“You’re so lucky!” “Wow that was such blind luck.” You hear these statements all the time, everything from (perhaps in a movie) a person narrowly escaping death by being shot and the bullet misses an artery by an inch, to the poker table, where a player has a mere 2% of hitting his winning hand and gets it.
Luck is also attributed to many mundane daily activities; people would consider themselves ‘lucky’ when it rains just as they arrive at their indoor destination after forgetting to bring an umbrella.
But how does one define ‘luck’? It seems like the term is often used and interpreted in a variety of ways, some are more instinctive while others are more mathematical. To me, the concept of luck is generally divided into two:
1. Lucky – Good fortune as a result of chance.
2. ‘Lucky’ – The outcome of a series of deliberate, calculated decisions, that has numerous outcomes with different percentages in the chances of each happening attached to each outcome. In this case, ‘luck’ refers to the minority outcomes.
The important thing to note here is, the two ‘lucks’ are the same, almost all the time. But while the latter is an admittance to being faced by a minority occurrence (i.e. the opposite of “beating the odds”, or having favorable odds but not turning out the person’s way) those who declare someone or something got ‘lucky’ in the former are usually clouded by emotions. Note that upon acknowledging the fact that a person was hit by a minority occurrence, he can still call the event ‘luck’, although he would be using it as a labeling tool for said minority occurrence.
This also speaks to the classical philosophical concept that everything is numbers, first developed by the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras. My take on this is slightly different: I do not liken everything – that is, literally all shapes, objects, existence, and actions – to numbers. But I do believe that all acts can be related to in a mathematical way. Everything is chance, even for acts which we usually do not associate chance with. Everything, from the chances of one inserting a key directly in the lock to the accuracy of the laser in an eye surgery, is chance.
Yet, it seems like the frustrations and anger associated with the first type of luck are experienced by those who cannot or do not come to terms with the randomness of chance. Perhaps for some it is a spur of the moment outburst of emotion, but there are many who believe in factors other than the randomness of chance that affect their ‘luck’. Some might believe it is karma, but the majority usually possess a religious belief in divine intervention, a deity that seemingly gives them a purpose in life rather than believing that they exist because of chance.
This religious aspect of ‘luck’ shall be visited another time, during a religion-focused discussion. Suffice to say that religion provides people with an alternative to believing that they exist solely by chance.
So, next time when you think you got ‘lucky’, give it a quick thought: was it really just ‘blind’ luck? Is it God’s work? Or were you just struck by a small percentage occurrence?