“Never tell me the odds.”

― Han Solo,The Empire Strikes Back

Probability can seem weird and counterintuitive at times.

For instance, what’s the probability that a fair coin flipped 10 times will land on heads exactly once? Well, that’s simple enough. It’s 10 in 1024 or about 0.977%.

But what are the odds that the first 9 flips are tails and only the last flip comes up heads? Okay, that’s also simple. It’s 1 in 1024 or about 0.0977% — 10 times less likely than our first probability.

Now, let’s get crazy. What are the chances that each flip alternates between heads and tails, starting with heads? It’s 1 in 1024 or about 0.0977%. That’s right, it’s the same as the one above. Why? Because when there are 1024 possible patterns, the odds of any specific pattern is 1 in 1024.

Now here’s the interesting part. If you flipped a coin 10 times, whatever pattern you saw had a probability of 1 in 1024. So even though that specific pattern was unlikely, it was just as likely as any other specific pattern.

How does this bit of high school math help us?

It gives me a sense of appreciation for everything that happens around me. Everything I experience is a rare and precious gift. Every challenge is a special opportunity to drive a positive outcome. I have an immense sense of humility and gratitude for the blessings I’ve received.

Our lives are more than the sum of random outcomes, but we can find meaning and beauty in all the seemingly random events that occur.