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What is Luck? And How Can We Use It?

Stephanie Kirby

Luck is a little four-letter word that holds a lot of weight in the world. While we like to throw the word around, we struggle to know what it is. What do we truly believe about it?

So, what is luck really? Does it exist and how does it affect your lives?

We tie luck to all kinds of ideas, beliefs, and superstitions:

  • Breaking a mirror will bring you bad luck for seven years
  • Beginners’ luck
  • The #13 is unlucky
  • Find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck
  • A black cat is bad luck but a rabbit’s foot brings you good luck
  • Opening an umbrella indoors is bad luck

We also credit the success of others, or lack of, to being lucky or unlucky.

What is Luck?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines luck as “a force that brings good fortune or adversity” as well as “to prosper or succeed, especially through chance or good fortune.”

Luck is nothing more than a way to explain away random things that happen in life that we have no control over. It’s difficult for our minds to not have the answer to a question, so luck fills the gap for us.

For example, a wildfire comes through an area and burns every house but one. We may view the one homeowner as lucky. We have no real understanding of why their house wasn’t destroyed like the others.

Or imagine if the shopper in front of you at a store wins a gift certificate for being the 100th shopper of the day. Are they lucky? Are you unlucky? We can’t explain exactly why it happened how it did, so we credit it to luck.

With that in mind, it’s safe to say that luck involves chance. It’s something that is unlikely to happen, can’t be expected, and has no concrete explanation.

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Where does luck come from?

If you believe the superstitions, then you might credit your luck to many rituals or events that have happened in your life. You broke that mirror when you were a teenager and then got rejected from the college you wanted to attend, even though you thought you were in for sure. Or you picked a penny up at the start of the day before you won the free drink at the coffee shop.

But there’s also a lot to be said about the idea that luck can come from your mindset. If you’re afraid that you have bad luck because you broke a mirror, you’re going to look for the bad things that are happening to you.

If you think that you have good luck for a certain reason, you’ll look for how it’s showing up in your life as well. Those same things may have happened to you regardless, but you’re not sure why, so you attach “luck” to it.

Luck may also come from actions that you’re not aware of. For example, a student may appear lucky to attend a school where they receive an outstanding education that sets them up well for life. Is that luck?

Or is it possible that their parent worked hard and did the research to get their child into an excellent system to give them a better opportunity? What looks like luck for the student might actually directly result from purposeful action taken by the parent.

How does luck affect your life?

Luck can make us feel better about our own situations. Sometimes we use luck to comfort ourselves when we see someone achieving success that we would like to have in life. They have the dream house, a great relationship, a perfect job, and the fun toys to go with it.

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It can be a lot easier to believe that they were just lucky in life instead of believing that they’re really just working harder in those areas to make it happen.

When we believe that we’re just unlucky, it makes life easier in a way. We don’t have to accept responsibility for our current life situation. If we choose to believe that others are in a better position than us because they worked hard for it, we have to admit that we’re largely to blame for where we are in life.

If you choose to let luck dictate the direction of your life, you’ll be leaving your success or failure up to complete chance instead of taking the action that you can to play an active role in your life.

What role do you play in your own “luck”?

Are you able to increase the good luck that you experience in life? Or are you stuck with whatever comes your way?

If you believe that luck is simply random, uncontrolled things that happen in your life, then it’s easy to think that there is nothing you can do about it. And while that may be the case for some things in life, there are ways we can work to improve our chances of being on the receiving end of fortunate events and situations.

Are you lucky to win the lottery? Really, just by purchasing the ticket, you gave yourself a chance. So, while you may feel “lucky” if you win big, it wasn’t a random event that happened to you. Now, if a stranger just decides to give you a million dollars for no reason at all, then you could probably chalk it up to luck.

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There are many ways that you can play an active role in achieving goals in life that might make others think you’re lucky. Some common examples include:

  • Practicing harder than others at a sport leads you to earn that athletic scholarship to a Division I school.
  • Studying hard and building a strong network while in college leads to landing your dream job upon graduation.
  • Starting a business and working long hours when others are off having fun leads to you having a thriving business and people thinking you’re an overnight success.

While it’s impossible for you to have complete control of what happens in your life, you can play a bigger role in it than you might realize.

So, what’s the bottom line when it comes to luck?

It all boils down to the fact that you control your own luck in many ways. Your mindset and beliefs lead you to take action (or not take action) which results in positive or negative situations.

However, there are some things that appear to be random in life. It might be a “right time, right place” situation or it might just be luck.

But if true luck really is something that you have no control over because it’s based purely on chance, then it’s really in your best interest not to spend too much time focusing on it.

Instead, work on developing positive thinking and a growth mindset. This can help you create your own luck by putting yourself into better situations where fortunate things are more likely to happen to you. Why believe that the success of your life is left up to random events that occur instead of taking action to direct the path you want your life to be on?

Go out and create your own luck!

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