Feeling Lucky?

Jessica Imbimbo, Assistant Editor

“Luck” was a term that first appeared in English during the 1400s and was used as a gambling term to describe an event that is improbable, whether good or bad.  Today, luck can be understood in two different ways: prescriptively or descriptively.

In the prescriptive sense, people either do or do not believe in the concept of luck.  It is something deterministic or supernatural.  In the descriptive sense, people use luck to describe improbable events after the fact.  Simply, when something unlikely happens, we call the occurrence lucky or unlucky.

The way I see it, luck is a way to explain things that one wouldn’t be able to explain otherwise. When something happens in our lives, whether good or bad, we as humans seek out ways to explain why.  Finding $20 on the street is something many would consider to be lucky, but the person who lost that same $20 bill earlier that day wasn’t so lucky.  Why did that person find the $20? Was it some higher power that forced the “lucky” one to look down at the sidewalk at that very moment?  Or was it just the hole in the “unlucky” one’s pocket that led to the “lucky” one’s so-called luck in the first place?

I think that luck is also something that can change at any moment.  For example, let’s say you get a flat tire while driving down a deserted highway and you’re out of cell phone range.  Now if you’re mechanically handicapped like me, you need someone to help you change your tire.  You flag down the next car you see, in which your future husband/wife happens to be driving.  Now that flat tire doesn’t seem so unlucky after all.

Explaining the unexplainable; that is our goal when we use the concept of luck.  I think that everything happens for a reason, just like the flat tire example: what seemed like a huge misfortune in one moment turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  I can’t lie, I have picked up my fair share of heads-up pennies in my lifetime, but overall I think luck is something we create on our own.  When you acknowledge the luck you have and start looking for more, you create a certain frame of mind – one that helps you take advantage of opportunities you might not recognize otherwise. Noticing how lucky you are, even in small ways, makes the possibility of good luck more tangible than before.