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Lucky People

Right before the new year, Atlas Obscura had a post about the luckiest people of 2017.  It’s sort of a strange idea.  I mean, yes, I knew that the list would include people who had things work out for them in some amazing way, but it’s the idea of describing a person based on a moment in time.

We describe people as smart, which means that we think they are always intelligent albeit human and therefore capable of making bone-headed decisions every once in a while.  We describe people as pretty, and we don’t mean that they’re pretty on Monday but ugly on Tuesday.  We mean that we think they are attractive every day of the year.

But luck is a single moment.  Actions can certainly be lucky, but can people be lucky?  I mean, if that’s the case, take one of the people in the article.  If a tree fell on their house tomorrow, would they now be unlucky?  Could they be lucky on a Monday but unlucky on a Tuesday and then lucky again on Wednesday?  That is a slippery adjective.

It also feels judgmental when applied to a person vs a situation.  It designates some lives as unlucky in order to define the contrast of lucky.

Is this making sense?  Can people be lucky?


1 a { 01.09.18 at 7:26 am }

My husband certainly thinks so, and from his perspective…I would probably think the same way. He’s a hard worker who has had to pretty much beat his head against every wall out there. His brother has drifted through life with very few obstacles, and yet is probably financially equivalent and socially better off. (My husband accuses me of being similar – and I am, in some ways. But mostly, if things turn out differently than I wanted or intended, I’m better at moving on and not dwelling on it. And I’m good at saying “I gave it a shot. It didn’t work out. Never doing that again.” whereas he wants to conquer the problem and win.)

If you’ve ever seen the movie A Bronx Tale, they have a character who sums up unlucky. His name is Mush. My husband always says he’s Mush.

2 Cristy { 01.09.18 at 12:12 pm }

Hmm, that’s a good question. I think some people are better at being able to ride through unpleasant situations, finding their way out of a mess and moving on to better opportunities. Others (like me) tend to hold on to what they’ve invested themselves into. There’s pros and cons to both types (the first can be seen as being more flighty and less trustworthy or committed), but in situations where there is rapid transition, I think the first type of person tends to excel. Hence is lucky.

What’s been hardest for me to letting go of what I invested myself into. The ideal I had in my head.

3 Sharon { 01.09.18 at 3:42 pm }

I do think some people are luckier than others. . . although I am open to the idea that what I attribute to luck may have other root causes. We all know someone for whom things always seem to work out/go smoothly, and conversely, we all no people who seem to have bad things happen to them more often than the norm, seemingly through no fault of their own.

4 Mali { 01.09.18 at 8:10 pm }

Luck isn’t something that is separate from pretty or intelligent or healthy. To be born intelligent is lucky. To be born attractive is lucky. To be born both is lucky. Yes, intelligent and attractive people might be unlucky, but they still started the game way ahead of many people. It might be a different kind of luck from the people who get hit by a tree, but it’s both more consistent and pervasive.

So , absolutely, I think people can be lucky. I know I was lucky to be born a woman in New Zealand at the time I was born, to the parents I was born to, with a brain and a body that worked. I was born with a personality that has both helped and hindered me both professionally and socially, which is way better than being born and raised with a personality that works against my best wishes. Weren’t you lucky to be born in the US, to your parents, and with your personality, intellect and abilities?

The last 20 years, I’ve been feeling much less lucky – trouble finding work, ectopics/infertility/childlessness, an accident that ruined a knee, hysterectomy, a faceplant in Iceland, and a chronic pain condition – but I still know that in the overall scheme of things, I’m very very lucky.

Ultimately, perhaps luck comes down to attitude? I remember hearing of people who won the lottery. One person won, but had to share with one or two other winners as well, and he considered himself unlucky because of that, though the rest of the world would consider him very lucky.

5 Lori Lavender Luz { 01.12.18 at 11:35 am }

I grapple with the randomness of luck. Just how random is it? Is there anything you can do to make yourself more lucky? Like, say, positive thinking? Well-calculated risk-taking? Something else?

I agree with you about it being a slippery adjective for the reasons you state.

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