Jul 10, 2007

Mere Coincidences

Just received a follow-up email from one of my readers, Ming, who had tried out my recommendation of writing down goals. He shared an account of an interesting incident that just happened to him.

Ming had written down a goal which, let's just say, requires technical expertise that Ming does not have. Anyway, a day after writing down his goal, Ming was at a HDB void deck when a complete stranger walked up to him, introduced himself and started helping Ming with his technical challenge. For free.

It turned out that the stranger is a professional (ie earns his living) out of this kind of technical challenge. The stranger then passed Ming his name card and told Ming to contact him if he needed to tackle more technical challenges of this sort.

I'm deliberately being vague here, because there is no point going into full details. The skeptics would just say that it was a strange and unusual coincidence. As I had previously
mentioned, it is quite easy and tempting to dismiss such occurrences as mere coincidence. And that is precisely why I said that you must record your coincidences in writing, so that eventually you will see a distinct, consistent, regular and unmistakeable pattern emerging, between your "coincidences" and your written goals:

"If you really want to thoroughly investigate whether thoughts affect reality, then quite apart from doing the writing exercises every day, you should also keep a diary to record significant daily events or occurrences in your life. Pay attention especially to synchronicities that crop up in response to your written goals.

The term
synchronicity was coined by Carl Jung, one of the founding fathers of modern psychology. It refers to the experience of two or more events which occur in a meaningful manner, but which are causally inexplicable to the person or persons experiencing them. Jung's own definition was the "temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events.

"For example, suppose you write these goals - "I have very good friends" and "I find a new job that I really love, in interior design." Two days later, you bump into an good old friend whom you had lost touch with and hadn't seen for 10 years. While you're happily chatting with him, he suddenly says, "Hey, I'm now working in an interior design firm. We are looking to hire a new person. Do you happen to know anyone who might be interested?"

This would be an example of how reality reacts synchronistically to your thoughts. You will, of course, be inclined to dismiss it as a strange but random coincidence ... until you see it happening again, and again, and again, and again, and again. Record all these down, so that you can review them later and analyse the probability that in fact it was all random.

If you do your recording faithfully, I believe that you will soon realise that reality is constantly shifting and bending to make your thoughts to come true. If your thoughts are focused on your goals, then reality will constantly shift and bend to make your goals come true.

I have asked Ming to consider the following:

(a) How many times in your life has any stranger walked up to you in a void deck, introduced himself and struck up a conversation?

(b) What are the chances that this stranger would turn out to be an expert in the exact kind of technical problem you were wanting to solve? And that the stranger would help you for free?

(c) is it not a rather REMARKABLE coincidence that all this happened just one day after you wrote down yoyr goal of tackling this technical challenge?

Of course, Ming may still not be convinced. Which is why I told him - in that case, just go create another coincidence with your thoughts. And another, and another, and another. Each helping you to get closer to your goals. Make as many coincidences as you need. And if you're still not convinced, well, never mind, because by then you will have achieved all your goals anyway.

Anyway, there's another trick I want to elaborate on. It relates to Point 9 of my previous post, where I had written:

"Frame your goal in positive terms. Do not say: "I learn not to be so shy." Say: "I am a confident, sociable person, comfortable around other people."
There are two things which your unconscious mind is not very good at. Firstly, it does not understand time very well. It cannot really tell the difference between past, present and future. It tends to take every statement as being a description of the present, not the past nor the future (I'll elaborate on this next time).

The second thing is that your unconscious mind cannot understand negatives. It cannot understand words like "not", "cannot" or "never". If you try to plant a message like ""I learn not to be so shy" into your unconscious mind, it's likely to get the message "I learn to be shy" - that is, the direct opposite. That is why hypnotherapists are always very careful about how they choose their words.

To give you a somewhat bizarre example, late last night I composed my preceding post about Sudoku etc. (The time-stamp says 7:33 pm but that is the time I started writing - I actually finished writing it and posted it later than that). Soon after posting it, I went to bed. Now notice Point 1 of my goal-writing post:

""1. The best times to do this exercise are early in the morning, soon after you've woken up, or late at night, shortly before you go to bed."
I had not been writing about my goals, but I had been writing my Sudoku post, and in that post, I had said:


"...... ever since I started on my new job, I've been reading less and less of the Straits Times, and more and more of the news from Bloomberg. Nowadays, several days can go by without my reading the Straits Times at all.

