Lucky to Be Alive
I love how the author Roald Dahl put it, he said, "Above all, watch with glittering eyes "the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets, "they're always hidden in the most unlikely places. "Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." In a way, it's true, what we believe in affects what we see. And this is true with trying to find beauty, but it's also true with good luck. There've been a number of studies that have done about whether or not people are lucky or not. And there's one study in particular, which fascinated me, there was, and here's what happened, they asked people, "How do you evaluate yourself, are you lucky or not?" The people who were lucky accomplished a task that the unlucky folks just couldn't do. And the task was to look through a newspaper and to count how many photographs were there. Well, on page two, on a half-page size of the newspaper, it said, "There are 55 photographs in the newspaper." Now, the unlucky folks missed that completely. The l...
ucky people, the self-described lucky people saw that and said, "Well, yeah," they told the person, "There are so many photographs in the newspaper." And they started to realize, as they did study after study, and these have been happening since the '60s, that luck actually has to do with our point of view. Now, our point of view does really shape the way that we interpret the world. Another author, Shawn Achor, talks about this concept, and he asks us, the, his readers, this question. Imagine you go into your bank in order to get some cash. And there you are, standing in line, and a bank robber comes in, let's say there are 30 people in the bank, and the bank robber fires off a shot, and it hits you in the leg, how do you interpret the event? Now the unlucky person says, "Oh my gosh. "Out of all these people in here, "I am the unlucky one that got shot." The lucky person says, "Oh my gosh. "That was like 24 inches from my heart. "I am so lucky, I could have died. "Or worse, I could have been damaged in a really bad way. "I'm just lucky, it was just my leg." And that having that perspective, I think, can help us to approach things in a more creative way. And this isn't just about being Pollyanna, or kind of glossing over things when they go bad, but it's about having this internal belief. It's about, as Roald Dahl said, it's about looking at the world with glittering eyes, it's about believing in magic, and unless you believe it, you won't find it. E.B. White puts it this way, he says, "No one should come to New York "unless he or she is willing to be lucky." And the same thing goes for anyone who does creative work. No one should try to be a photographer, an artist, an illustrator, unless he or she is willing to have some luck, because without a touch of luck, really, I don't think we'll get very far. Alright, so what, then, is the action step? I mean, it's a great idea, right? Great concept, how do we foster, how do we cultivate luck in our own lives? Well, one of the ways I think we can begin, is with a journal, and with a journal, take a few minutes, and just write down, "Well, hey, when have I been lucky in my life?" What are some, and if luck, that word doesn't work for you, think about, when have I been fortunate? Well, I was really fortunate, you know, to grow up in the town where I did, I was fortunate to have a brother, or sister, I was fortunate to go to this school. It was really lucky when I won that bike. Review, reflect, and take stock. The only way you can adopt a luck mindset, or a fortunate mindset, is to begin to cultivate it yourself. Next is to ask yourself this question. Einstein said it was perhaps the most important question, and here's what he said, "The most important question "is whether or not the universe is for or against us." In other words, is everything just out there to try to crush and ruin my dreams and my approach to all the stuff I'm doing, or no? Is it for me, and am I going to look for those things? And the creative folks, they aren't passively sitting by, but they're creatively making things happen, and saying, "You know what, come hell or high water, "I'm gonna make the most with what I have." And maybe that's even a little bit of luck, I'm gonna generate some of that. Another way, of course, that we can cultivate this, is look at other people's lives. And for me, I always go to books to try to do that. So I have a couple books that I wanna recommend. The first one is called "Adrift" by Steven Callahan. I wanna read just a few lines from it. It's a story of this guy who was sailing, doing the solo transatlantic race, and his boat sank. And there he is, off the Canary Islands, in just a life raft, and he floated across the Atlantic. It's a great, great tale, but anyway, at one point, he said, here he is, out there at sea, and he says, "I have a choice: to pilot myself to a new life "or to give up and watch myself die." And so there is a primal choice, really, right? Do we give up, throw in the towel, or do we pilot ourself to something new? And also, he said, you know, "Here I sit, "a thousand miles away from companionship, money, "or luxury, yet I have a feeling of wealth." And the feeling of wealth that he had was this one situation where there's, he had no food, right? He was trying to fish as he was going, his fishing supplies were degrading and falling apart, but at this one point this fish jumped into his life raft, and he felt like the wealthiest, most wonderful man alive. So lucky, yet his predicament, or situation, was so dire. So anyway, part of what we need to do is to look at these stories of people who have found luck along the way. This is a great adventure tale. Another one, and a little bit more practical, is called "The Happiness Advantage" by Shawn Achor. He has a great TED Talk, if you Google his name, about this whole concept, and a book, which backs it up as well. What's great about Shawn is, his approach isn't ooey-gooey, it's academic, and I always appreciate that, especially with topics like this. Because it isn't just about thinking good things, but it's saying, yeah, you know, intellectually, does this actually work, is there some truth behind these things? Now both those books, I think, say yes in a different way. All right, well, in closing, as you think about luck in your own life, begin even now, look around yourself and say, "Well hey, how am I lucky?" Begin to cultivate that, and as you do, I think you'll find that it's a secret, it's one of the secrets, one of the keys to a more creative life.