Running into an old crush. Thinking about a friend and getting a text from them 30 seconds later. Receiving an unexpected check in the mail (that’s the exact amount needed to cover an overdue bill). We like to call these lovely experiences Good Universe Moments (GUMs, for short), and we’ve all had them, whether or not we took a moment to acknowledge how magical they are. To help you notice and interpret these moments, we’ve put together a list of eight common GUMs, along with their possible meanings and how to handle them. Click through to get the scoop!
- 1. Running into an old crush
- 2. Finding money on the street or in the pocket of your old jeans
- 3. Finding your dream pair of shoes on sale –and yours is the last size left
- 4. When a stranger gives you just the compliment you need to hear
- 5. When a new job or apartment falls into your lap
- 6. Running into someone you know while on vacation
- 7. Getting a random email or phone call from someone you were just thinking about
- 8: Unexpected recognition or praise at work
1. Running into an old crush
Scenario: You’re sitting on a the subway on the way home from work when across the car you see a guy and think Holy shit, that’s Brad, the guy who I wanted to make out with all freshman year of college. You literally haven’t seen Brad in nine years. You barely even remember his name, but there he is on your subway car in spitting distance.
How To Handle It: There’s only two ways to play this one; either you approach Brad and strike up a convo (at the risk of him not remembering you at all), or you let Brad get off at Times Square and wonder What If? forever. Personally, we prefer the former, but even if you choose the latter, this is still a GUM.
What It Might Mean: Life is not a rom com. as you’ve probably figured out by now. While there may be the slightest chance that you and Brad are going to fall madly in love, there’s a better chance that you were just supposed to run into Brad. Either because he is a point of access to a time in your life or a part of yourself you’ve forgotten, or because he’s going to lead you to some important information in your life now.
2. Finding money on the street or in the pocket of your old jeans
Scenario: (Please note: This really happened to Ami when she was a poor, starving college student.) You’re sitting down to have lunch at a deli and you and you see an unmarked envelope on your seat. You go to brush it off and discover that there’s cash in the envelope. Upon closer scrutiny, you discover that there’s A LOT of cash in the envelope. There’s $1,300 to be precise.
How To Handle It: This depends entirely on your code of ethics. You can: A) Wait and see if the owner comes back frantically looking for the money and if not, slip it in your pocket and quit your shitty job at the nightclub so you can focus on college, but first take the rest of the day off and buy yourself an expensive dinner B) Take the cash and turn it into the deli cashier, who will no doubt pocket it himself, or C) Go to the police. (Ami chose A … feel free to judge her.)
What It Might Mean: For me, it meant that the universe was supporting me in quitting my shitty job, which was a very bad environment for me to be in. In the case that you find a $5 crumpled in your pocket or walking down the street, it may be as simple as a reminder to treat yourself better, even if it’s just for a coffee break.
3. Finding your dream pair of shoes on sale –and yours is the last size left
The Scenario: While scanning the clearance rack at TJ Maxx, you notice the most fabulous pair of red pumps you’ve ever seen. There’s only one pair left. They’re marked down 75 percent. Trying not to get your hopes up too much, you cautiously turn them over to look at the tag. Sure enough, they’re in your size.
How To Handle It: Buy the shoes, obviously. The universe wants you to have these shoes.
What It Might Mean: You’ve been feeling lost in the crowd and needed a boost of reassurance, something to make you feel special. Sure, cheap shoes might seem like a trivial thing, but it’s actually a reminder that some things in this big, crazy, crowded world are just for you. Take a moment to be thankful for the unique gifts and opportunities you’ve been given, and the ones that are still to come!
4. When a stranger gives you just the compliment you need to hear
Scenario: You’re having a really off day. You’re late to work because your toilet overflowed, you got into a nasty fight with your SO, your high heel broke and you had to go back home and change, and on top of it all, you’re having a really shitty hair day. You stop for a bagel and the server says, “You have such a great smile.”