My previous job was already quite regional in its scope. My new job is even more international.I find it more important to focus on international news than local news. And by default, the news that shows up on my Bloomberg is "top news" from around the world. Singapore is never "top news" ..."

Now, as I said, the unconscious mind is very bad at understanding negatives. Given a sentence like "Singapore is never top news", the unconscious mind will likely interpret it as "Singapore is top news". That's because the unconscious mind just doesn't comprehend words like "never".

What happens next is that my unconscious mind will start bending reality to make my reality a reality where "Singapore is top news".

This morning, in the office, I logged on to my Bloomberg and checked the news. For once, Singapore was right there among the Bloomberg top news articles. Not only that - Singapore was the top article among all the top news articles worldwide.



Singapore Economy Grows at Fastest Pace in Two Years (Update2)
By Shamim Adam

Construction at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore

July 10 (Bloomberg) -- Singapore's economy grew at the fastest pace in two years as soaring demand for apartments and offices spurred construction. Stocks surged to a record.

Gross domestic product expanded an annualized 12.8 percent in the three months ended June, up from a revised 8.5 percent in the first quarter, the trade ministry said today. Growth exceeded all forecasts by economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Construction increased the most in a decade, reflecting success in attracting companies including Citigroup Inc. and Daiwa Securities Group Inc. to expand operations or set up new ones. Singapore's prime office rents have gained more than three times as fast as in rival hubs Hong Kong and Tokyo, while investors are paying record prices for luxury apartments ....
Heheh. Of course the skeptics will laugh. As I said, don't be shy. What's the harm in trying it out? Write down your goals, keep your diary, and watch the coincidences pile up. One after another, and another, and another, and another, and another ......

To make your experiment more interesting, try thinking bizarrely positive thoughts, or just plain bizarre thoughts. What you will experience shortly thereafter are bizarrely positive coincidences, or just plain bizarre coincidences.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

hmmmm, i don't mind trying. i'm writing "i hope the old fossil will go away permanently within this year."

don't blame me if the police come knocking at your door later...

brad said...

concidence ba.

Mr Wang Says So said...

By the way, Ming, what you experienced is sometimes known as the alpha reflection. Hang on to your goal, and you'll soon experience the beta reflection. More details here.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Hi Mr. Wang,

You've highlighted an interesting topic for discussion! I think your observation is valid, but I would explain it in a different way.

My explanation is made up of two stories:

1. Many years ago, I was debating with my friend. He said that there is no such thing as luck. I disagreed because I thought he meant that everything is predestinated.

"Look! You cannot predict perfectly whether the coin will turn up heads or tails. If you try many many times you will only get it right 50-50. Of course luck exists!"

Later I realize that he is meant something else. Of course any single event has an element of luck in it. But when you aggregate many events together, a predictable pattern emerges.

If not, how can a casino make steady money?

Any one event that a person encounters could be largely due to luck. But luck plays less of a role when you are talking about a person's whole life.

Maybe a person was lucky to have seized an opportunity that others missed. But how did she recognize the opportunity?

French scientist Louis Pasteur once said: "Fortune favours the prepared mind."

American industrialist Thomas Edison tested over a thousand materials before he "luckily" hit the right one to use as a filament for his light bulb.

Whether he might have hit the jackpot after the first try or 10 tries is indeed a matter of luck.

But each time he failed, he learnt a little more about how to assess the next material.

To better assess an opportunity for success.

Over time, luck no longer matters.

Methods of writing down your goals can help you to encourage yourself and focus your mind to recognize the next opportunity. In combination with hard work, and later smart work, it is a helpful aid toward success.

2. A psychologist wrote this story in a textbook. One day, he was relaxing on a grass field when he suddenly saw a tiny patch of wild asparagus tucked somewhere in the corner of the field.

He wanted to pick some more to bring home to cook, so he looked around.

To his surprise, the grass field was filled with patches of asparagus!

Did these asparagus patches spring in existence just because he thought about them?

Not quite.

In the beginning, he wasn't expecting to find anything on the field, so he couldn't recognize them.

