My Theory of Random Discovery Happiness

RDH is the state of elation achieved from serendipitously finding a wonderful opportunity that would never have stood out if you were systematically searching for it.

What is Random Discovery Happiness?

I am a huge believer in the theory of Random Discovery Happiness, or RDH, for short. Maybe it’s because I was introduced to a light version of Taoism at an early age, but it has pretty much been my guiding principle in life.

RDH is the state of elation achieved from serendipitously finding a wonderful opportunity that would never have stood out if you were systematically searching for it.

Once you learn the skills needed for, RDH, it helps you find the good moments within any circumstances. This means that the biggest catastrophes can still turn out okay.

If your trip to the fair is rained out, you can have an epic day of splashing in puddles.

If the playground is closed for repairs, you can spend a surprising amount of time watching a roly-poly bug meandering across a sidewalk.

If you throw a party and don’t realize that the electronic invitations were continually left in edit mode and therefore not sent, you can go around to your neighbors and invite them over for lunch and call it a block party.

RDH is the sweet and tangy taste of the lemonade you make out of life’s lemons. It’s the surprise inside a Cracker Jack box. It’s a gorgeous chain made out of 10,000 spoons instead of whatever it was you were going to do with that knife, anyway.

What it takes

Regularly achieving RDH requires the right mindset, which is a combination of optimism, curiosity, and humility.

Look for the good, not the best

Pessimistic people rarely achieve RDH, because they have difficulty seeing the good qualities of circumstances which are outside of their control. These people work overtime to find the best school for their children, shop for the best deal on a vacation package, or negotiate too hard for the best terms with service providers. They place a great deal of emphasis on external valuation markers, and are less confident in their own judgment of value.

Optimistic people have an easier time reaching RDH because they come to each situation expecting a good outcome. This openheartedness allows them to evaluate the benefits of what is there before them using their own judgment of value, which is more in tune with their own needs. Without needing to find the objective best, they often discover the subjective good.

Curiosity and testing

When you think you know what you are looking for, you quickly narrow your search. This is useful and pragmatic, given that we are usually drowning in an ocean of too many options. Before you set your guidelines in stone, however, give yourself a moment to look around at how the landscape is divided. There may be more factors at play than you realize, and unforeseen variables can often have more impact than those you anticipated in the beginning of your search.

By staying curious, you take notice of why other people make the choices they make, or judge their outcomes the way they do. You observe and then reflect, “does this apply to me?” You are willing to test new options, keeping your mind open and considering, “will I like this?” Discovery happens as an outgrowth of the process, but is not a guaranteed outcome.

By staying curious, you take notice of why other people make the choices they make, or judge their outcomes the way they do.

Recognize chance as a driving force

Ego tends to push us to believe we are more in control of our circumstances than we really are. When we find a successful match, or win a coveted position, we want to attribute it to our own prowess. Likewise, we may look down on ourselves or others who are suffering with poor outcomes, assuming that there must have been a flaw in the execution.

Random chances are more likely to be at play than we realize. Most of the time, our search for the best simply can’t include and control for every variable because we are human and information systems are incomplete.

The Bliss of RDH

The joy of achieving RDH is understanding that sometimes when we try to make the best of our circumstances, they may really turn out to be the best outcomes we could have hoped for.