Word Of the Week #566: Serendipity

June 11, 2015 by  

Serendipity: good luck in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries.

When was the last time you had good luck? What unexpected or fortunate discoveries have you made by chance? Do you remember the last time something wonderful happened in a way you’d never anticipated?

The Sunday Parade magazine featured an article titled, Tom Brokaw’s lucky star. The famous Brokaw luck has carried the NBC special correspondent through an adventurous life and a cancer diagnosis.” The article featured an insert titled, “5 WAYS TO GET LUCKIER” which I will feature in the next two WOW’s.

Kathleen McCleary writes, “A growing body of research says you can wield a powerful influence in your life. Here’s how.

Some luck can’t be controlled. You can’t influence what numbers come up on a winning lottery ticket, the weather on your wedding day or the flowerpot that falls from a window ledge as you’re walking by below. Yet “lucky” people do shape their own fortunes, through strategies that make it more likely good things will happen to them.

Take Melisa Atkeson of Falls Church, Va., who considers herself a “lucky” person. ‘Absolutely,’ she says. ‘Everday.’ Yet a few years ago Atkeson had a string of bad luck that would wobble the knees of the most stoic. Her husband, Meade, developed an illness no one could diagnose. Three weeks later, he left his job of 25 years. Her father died of a heart attack. Several financial investments nosedived and the couple lost much of their savings. Atkeson was a stay-at-home mom with five children at the time.

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For Atkeson, now 53, shaping her own fortune meant taking a ‘leap of faith’ into a new career as a social worker when she went back to work, even though she had years of experience in the computer industry. It meant following up on a lead during a casual conversation that lead to a terrific job a short commute from home. It meant appreciating that the anxiety that had plagued her much of her life was gone – because terrible things had happened and she survived them.

Call it serendipity – those moments when things align in wonderful ways you’d never anticipated. ‘You have to have your eyes open, recognize the unexpected when it happens and take action,’ says Dr. Stephann Makri, researcher into serendipity at University College London. Makri defines serendipity as when unexpected circumstances and a moment of insight lead to a valuable outcome. Think of Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming, who noticed all the dead bacteria around the mold in one of his culture dishes and figured out penicillin.”

This week’s focus is on serendipity. Have you ever had an unexpected circumstance and a moment of insight that lead to a valuable outcome? Have you ever had to make a “leap of faith?” How easy or difficult was it for you? How would it feel to find something good happen without looking for it?

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