Once he picked some asparagus, his senses were sharpened towards noticing unique features of asparagus patches.

As a result, he could now see what the untrained eye could not see.

This is called operant learning.

For a person who is deeply immersed in her field of interest, what appears to be meaningless background noise, or "mere concidences" to other people, may really be clues towards unlocking the secret of success.

This is a well-understood process and doesn't require any magic to work.

Anonymous said...

Economics nobel laureate Merton concluded his autobiography be4 receiving his prize with this classic sentence, referring to LTCM of which he was one of the founders:

"It was deliciously intense and exciting to have been a part of creating LTCM. For making it possible, I will never be able to adequately express my indebtedness to my extraordinarily talented LTCM colleagues.

The distinctive LTCM experience from the beginning to the present characterizes the theme of the productive interaction of finance theory and finance practice. Indeed, in a twist on the more familiar version of that theme, the major investment magazine, Institutional Investor characterized the remarkable collection of people at LTCM as "The best finance faculty in the world. "

In long retrospect, unexpected roads happily traveled."

What do u make of it, if taken as an example of mindhacking, hehe?

Mr Wang Says So said...

Lim:

That is a reasonable & logical deduction by you - however, TAR regularly works in more dramatic fashion than that.

For example, I once manifested the intention to speak at an international industry conference. Actually I had never spoken at any industry conference before (local or international). And I had never told anyone that I had any interest in speaking at any such conference.

However, within one week of my writing down the goal, my boss appeared in front of me and said, "I would like you to speak at an international conference. Here are the details, this is the date, this is the venue, here is your topic, ask your secretary to book the flight. Please start preparing your Powerpoint presentation."

Thus you see, TAR goes beyond spotting concealed opportunities. In this example, the opportunity walked to my desk, stood in front of me, demanded my attention and announced itself in most unmistakeable fashion.

Of course, skeptics will say "Bah, coincidence" ... again ... and again ... and again ... and again ... and again ...

As I said, all you have to do is try it for yourself, and you will see.

JB said...

Mr Wang,

This morning I wrote my goal to meet a talking frog. Bizarre enough surely? Check.

During lunch I did. There was Kermit the Frog in all his green glory at the MPH Bookstore I was at. This was indeed serendipitous or let's make that 'synchronicity'.

Yours, like any pseudoscience psychobabble uses either personal and/or anecdotal accounts as *evidence* for your belief. And of course these coincidences could not possibly be due to 'confirmation bias', wishfool thinking or cherry picking evidence as if it were irrefutable ones? Did you say Bah! earlier?

There is simple test. Why don't you write down your goal as "I am going to the moon by end 2007/8/9?" Pick any date you wish.

Let your readers know when you are taking that USD 20 Million flight on that Russian spaceship.

Since the Universe can deliver anything you wish for, what's a little hop to the moon?

I promise I won't say "bah" but will be a believer when that happens.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Going to outer space would certainly be possible for me, if I really wanted.

I would set the date at 31 December 2009. By then it will be a simple matter of money.

It would cost about USD 100,000, not a small sum, but I can pay for this, if I really wanted to.

All you have to do is go to Changi and buy a ticket. Click here to see.

Space tourism is already available in Russia, but it costs more and they are fully booked till 2009.

As for senior citizen John Goddard, I do hope that he lives long enough to make it to the moon.

He is already in his 70s and he was 15 years old when he set 127 amazing goals, one of which was to visit the moon. So far John has achieved 111 of his goals - click here to see. He is still hoping to make it to the moon.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Oh, I guess JB is a believer now! Hahahaa.

Anonymous said...

erm...jb actually said 'to the moon', not merely going to outer splace. The challenge is vastly different.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Going to outer space would certainly be possible for me, if I really wanted.

I would set the date at 31 December 2009. By then it will be a simple matter of money.


Hmm... not quite. I think JB has put up a solid challenge. He said:

Since the Universe can deliver anything you wish for, what's a little hop to the moon?

The moon is 4000 times further away than the suborbital flight you mentioned.

It is impossible to go to the Moon by 31 Dec 2009, because there are no vehicles to take you there. NASA's Orion vehicle won't be ready to go to the Moon until 2020.

As for senior citizen John Goddard, I do hope that he lives long enough to make it to the moon.

Why hope if you can just TAR?

