Recognizing Good Fortune

Today is known as Blue Monday. This is apparently as it is roughly two weeks out of the festive season but still two weeks until the end of January. For me, I’m still catching up with people who I didn’t see during the winter celebrations, which is fun and has been full of surprises. Most importantly, it’s brought home to me the illusions that social media generates; that other people are carefree and enjoying life to the full when the reality is far from it. I’ve been reminded that you never really know whats going on in other people’s heads and hearts. Especially when the gaps of geography and lifestyle become more pronounced as your paths differ, you feel some people have been lucky, and others not so lucky.

In a short book on life planning called Get Lucky Now, Dr Stephen Simpson explains a logical approach to generating more luck in your life. This book is essentially a self-help book which focuses on the nebulous force of ‘luck’. My main dislike is the tagline which is ‘The 7 secrets of lucky people’ as if you can just open the book, learn seven things and hey presto, you’ll be lucky. It was not all bad though – I didn’t agree with the relevance of all of the material covered but I did take away some handy hints.

Reflections

At the start of last year, I jotted these hints down in a Moleskine notebook which I lost and then found months later used for an entirely different purpose by my wife. The thing is, I didn’t consciously take any of the advice and apply it to my day-to-day existence but I had a pretty lucky year. Maybe to some people, it would seem standard, like just another year. To me, it seems well rounded; I picked up healthy eating habits, flirted with exercise routines, started meditating and socialised as much as I could with old and new friends. I overspent on my personal interests but on reflection, I realise it was a safe, secure, sometimes exciting and well balanced year.

Dr Simpson would definitely ascribe to the belief that one makes his or her own luck in the world. Despite its shortcomings that book of his is a great introduction to various fields of thought and practice which when pursued may make you luckier. However, I think there is an overlapping consensus among these various areas that luck is a combination of circumstantial happenings and one’s reactions to them. The thing with luck is that you could get lucky once, or twice, but to sustain good fortune, you need to work hard at something. Working hard at pursuits is what makes them worthwhile and having something worthwhile to pursue is what makes life worth living.

The Way

This year was also the year I started reading translations of ancient Chinese philosophy and I have been predominantly interested in Taoist ideas. The Tao is literally the ‘path’ or ‘way’ and for me studying Taoist principles is like having a malleable approach to spirituality. One of the precepts of Taoism is to do away with an anthropomorphic God and instead posit God as a sort of all-pervading energy which is active in all things. One translator comments on the Tao idea of oneness – that our minds are simply God’s mirror, reflecting the here-now of creation.

I love the idea that all of the forces we observe are combined rather than distinct; that dualities and distinctions exist only in our minds. Moreover, that the fabric of space and time is part of us and that there is no separation between the end of our nerves at the skin’s surface and the environment which we sense around us. As we draw breath, we are drawing in a part of the material universe and as we exhale we are contributing to it. Science and biology have long ago separated us from nature as we conceive of ourselves and feel like we make choices.  We can choose to believe that we are part of something bigger, which generates acceptance and in the right circumstances, awe. What is luck here but part of an ever-unfolding pattern?

Soft Power

Rather than lucky, I feel grateful. I feel grateful for the opportunities that I have had and missed, grateful for those I’ve taken. I feel proud to have gotten so far in life, even if someone else’s measure would put me behind. I am happy to have got to the end of another year and been able to call it well rounded. I am blessed to be married to someone as lovingly controlling as my wife. She cares, and that’s important. It keeps me on the straight and narrow and I honestly don’t know where I would be without her.

When you express gratitude you realise that you have been lucky, you have something to be thankful for. Overall, I think that acceptance and gratitude are powerful forces. When combined with a good work ethic they can bring more luck into people’s lives than any of the so-called secrets of lucky people.