Do you sometimes wonder whether a coincidence can be more than just a coincidence? In the positive psychology of synchronicity I describe many people’s experiences of coincidences, including my clients’ and my own, that seem so captivating, so striking and so uncanny that they seem “meant to be”. They seem to point to a higher organising force in the universe linking our inner and outer worlds. Examples include a clock mysteriously stopping when its owner dies or thinking of someone you haven’t seen for years and having them call you out of the blue soon afterward.
There were several reasons why I chose to write the second edition of my book, now called The Positive Psychology of Synchronicity: Enhance Your Mental Health with the Power of Coincidence (released in August 2019; the original title was Synchronicity: Empower Your Life with the Gift of Coincidence).
As the new title suggests I wanted to integrate the book’s themes further with the burgeoning field of positive psychology, a science of well-being. I also wanted to spell out more fully some of the potential benefits from meaningful coincidences for mental health.
Benefits of synchronicity
I’m particularly interested in the potential benefits of synchronicity to enhance mental health by boosting our PERMA. Positive psychology uses this acronym to guide us to the five core pillars of happiness. Anything that boosts our positive emotion, engagement in life roles, relationships, personal meaning and accomplishment is likely to promote our overall well-being and positive mental health. My book spells out how synchronistic experiences can help do this.
As one of the core benefits for well-being, I believe synchronicity can be a guide for our optimal life path or destiny, bolstering our sense of purpose and meaning. Many people describe that they experience synchronicity, especially when frequent or striking, as affirming their life direction. Synchronicity might then serve as a “tick from the universe” that you are on the right track.
Synchronicity can also bolster our sense of connection to others and to the world around us. Uncanny timing in our encounters with others, also known as “propinquity”, can bolster our existing relationships and forge new connections that seem all the more meaningful.
Synchronistic experiences can also encourage our use of intuition at a deeper level. The potential meaning of synchronistic incidents is often disguised or hidden, especially initially. Reflecting on such experiences can prompt us to use our intuition beyond merely a rational appraisal of our current circumstances. This can help unlock new insights and encourage us to reflect more creatively on how we are living our lives.
One of the emerging themes in positive psychology and mental health more generally is a greater scientific interest in the link between spirituality and well-being. For the 30% or so of Westerners who identify themselves as being spiritual without being religious, appreciating synchronicity is one of the more common and practical windows into a transpersonal dimension in life. Lest people see such a phenomenon as being overly mystical and unscientific, I include recent objective research findings on the mental health benefits of “sacred experience”, of which synchronicity is one example.
Changes in the second edition
The theoretical basis of the book is strengthened not only by more explicit links to positive psychology research, but also by including updated information on related topics including other authors’ recent writings about synchronicity. Beyond updating research and other references, an extensive index has been added to help access various themes. Additional information includes uncanny links to Plato’s writings and more recent advances in our understanding of psychic phenomena, brain science and psychiatry.
The book is strengthened by many further anecdotes from clients, colleagues and readers of the first edition. Synchronistically, I received a burst of new stories from readers within a week of starting writing the second edition, despite them generally not knowing I was updating the book.
If you have your own stories of weird and wonderful coincidences, please contact me via the Contact Us . page. This topic truly comes alive through other people’s stories. If you get to read the book and find it useful, please mention it to others, or even consider writing a review on Amazon or other book sites. I believe the more people discuss such topics, the less stigma there will be around sharing ideas that are based more on intuitive thinking and mystical experience than rational appraisal alone. Many of my clients have found this liberating, helpful and motivating.
– Chris Mackey is a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society and is the principal psychologist at Chris Mackey and Associates, with 40 years’ psychotherapy experience. He received the 2019 Australian Allied Health Impact Award for his clinical research and media work.
The Positive Psychology of Synchronicity was released in August 2019.
The new edition also refers to updated web-based materials including information and mental health tips at the Resources page at our practice website, at the book’s website (www.www.synchronicityunwrapped.com.au) and at the Chris Mackey Psychology YouTube channel.