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Are You a Lucky Person?

Whether you believe you are lucky or not may depend on your personality.

Key points

  • Seeing yourself as lucky is associated with greater happiness.
  • Having been lucky in the past will not make you a lucky person in the future.
  • A certain amount of luck is necessary in life. No amount of hard work and talent will compensate for its absence.

Fortuna, the Roman goddess of luck, is often depicted blindfolded and steering a ship. She is steering our lives, and she is doing so blindly.

Luck is a crucial component in our lives. Being born on either the right or the wrong side of the tracks, carrying these or the other genes in our chromosomes, or indeed taking this or the other turn on a seemingly unimportant day, will determine our future. Not everyone agrees: “When it comes to luck, you make your own,” said Bruce Springsteen. True to some extent, and yet I strongly suspect that there are countless hardworking potential rock stars out there whose talent remains undiscovered because they have never been in the right place at the right time. A creative gift and hard work play crucial parts in any success story, but sheer luck is equally critical.

Assessing Luck

Having accepted that there is such a thing as luck, there are two ways of assessing how lucky one is as a person. The first one is to consider how much luck one has had in life up to the present point. I, for instance, consider myself pretty lucky. I don’t delude myself into thinking that the good stuff I see in my life would have happened regardless of luck.

To give an example, I was fortunate enough to find my life companion in a strange city in a foreign country, and it happened by chance. I had landed in that city after applying for the first job I saw advertised in a medical publication that week. I became the trainee doctor in a ward where she worked as a nurse. A different ad on a different magazine, or on a different week, would have taken me to an undoubtedly worse destiny. At the same time, there have been instances in my biography in which I was spectacularly unlucky, but they are too painful to recall.

All of us have been both lucky and unlucky at different times, but I have no doubt that general “luckiness” in life could be represented by a normal distribution graph, in which the bulk of us would be found around the middle, blessed with a more or less average amount of luck.

Rafa Euba
Are you a lucky person?
Source: Rafa Euba

A second way of assessing luck is the belief in “trait” luckiness; in other words, good luck as a personal attribute that not only has influenced events in one’s past, but that will also continue to determine events in one’s future. People who believe in luck as a general factor in life and those who believe that they are personally lucky tend to have very different personalities. Essentially, the former tend to be more neurotic and less happy than the latter. It is a good thing therefore to believe on one’s luckiness, but it is also absurd, as the following example illustrates.

Future Luck is Unrelated to Past Luck

Random is capricious and continues to operate randomly, whatever may have happened up to a given point. A roulette player may think that after five consecutive reds, the next spin must surely fall on black, following what has been named the “Monte Carlo Fallacy.” Of course, the odds for black will remain precisely 50 percent in every single spin, however many consecutive times the ball has landed either on red or on black. On August 18, 1913, the ball fell on black 26 successive times at the Monte Carlo Casino (hence the name of the fallacy). The odds of this happening were ridiculously low, so perhaps not surprisingly, gamblers in the casino bet heavily against the ball landing on black during this streak, some losing fortunes in the process.

I would argue that seeing yourself as a lucky person is itself lucky, as feeling confident that you will land on your feet whatever life throws at you must be very comforting. “Luck is believing you're lucky,” said Tennessee Williams. I, like many others, prefer to stay on the good side of Fortuna and not tempt luck too much, lest I displease her.

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