What’s the deal with luck?

by | Feb 11, 2023 | Trend

Is it cold where you are? I have cold weather on my mind…I recently experienced some incredibly cold temps on a very impromptu yet wonderful vacation in the Swiss Alps! Thank goodness for all those layers 😂.

As I was traveling in the freezing temperatures, I kept thinking about how lucky I was to be able to visit Switzerland, even in such unideal weather.

Which leads me to today’s topic: what’s the deal with luck and how much control do we have over it?

A Story about Luck

In Switzerland, I booked a partially guided tour to Mount Rigi and Lucerne.

The morning of the trip, we received a paper copy of the day’s itinerary and the corresponding times we needed to be at each location to catch the bus, train, and boat rides.

At the bottom of the itinerary, it noted that we were expected to arrive on time as the bus would not be waiting for latecomers!

I made it through the beautiful, wintry day without a hitch…That is, until, I needed to find the bus to take me back. Now, I’m a very reliable and prompt individual with great time management and planning skills. But when it comes to my sense of direction…Let’s just say it isn’t quite like a Swiss watch.

I couldn’t find the pickup spot.

To be fair, even when I asked the locals for directions to the meeting point, they weren’t too sure either. It was getting closer and closer to the pickup time and I still wasn’t sure where we were supposed to meet. Finally, I thought I had found the spot, but the bus wasn’t there yet, so I started to worry a little. I really didn’t want to miss this bus and be stuck there!

Then, I paused. I realized that if I missed the bus, the worst thing that happened is that I’d just have to find another way back to my hotel. It would be inconvenient and potentially more expensive, but it would be doable. I shifted my mindset and calmed myself down.

And just as I did, I saw a few folks from the tour walking in my direction, smiling at me in recognition. They had also struggled to find the meeting point. It was nice to have some company now as we joked about walking back to Zurich by foot or camping out in an igloo for the night.

Finally, we saw the bus rounding the corner. It had been running a little late. (Obviously).

A few minutes later, I was seated comfortably on the bus, feeling lucky that I kept my cool when I thought I was “lost” and was able to catch the bus! As the warmth of the coach enveloped me, I was relieved and grateful to be on my way back.

The four types of luck

But here’s the thing: was I actually lucky I kept my cool? Was I lucky I didn’t miss the bus?

To answer that, let’s look at a concept developed by Dr. James Austin, who believes there are four types of luck: blind luck, luck from motion, luck from awareness, and luck from uniqueness.

I liked his concepts of luck, but decided to rename them in a way that makes more sense to me. As I studied these types of luck, I found that my experience in Switzerland was due to a mix of all four of these types of luck. They are as follows:

  1. Random luck: Luck that stems from things out of your control, like where you were born or who your parents are. (My parents loved to travel and always found ways to save and take vacations. They may have passed that passion on to me.)
  2. Action-driven luck: Luck that you create when you hustle and focus your energy on something meaningful. (I wouldn’t have ended up in Switzerland let alone on a tour if I didn’t take actions to get there! My determination and the steps I took to find the bus by asking for directions or checking Google Maps helped me get lucky in not missing the bus.)
  3. Experiential luck: Knowledge and experience that makes you more aware and prepares you to observe opportunities in front of you. (This wasn’t the first time I had to deal with uncertainty and stress in a foreign country, nor with cold weather. My experience guided my ability to shift my mindset and pay attention to my surroundings. It also helped me make sure that I had the proper layers to prevent me from returning to the Southern California as a popsicle. I was successful and did, in fact, return as a normal-temperature human.)
  4. Unique luck: Luck that seeks you out based on your hobbies, lifestyle, or behavior. (I’m a friendly person who often strikes up conversations with strangers. This is why the fellow tourists I’d met earlier on the bus recognized me and kept me company while we waited.)

Next steps for happier beings

  1. Take an active approach to life. The most important thing to remember is the “doing.” No one, not even the most randomly lucky among us, can live a happy and fulfilled life without attempting to do meaningful things with their life.
  2. When you’re experiencing a low, change your mindset. Happier beings aren’t happy because they never experience setbacks. They’re happy because they have learned how to quickly change their mindset about a negative situation.
  3. Don’t rely on things outside of your control. Find the things you can control, and take action to the best of your ability. Hoping you’ll get lucky is not the same as influencing your own luck.
  4. Capture your experiences. Whether you write down your travel stories or keep photo albums, it’s important to capture your memories in a place you can refer back to. We tend to forget easily, but remembering can help us both celebrate the good and effectively face future challenges.

Ready to seize the day? I hope so!

Dr. Tal


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