Are You Feeling Lucky?

Well are you?  Because if not, that may be the problem….

While channel surfing a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the classic early scene from “Dirty Harry” where he shoots up a gang fleeing a robbery.  One of the bad guys is only wounded and Harry walks up to him.  The bad guy’s weapon is within reach and they both look at it.

Harry says: “I know what you’re thinking. Was it five or six shots he fired?  I lost track myself.  The question you have to ask yourself is: do I feel l lucky?  Because if you’re wrong, I’m going to blow your head off.”

After a few long seconds of thought, the bad guy moves his hand away from the weapon and Harry takes it.  As Harry walks away, the bad guy implores: “I have to know.”  Harry walks back to him and, as the bad guy’s eyes widen in fear, points the Magnum at his face, and pulls the trigger.  Click.  The bad guy slumps in relief while Harry smiles.

Some 35 years after that movie was released, research suggests that whether or not you feel lucky is in fact an important factor in whether positive things happen to you.  Folks who are optimistic about life often make their own luck,  allowing good things to happen.  Things which a causal observer might ascribe to “luck.”

One interesting example of this was a test where participants were asked what a “website” address of a few words strung together and flashed to them for a few seconds said.  The words could be read in either a positive or negative context.  Optimists “saw” the positive version while pessimists “saw” the negative version.

Now 40 years ago in high school, I’d have said that there are some folks who are “lucky” and others who just aren’t.  And to an extent, I saw myself in that latter group.  But by the time I graduated college, I was convinced, based on personal experience, that in many ways we make, or don’t make, our own luck. (That’s the long promised “power of one” post I continue to struggle to complete.)

Recently, I wrote about how I met my wife.  I mentioned how easy it would have been not to ask her out since we had no similarities in background, education or career that I believed then are important elements to a successful relationship.  Instead, I was willing to challenge those assumptions and I’m thankful I did.

So when friends say how “lucky” I am to be with Susie, they are right but not in the way they think.  Because while meeting her was chance, everything that happened after that was because I made my own luck to allow the relationship to develop.  If I had been a “pessimist” then I’d not even have taken the first step because I’d have already decided there was no way it could work given our “differences.”

That perspective applies to so may other aspects of life.  Why do some folks stay in a job they don’t like?  Or in an unhappy relationship?  I think that in many cases it’s because they’ve learned to cope with their situations.

And coping is so much easier than facing the fear of the unknown.  The fear of whether you could be successful in a new job or in a new relationship.  The fear you’re not going to be “lucky” because you haven’t been lucky.  Some folks are convinced their past will be their future.  They are prisoners of their past.

That attitude of hopelessness goes back to a theme in another recent post: those folks have surrendered.  And recall how I ended that post: never surrender!

So go out there and make your own good luck!

Here’s the Newsweek article about “luck.” The part I’m referring to is towards the end, after the  “who survives” part.


14 responses to “Are You Feeling Lucky?

  1. Anarchist, in typical Hollywood dialect, the bad guy said “Ise gots to know!” How did that slave dialect make its way to San Francisco? Anyway, as soon as I get this cast off of my leg, I plan on going out there and getting some good luck.

  2. Yes he did; I “edited” that… lol!

  3. I agree with your assessment of luck. I believe there are signs for all of us and as we develop our self awareness and intuitive cognition we make our own luck (as long as the playing field is kinda/sorta equal). Also we must guard against too much trust in others, because many never understand they can read their own signs. And walk blindly through life thinking they have no luck at all.

    But then there are the 5%’s. 5% will always be in deep shit no mater what happens for them. Many think it their “noble calling” to help the 5%. Sadly they do not really want to exert any effort at all and are afraid of success so they guard against help even as it approaches.

  4. “fear of the unknown” is it really fear. For some yes for others they prefer the “Status Quo” as it were.

    They say well this is how it works and it worked in the past so it must be right. Most everyone else does it so again it must be the right thing to do. The majority is right. Wrong.

