I’ve been reading a terrific book called the Resiliency Advantage by Dr. Al Siebert. In one of the chapters he writes about the fact that resilient people tend to experience the gift of serendipity.
Serendipity can be defined as the ability to discover good fortunes accidentally and from unfortunate events. It comes from the wisdom to convert an unexpected event or mishap into something positive.
Three Elements That Create Serendipity
- Something unexpected or accidental happens to you.
- Your perceptiveness and optimism lead you to discover…
- The unexpected benefit or blessing.
When you are open-minded and solution oriented you believe you have control over what happens to you. You don’t believe you are at the mercy of good luck and bad luck. Not only will you survive a negative occurrence, but you will see opportunities and end up thriving as a result of that experience. By doing so you discover strengths you didn’t know you had and you steer your life in a different and more positive direction.
As I read this chapter I immediately thought of a life changing misfortune that I experienced in 2011 that ended up changing my life for the better. Anyone who has known me for several years knows I was an avid distance runner during my teens and twenties. I ran numerous distance events and placed very well in all of them. Finally, I ran my first marathon in Vienna in April of 2011. My goal was not only to run the marathon but to qualify for the Boston marathon. (That is on every distance runner’s bucket list). While training I developed a mystery injury. Even though I knew something was wrong I did the race anyway. I reduced my training during the month before the race to prevent the injury from worsening. I completed the 26.2 miles in 3:30 and qualified for Boston! Then I had my injury diagnosed. I had a pelvic stress fracture that ultimately took 3 years to heal. Not only was Boston, not an option but I was now missing out on the social aspect of my running. I missed the company and friends I’d made and felt a little empty because a significant part of my identity was that ‘I am a runner.’
After feeling depressed for a couple a weeks I found myself wandering into Barnes and Noble seeking a new nutrition book to read, mainly because I was bored and I find nutrition to be extremely interesring. I figured if I can’t exercise I may as well learn something more. The book I decided to buy- The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder changed my life. After reading it, I converted from and vegetarian to a mostly vegan and gluten free diet. I became more inspired to learn about this lifestyle and help others to understand it and try it too. I became a certified health coach. Since then, I have elevated my health, found my happy weight, improved the appearance of my skin and hair and been able to coach others to achieve their wellness goals. I also discovered Bikram yoga. Since I had more time on my hands I began a yoga practice that is so amazing and vast. I can’t imagine life without yoga now. I still stay in touch with my running community and now I am part of a yoga community where I have met terrific people.
If I hadn’t gotten that devastating long-term injury I may not have found these two passions that have such an immensely positive impact on my life and the lives of others I’ve helped to influence and inspire.
So how do you avail yourself to serendipitous outcomes? The art of resiliency involves looking for the elusive benefits when faced with difficulties by asking three questions:
- What’s good about this?
- How can make this benefit me?
- What unexpected and unique opportunity has this created.
These questions prepare your mind discover benefits in events that may cause others to get upset and give up. We have all heard the cliche “You can’t control what happens to you. You can control how you respond to it.” I also believe that when you expect good things to happen to you, it’s easier to have a positive outlook and find the benefits in event that occur. In other words, two people can have the same unfortunate event happen to them. The resilient person will see the potential positives and make the declaration that they will overcome it and come out better and stronger. The less resilient person allows it to overwhelm them with stress and feels victimized and helpless to control what happens next.
Fortunately resiliency is a strength you can learn and get better at.