Luck Be A Lady…

"Luck" is a term often thrown around to explain away a good or bad event. But perhaps being "lucky" has nothing to do with luck.

Everyone knows what luck is. Or do we? Typically luck manifests as an event which is unexpected and uncontrolled. We call the results of that event “good luck” or “bad luck” depending upon our perception that it works to our advantage or disadvantage. A blessing or an attack, you might say.

Attitude is everything in life, medicine, and money matters, and our perception of luck is no different.

“The harder I work, the luckier I get” is a common claim that resonates with most of our life experiences. Those with a tilt toward good luck seem to have a bias toward action; more chances mean more possibility of good results. Often passive, inactive folks turn to “down on my luck” to explain their failure to have goals or to achieve them.

Another characteristic of the role of luck in our lives is how thrilled we are when such a positive event occurs, yet how empty we might feel after the dust has settled. Even fearful that the universe might try to balance itself with an equal portion of so-called bad luck.

When one of my golfing buddies sinks a putt, we congratulate him. But he inevitably attributes the result to luck, even though he was intent upon making that putt and brought all of his focus and skill to bear. Why tempt fate?

Traditional societies call this feared lack of control some version of the “evil eye” and often wear some form of amulet to ward off this foul notion. I was told that in my family generations ago the birth of a child warranted a red cloth be tied to the bedstead for that very purpose.

How many times have we read that lottery winners often end up in penury? They might say that their fate was balancing, off-setting “bad luck,” while we might say that they were unprepared emotionally and had inadequate financial literacy to cope. “Luck favors the prepared mind,” don’t you know.

How is it that many people might pass a spot and not see the diamond in the dust, while another does see it? Such a person apparently was observant, open to the world, awaiting opportunity. Is this another characteristic of the “lucky” person?

I remember a Walt Disney comic book in my youth where Gladstone Gander, “the luckiest duck in the world,” was about to be evicted by the sheriff for non-payment of rent. When Gladstone went out to the curb to talk to the sheriff, he noticed something in the gutter, bent over, picked up a diamond ring lying there, placed it in the sheriff’s hand and walked back into his now paid-up house. Luck, or observant opportunism?

Along with attitude, timing is critical in assessing whether or not an unforeseen occurrence is perceived as good or bad luck. Tripping and falling is usually seen as bad luck, but if it happens just before you might unknowingly tumble off a blind cliff, it might change your view of your small fall from bad luck to good luck.

There is an old saw that says “If you ever have a choice between lucky and rich, or smart etc., choose lucky.” Well, by definition, lucky implies a positive outcome, while smart and/or rich implies only an advantage in attempting a given outcome. Still….