    Just because something has worked to a degree in the past does not mean it will work now or in the future.

    And maybe it worked for them but maybe your course of action or time on this planet will not be the “right” time for you.

    Your direction is your direction.

    In fact the only true way to “be lucky” is to be willing as you say to take chances. Sometimes you win and sometimes you fail.

    It makes you feel alive.

    My saying is this: When on my rocking chair on the porch looking back at things I would prefer to say I tried everything I wanted to try in life. No regrets no wish to say well if I could have only done this maybe.

    If you want to do it do it.


    Do not wait.

    Do not hope you can do it later. Later things happen things change just look at the mess we are in now. People who have saved and are trying to save for retirement well need I say more.

    If it works great if it does not so what at least you followed your own path and dam the torpedo’s full steam ahead as they say.

    Every person is different and we all need to follow the path that most people follow but from time to time we are given a choice a fork in the road.

    When that happens this is when you must be willing to take a chance – live life and like in poker (see how I got that one in for you since you left it out) sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes you just plain get lucky.

    Or a role of the dice if you prefer.

    Life what a rush enjoy every minute.

  5. Lol@libertine and the poker reference you left out! You may think you made your own luck with Susie, but methinks Susie had an awful lot to do with that “luck”. eehard and I concluded that without Susie’s persistence (or what I refer to as the Steel Magnolia Factor), you might still be out there being a lonely anarchist snob!

  6. I think it’s clear from his comments that Libertine is the type who makes his own luck.

  7. > lonely anarchist snob!

    Anarchist – defintely.

    Snob? Moi? It is true that once I had delusions of adequacy; no loner. 😉

    Lonely? Maybe.; but I like tot think I’d have fooled *someone* into taking up with me… lol!

    And, you can be married and lonely as well as alone but not lonely.

  8. No offense intended Anarchist 🙂 No one as cool as you would ever be lonely long, unless it was by choice! Just trying to give Susie credit where credit is due.

  9. No offense taken… I was just playing along.

    Susie does deserve a lot of crdit…for putting up with a curmudgeon like me for all these years! lol!

    Well, maybe I’ve been a curmudgeon for only the last 5 or so years. 😉

  10. I love the message here. It’s one that can’t be repeated often enough, in my mind. I think I work hard to “feel lucky.” It’s not always easy but the end result is so worthwhile. I find that being grateful, counting my blessings, feeling lucky, the power of positive thinking… whatever you want to call it have the desired effect when I make a conscious effort to be aware. I can find myself in a funk and at times like that, I put my blessings in writing and by the time I’m done, I feel uplifted.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  11. Hi Terri,

    You must have been “feeling lucky” to shoot to #1 in bowling! Keep it up….

    Sorry for the delay in your comment being published. For some reason I had to approve it, even though I’ve previously approved you; I think you changed your screen name?

    I wasn’t online Wednesday night. I ate too many fried pickles…. 😉 (Fine Southern foods may be a future post.)

  12. I admire your willingness to try different foods but you’ve been groosing me out lately. How the hell do you fry a pickle? I take that back…. If yo can fry a twinkie, you can fry anything!

  13. Nick, when I first heard about fried pickles I wasn’t keen on them either. But, I do like pickles, so when a friend ordered them at Hooters, I tried one and … wow!

    Basically, it is a dill pickle slice with a light coating of flour. Once you bite through the coating, you can taste the pickle just as if you were eating it from a jar.

    Now, as a college student you should know: on Wednesdays, Hooter’s has two-for-one on many appetizers. So you can get a heap of fried pickles (and I mean a heap) plus say some onion rings for about $5. Throw in the Wednesday wing platter (10 boneless wings *plus* fries) for another $6 and it’s a huge meal for two for about $11. And, if you can rustle up someone with a state employee badge, that’s another 20% off!

    Of course, that’s a lot of fried food….that’s why I was out of it Wednesday night. It wasn’t just the fired pickles.

  14. So, your story is that you go to Hooter’s for the food?

What say you?

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