Do You Have Experience With Serendipity Yourself?

Do you have experience with serendipity yourself?

Has something ever happened to you – in your life – that you actually did not expect at all, and at the same time represented a much desired find? We call such a happy coincidence serendipity because it presents itself to you just like that, without warning, and has the ability to grab your attention instantly.

You may think that the whole concept of serendipity is just a sophisticated way of psychologically redefining the category of ‘involuntary events’. Yet that is not the case, and there is indeed a big difference with what is colloquially called stupid – or pure – coincidence. The chance of serendipity increases the more you delve into something, concentrate on it in a positive way, and become receptive to the sudden dawning of new, revealing insights.

The origin of the word serendipity

The term serendipity (in Arabic: Sarandib or Serendib ) originates from an Eastern saga titled The Three Princes of Serendipi, which is the Persian name of the island of Ceylon (in modern Western topography: Sri Lanka). To some extent we owe the transmission of this notion to Horace Walpole, who translated and interpreted it into English in 1754.

In this short story, three very astute princes are sent by their father on an expedition to discover and cultivate new regions. At one point during their trip, they are accused of theft by someone who has lost his camel, and claims that no one but the princes – because of the information they reveal to him – can be the culprits.

Finally, chance — or rather serendipity — proves their rescue: the camel appears, out of nowhere, on the scene, proving so clearly that the princes had not misappropriated the animal .

Four famous inventions discovered by chance thanks to the principle of serendipity

So far we have come to know that serendipity, in Royston M. Roberts’s words, can be defined as “discoveries that arise spontaneously from a combination of unanticipated fluke, made possible by pre-existing intelligence and a supreme state of alert.”  Even more interesting is how this principle – in practice – is realized time and again. Just look at the following examples of things we are all familiar with, which are emphatically based on serendipity.

  • : The Scot  A. Fleming revolutionized our medicine when he literally accidentally stumbled upon penicillin, the ancestor of all our modern antibiotics. He was researching the flu in his lab, and saw – to his own dismay – that the majority of his petri dish cultures were contaminated. It wasn’t until he showed a friend and colleague one of his failed preparations that he saw – again in amazement – how something had killed the staphylococcus bacteria.
  • : While nowhere near the same lifesaving importance as penicillin, there’s no denying the usefulness of these simple sticky notes. Inventor Spencer Silver planned – on behalf of the aerospace industry – to develop an extremely strong glue. His efforts unexpectedly resulted in a weak, not-too-tacky glue, which, however – eureka! – left no traces or so-called ‘residue’. The alternative to the limited applicability pin was born.
  • In 1953 chef George Crum was serendipity robberies when he tried to irritate a customer who always complained about the thickness of his potatoes. In defiance, he cut the slices extra thin before placing them in the frying pan with oil. The culinary consequence turned out to be completely opposite to his expectations, but the gentleman in question loved it. And today people all over the world like to eat French fries.
  • : Who would think Viagra originally came from scientific research and testing of chest pain and heart pain medicines? As soon as those involved became aware of the blood circulation-stimulating effect on the male genitals, the active ingredient – ​​sildenafil, which also only slightly relieved breast pain – was marketed as the new remedy for erection problems.

Why serendipity appeals so strongly to our imagination

Serendipity has – as an idea – almost a romantic or intellectual-hypnotic appeal, especially for young people and young adults. This magical luck or haphazard luck is idealized and adored in movies, books, poetry collections (such as David Sadness’s), and even in tattoos and lyrical songs.

Serendipity arouses so much interest and is so enticing because we see and experience it as a paragon of positive energy—as if fate is kind to us, enchanting our lives henceforth with its mysterious gift. It is a kind of blessed halo of prosperity and happiness that appears on our personal horizon at just the right time. I too didn’t really believe in serendipity until it honored me with a visit. Since then, I’ve been paying more attention to the details and ‘coincidental’ coincidences in my life, listening inwardly to what they – in essence – might mean.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button