Last year I had my first solo travel experience in Dublin for four days. On that trip, I scheduled my days with tours and day trips to make sure I stayed busy. But this year I felt ready for a little more adventure and decided to leave more time unscheduled. Having chunks of unscheduled time is a new experience for me. Before I retired I felt compelled to schedule all my activities and make sure I didn’t “waste” any of my precious free time. Now I have more free time and am learning to enjoy open spaces in my schedule.
I had two delightful experiences on my trip that were totally unplanned and unexpected. The first occurred when a quick visit to the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh to see the unique architecture turned into an hour plus visit observing debates in Parliament thanks to a tip from a Scottish couple I met standing in the security line. Pre-retirement I would have had a fully planned agenda and no time for an unplanned opportunity
The second occurred in Liverpool. I had three destinations on my agenda that day and planned to spend a couple of hours at each one. When I arrived at the Museum of Liverpool, my first stop of the day, I discovered that the Singh twins, artists I admired, were giving a talk that afternoon. Instead of going everywhere on my list for that day, I toured the museum, had a cappuccino and brownie in the coffee shop, and attended the Singh twins’ presentation. There were only about thirty people in attendance, and the presentation was delightful. I met the twins and got their signature on a print of a painting commissioned by the city of Liverpool to celebrate Liverpool’s status as European Capital of Culture in 2008
I realized that I experienced these delights because I was able to take advantage of opportunities on the spur of the moment. We can’t make serendipity happen, but we can create a personal environment that increases our odds of experiencing it. Being retired and having more control over our time provides a great starting point for bringing more serendipity into our lives. The following steps can increase our chances of having serendipitous moments even more.
- Be open to new experiences. Cultivate the approach of children who enthusiastically agree to something and then tell us they don’t know what it is.
- Relax. Anxiety gets in the way of noticing. When we are relaxed, we are more open to the world around us.
- Seek out variety. As we look for new opportunities, we experience more joyful moments.
Trust your intuition. The more we pay attention to our intuition, the more it guides us to new experiences
“The more space you’ve cleared in your life for something new, the more right things will happen.”