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Making your own good luck

Food For Thought

I’ve come to believe our perceptions and expectations affect things that seemingly happen to us by chance. Aside from birthday candles and chicken wishbones, we halfway believe praying or wishing for something will increase its chances of happening. Sometimes, even though we’ve given up hope, the thing we’ve dreamed of actually comes true and we start to believe in Lady Luck. Such things happened to me often enough I have become curious about the role of luck (or the lack of it) and dug out an old magazine article I’d saved. The article described some experiments involving luck and explained just how we often influence the outcome of things without actually being aware we are doing so. The experiments indicated we can actually control much of our good or bad fortune.
When we pray or wish for something, we have to define just what it is we need or want. By doing that, we are stating a goal and are more likely to recognize things that may lead to achieving that goal. In other words, if you don’t have a good description of just what it you are looking for, you won’t recognize it when it comes along.
The more people who are aware of your goal, the more help you are likely to receive toward achieving it. So tell people what you are looking for. Even if you haven’t actually enlisted their active help, they are more likely to think about your search when the object or opportunity arises and tell you about it.
Here is an example of how it can work; many years ago, I wrote in this column I was looking for a golden retriever puppy but they seemed to be so popular it was difficult to locate a breeder who had one for sale. As we had enjoyed owning three of those loving and lovable dogs in the past, but had been dog-less for a year or two, my husband wanted another, now that he was retired. A couple years later, I received a phone call from a woman who remembered reading the column. She asked if I was still looking for a puppy and told me of a neighbor of hers who had a litter just the right age for adopting. It was definitely my good luck she remembered, but she wouldn’t have known about it if I hadn’t let it be known I was searching for a puppy.
Another strategy is to put yourself in places where the wished-for thing is likely to turn up. It’s not very likely you will find an apple in a cornfield, or catch an alligator in a mountain stream. And you probably won’t find a handy-man listed in the yellow pages under “Restaurants.”
Be flexible and open-minded. If you have your heart set on one very specific goal– be it finding a designer handbag for five dollars at a garage sale, or dating a Robert Redford look-alike– you are going to miss out on a lot of other bargains because your vision is too concentrated on what you think you want. Good luck, after all, implies the unexpected, so don’t look for specifics.
A good sense of humor and positive frame of mind help you to get over the disappointments and find delight in the totally accidental. Don’t dwell on what didn’t happen the way you expected it to, and celebrate the fact that you escaped disaster– that’s good luck, too.
There’s an old joke about Jake, who prayed to win the lottery. Every week, he asked God to let him win and, week after week, someone else won it. Desperate, he made his case in the most dramatic terms.
“I’ve worked like a horse all my life, my son has a terrible disease and we’ve spent all our money on doctors, my wife and I both work but we’re on the brink of losing our home and everything we own. Please let me win the lottery– just so we can keep our son in treatment and feed ourselves.”
There was a crash of lightning and a voice came from the heavens, “Jake, first you got to buy a ticket.”
You should also take advantage of lesser opportunities while you’re searching for the big one. Back in the 1970s, I signed up for a cartooning class just to have a reason to get out of the house and do something for myself for a change. I created several cartoons and offered them to this newspaper. I sold one about every three weeks, and because my cartoons were in the paper, I subscribed to it and happened to read the editor’s request for someone to write a cooking column. I could do that, I could put a sentence together, and I liked to cook. After a couple years, the column morphed into an opinion column and—well—I’m still here, sharing my thoughts with you every week.