The Secret said...

ahh Mr Wang, you have understood the Secret! There's no such thing as coincidence in the universe.

If you didn't have that thought that "Singapore is top news", no way would that article have made the headlines.

JB said...

Going to outer space would certainly be possible for me, if I really wanted.

Suborbital flight isn't going to the moon now is it?

Please write that as your goal and make it to the moon and do let us know when you intend to achieve it.

moomooman said...

Hi Wang,

Long time never leave comments here.

I would like to do your kind of job leh. You can blog as much on top of your work load, your family time etc.

You have blog 35 times in May and already 10 times in July. About 1 serious blog a day, if not a little more.

Damn can! Can I join you in your work? I got limited legal training. haha.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Ah, apologies, JB! I was misled by your own reference to the USD 20 million Russian space flight (which is NOT to the moon).

Moon tourism will take longer, but it's certainly on the cards, and yes, people are working on it. If you type "moon tourism" into Google, you get slightly more than 2 million hits. Examples here:

$100 Million Moon Trip: Space Tourism's Hot Ticket

Earth's Moon: Mining or Tourism

Moon Tourism Just Around The Corner.

One thing you may begin to see now is that it's rather difficult to think of "impossible" examples to theoretically test LOA.

The fact that you are able to conceive of something, call it X, means that other people are able to think of it too -

and the fact that people are able to think of it, means that quite likely, it is already reality, or on its way to becoming reality. That, after all, is the nature of TAR.

Of course, the flip side also applies to a person seeking to convince others about TAR. The person may attempt to give amazing examples of real individuals who did amazing things, but this will fail to impress the skeptics, because the fact that these amazing things were done, means that they are already possible, and therefore, in the skeptic's mind, cannot prove TAR.

So it is a bit of a mutual conundrum.

Now - the usual challenge is, if TAR works, why not grow a limb? Go to the moon? Achieve world peace?

The reason is that there are very practical limits to TAR, and they usually end at much more mundane levels.

For the individual, the limits lie exactly where your ability to change your beliefs end. If for example, you strongly believe you cannot pass your O-levels, then you cannot. If you strongly believe that you cannot quit your addiction to alcohol, then you cannot. If you strongly believe that you cannot earn $250,000 a year, then you cannot. There is no need for grander examples such as levitation, jumping over tall buildings in a single bound etc.

And the other important element is desire. Steve Pavlina writes, in the article I linked to about alpha reflection, the necessity of being able to conjure up positive emotion when you visualise your goal being achieved. If there is no positive emotion, then there is no real desire, therefore mindhacking is of little use. Most people do not seriously desire to go to the moon, levitate or jump over tall buildings in a single bound.

I already alluded to this element of a need of personal desire, in my own way, in my earlier post on writing down your goals. I mentioned it in Point 5:

"Choose goals that are personally important to you and which would really make a difference to your life if they were achieved."

If you choose goals that are too abstract or too far removed or for which you have no real desire, TAR won't get you very far. Today you may want to argue with Mr Wang about the possibility of jumping over tall buildings in a single bound. By tomorrow, you will have forgotten and stopped thinking about this (apparently ludicruous) idea. So obviously TAR is of no help to you. You couldn't even hold the thought for more than a day.

That is why, as a practical matter, I don't believe I will be going to the moon. Even if I had USD 100 million to spare, I would rather use it for other purposes, eg funding charitable causes. As a matter of fact, I don't think I will ever have USD 100 million, because as a practical matter of fact, long before I achieve that amount, I would have lost interest in earning money - I would already have moe than enough, and would be content to stop trying to earn more. Just putting a tenth of USD 10m on fixed deposit will generate quite enough for me.

Finally, in TAR, it is always important to identify what your true intentions are. For example, if you think that your goal is to earn more money, then you have to ask yourself, what is the reason you wish to earn more money. In other words, you uncover your deeper intention. It will be easier to manifest, because it is what you really want.

I mention this, because obviously JB is not seriously intending to go to the moon. His true intention is probably to prove that TAR does not work. In that case, if he holds his intention sufficiently long, he WILL be able to convince at least SOME people that TAR does not work.

Of course if a person's true intention is to find out whether TAR works or not, well then, if he holds that intention, sooner or later he will find out the real answer to that question.

