as they are. If we expect the unexpected, anything can happen.


In striving for control we have condensed life into a pitiful acceptance of our personal tragedy. But remember, this is only because we are looking through the limiting lens of our ego. We are not seeing the big picture. We don’t know the whole story yet.


The way out is to let go of trying to control what we obviously cannot, and focusing on what we can. We can control our attitude. We can release our expectations. We can open our mind and heart and be willing to be surprised.


This takes courage and trust. It requires faith that behind the scenes there is an invisible force propelling us toward happiness.


It is a determination to stay open. It goes against the tide of negativity that we think of as reality. It can seem reckless and feel uncomfortable. But it can also open us to allow miracles to happen.


This the magic of serendipity. We know that things won’t turn out the way we think they should. But we stay open and trusting and willing to be surprised. And sometimes, things turn out way better than we ever could have imagined.


Serendipity is the medicine that we need to heal our negativity and follow a higher calling. It is the way out of this mess we are in. It is the recognition that there must be a bigger and brighter purpose to life, even if we can’t see it yet.


In the end perhaps it is merely a choice to believe in good rather than evil. It is the return to the mythological Eden where all things are connected as one whole and there is no separation, isolation, suffering, or death. It is choosing to believe in Santa Claus again, even if it seems naïve or childish.


We could as easily choose to believe that everything is rotten at the core and there is no higher purpose to life. We could remain in the dominant paradigm that bad things happen and the best we can do is brace ourselves for them.


But, given the choice, why not pick the happy ending? Why not believe in God and consider that things happen for a reason that serves the greater good, even if we can’t see it at the time. Doesn’t this choice seem to offer more possibility and promise?


The worst that can happen is that you will be disappointed. Perhaps there is no God. Perhaps Santa Clause really isn’t real. Oh well. You are already disappointed so there is nothing more to lose. Why not take a chance, even if it means being disappointed one more time?


All that is required is that you suspend your expectations. You stop trying to predict how things will turn out. The transformation that we call spiritual growth, awakening, or completion, only happens when we are not expecting it. It always takes us by surprise.


If we try to plan or script our enlightenment, we unknowingly block our experience of it. It is our reliance on our thinking mind that is the obstacle to self-realization. So, any use of this mind will automatically prevent us from seeing the truth of who we are.

Serendipity then, is the way that we transform ourselves and evolve spiritually. It enables us to get out of our own way and allow room for grace.


        We stay present and aware, and make room for the unexpected to happen. We stop trying to plan the future or change the past. We let things be as they are. And then, serendipitously, when we least expect it, contentment and serenity settle into our lap.

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