How To Handle It: Stop. Take a deep breath. And let it soak all the way into your soul.
What It Might Mean: It means you need to reboot your day. A ray of positivity on an otherwise bleak day is a gentle reminder that you are in control of how your day goes. It all depends on what you choose to focus on. This GUM is a glaring reminder to focus on the positive.
5. When a new job or apartment falls into your lap
The Scenario: You just moved to a new city without a real plan of action. You’re crashing on a friend’s couch and trying not to freak out about the fact that you’re technically homeless. Just when you’re convinced you’ll never find a place of your own, the barista at your local coffee shop mentions that there’s a vacancy in her building, which turns out to be a gorgeous studio $100 below your budget.
How To Handle It: It’s easy to get cynical when you’re feeling desperate, but don’t ever ignore little nudges like this, even if it seems too good to be true. Once you sign the lease, you’ll realize the long wait was worth it.
What It Might Mean: Some of the best and most amazing GUMs occur when we make difficult decisions or commit ourselves to a major life change. These situations involve a ton of uncertainty and second-guessing, but along the way, the universe rewards you for your courage, and slowly, your new path becomes clearer and brighter. That awesome apartment or random new job is a sign that you’re on the right track. Keep pushing forward, even if you’re not sure where this road will lead you. Everything is going to be OK.
6. Running into someone you know while on vacation
Scenario: (Please note: This also happened to Ami while she was in Paris this past year.) You hop onto a bus in Saint Dennis on your way to the Shakespeare & Co Bookstore, when in the sea of foreign faces you see a former intern from your current job. She lives in Paris now! The next day, you are walking up a hill toward the Lapin Agile when you see, coming down the hill, your former boss at the last company you worked at. He is visiting too!
How To Handle It: If you saw these people in the city you lived in, it would be perfectly acceptable to avoid running into them if you wanted to. But if you are in a foreign country, you are 100 percent obligated to stop and chat.
What It Might Mean: I feel pretty certain that it was an opportunity for me to see how far I’d come since working at my last job. It was also affirmation that I was doing the right thing with my life, career wise. But depending on how you know the person, that might point you in the direction of the area to focus on. Because the GUM of running into someone in a foreign country is way more than a coincidence.
7. Getting a random email or phone call from someone you were just thinking about
The Scenario: While waiting in line for your lunch, you randomly start wondering whatever happened to your old friend Jamie. You two got close while studying abroad in Prague, but have since lost touch. The next day, completely out of the blue, Jamie messages you on Facebook.
How To Handle It: Write back and tell your friend you were just thinking about them. See where this new conversation–and renewed connection–takes you.
What It Might Mean: There was obviously some reason you and this person were feeling connected at the same moment in time. Sometimes a dose of nostalgia in itself can be a source of comfort, and sometimes we’re meant to reconnect with people for other reasons. Be open to whatever thoughts, feelings, and ideas come up in the course of this new conversation–you never know what random bits of inspiration you’ll find, and hey, it might be exactly what you needed.
8: Unexpected recognition or praise at work
The Scenario: You’ve been feeling worthless and unappreciated at your job, and wondering if anyone even notices you’re there day after day. When your manager calls you into her office unexpectedly, you’re sure you’re getting fired. Instead, she tells you how much your work is appreciated, and asks you to head up an awesome new project.
How To Handle It: Respond with sincerity and gratitude, and try to push all cynicism out of your mind–life’s too short to always be wondering about ulterior motives. If you get a chance, try to get some specifics about what you’re doing right, so you can do more of it.
What It Might Mean: We all need some reassurance sometimes, and as nice as it is to get it from an outside source, it’s much more important to build up your inner confidence. Soak up the compliments from your boss, but also take it as a reminder that it’s easy to get carried away with negative thoughts about our own worth, and reality rarely matches the worst case scenarios we’ve dreamed up in our heads. It’s time to start giving yourself the pats on the back you crave from others. You deserve it.