Monday, July 29, 2013
Being lucky is a state of mind
A few times a year we have a raffle at work, whether a fundraiser or a "team-building" incentive. At the sign-up table, a colleague and I were filling out the ticket stub for the latest raffle when we both spoke up at the same time. She said, "I'm not a lucky person ... I never win anything." At the exact same time I said, "I am a really lucky person — and I just might win that grand prize."
Later, I thought about that encounter and our relative perspectives. She has a beautiful, young family and supportive and caring parents that live nearby. She has a good job, lots of friends, and enjoys good health. Certainly a lucky person by my definition.
On the other hand, I also have a supportive husband. My two grown children and grandson live thousands of miles away. I have a good job and still enjoy good health, even though I am more than 25 years older than my colleague. Yet I self-identify as a lucky person and she doesn't.
Christine Carter, PhD, is a sociologist at University of California at Berkeley. She reports research shows that people who believe themselves to be lucky are far more satisfied with their lives than people who think of themselves as unlucky.
Lucky people are happier with their family life, their personal life, their financial situation, their health and their career. How lucky we feel is connected to how much gratitude we have, as well as to our confidence and optimism — incredibly important positive emotions. Luck is hugely related not just to our success, but to our happiness. In fact, the word happy originally meant lucky — hap meant "chance" or "fortune."
Well, you guessed it, my colleague won the grand prize and I didn't win any of the prizes. I still think I am generally a very lucky person, and she thought it was a "fluke" that she won. It's all a matter of perspective.
Alice Facente is a community education nurse for the Backus Health System. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at firstname.lastname@example.org.