For that is the nature of TAR. ;)

In a future post, I will discuss further about confirmation bias, which JB mentioned. I agree that I have it. In fact, I believe that the vast majority of the human race has it, and to a very great degree, at extremely most fundamental levels. That is why in the end, there is no objective external reality. Everything that a person knows or understands about his reality is merely:

(a) what he perceives about reality (his sense data);

(b) his mental interpretation of those perceptions (the meanings he attaches to the sense data he perceives).

Thus thoughts create our reality, and the building blocks of thought are our perceptions of sense data.

Confirmation bias strikes us deep and hard, at both stage (a) and stage (b) of the process.

1. Therefore those who deeply believe that TAR is false will not perceive evidence of TAR at work anywhere.

2. Those who deeply believe that TAR is true will perceive evidence of TAR at work everywhere.

3. Those who believe that TAR could be possible, will perceive evidence that TAR could be possible.

Points 1 - 3 are true, because confirmation bias exists, and, yes, because TAR is true. Your thoughts do affect your reality..

I must be stupid said...

Mr Wang,

My aunties, uncles, cousins, grandpareants have been buying toto for countless of years. Certainly, they believe that they will stike the jackpot one day. But till this day, they have not. While i do believe that they have a chance to strike it big one day, the question is: How can you show that it is TAR at work and not chance alone?

Otherwise going by your logic, the few thousand odd people who struck toto over the past decade ought to be proof that thoughts can affect reality in the magical way you've described them. After all they believed that they will strike toto and they did.

peasantsgetowned said...

Mr Wang,

I know of one author who experience TAR. During the writing of his book, he assumed he was a millionaire and he wrote that down in his book. Some time after his book was published, he became a millionaire by people making his book a bestseller. He is none other than Robert Kiyosaki.

The Secret said...

To "I must be stupid":

That's the beauty of intention-manifestation. If it works, it's because you believed hard enough. If not, it doesn't mean that it won't come true.. you just gotta work harder at believing. Then it will come true in the future.

Isn't it a wonderful concept? :)

Anonymous said...

As time goes by this site and topics such as these will definitely attract the finest minds in Singapore.

The Last Man Standing

JB said...

Dear Mr. Wang,

I posted a reply yesterday morning to your latest comments replying to my earlier post and am wondering why it has not been published.

As a courtesy to your readers in general and me personally, perhaps you could explain why my post has been censored?

Perhaps you merely overlooked to publish it.

Either way, I would appreciate some sort of response.

Thanking you in advance.

The Secret said...

peasantsgetowned:

Yes, writing a book that encourages people to quit their jobs to do MLM, and makes empty promises that they will become millionaires, is a great way to get rich.

That's Kiyosaki's secret.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Hello JB:

You are most welcome to repost your comment again, minus the unnecessary hostility.

Then I shall be happy to publish your comment and respond. :)

Otherwise I'll have to treat you as one of those undesirable little aspects of my reality that have been created by my less-positive thoughts -

in other words, simply by ignoring your existence and not thinking of you, I shall cause your nastiness to vanish from my reality.

You cannot exist in my reality unless I think of you. That is the nature of TAR.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mr Wang Says So said...

Above comment from a reader reposted below (with email address deleted):

"Hi Mr Wang

This may sound silly, but all my life I've suspected that whenever I declare a negative assumption to myself, the opposite will come true. "I'll never be thin/sporty/do someting" etc has very often manifisted in reverse without effort.

I've been quite thrilled about the methods you talked about. But after 4 days of writing down my goals, in the way you described, one of them manifested in *reverse* and I'm starting to get a bit bugged by it.

It's funny, isn't it.

So, which way should i stick to? Which paradigm should I hold? Would apprecaite your thoughts on this.

You can email me in reply at [XXXXXXXXXXXX] or post this without my email address. Many thanks!"

QQ said...

phwah, u believe in this too? that's very nice to know. for some reason, the more you pay attention to it, the more it happens and once you forget about it, it goes away. have had several such meaningful coincidences in my life, big and small ones, and i won't say they're entirely by chance. unfortunately, i got bogged down by too many things over the years and never thought about it again till recently, and now this let's-just-go-lurk-in-someone's-blog whim really brought it back. thanks much!