I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it ~
Thomas Jefferson

More times than I can count I have had people tell me, “You are so lucky.” And this sentiment is issued with varying degrees of scorn, appreciation, disdain or frustration. An old friend of mine used to say to me, “If this story doesn’t end with you getting a ticket, I don’t want to hear it,” when I would explain why I was late to work, having been pulled over again (no tickets.) An acquaintance in Hong Kong who I am around here and there always, always goes on about how lucky I am with just about every element of my life (I find this tedious and a bit insulting.) I hear students say it all the time, “That guy is so lucky – he got into Stanford!” (Oh yeah, that was random. Riiiggghhhtt.)


Like Thomas Jefferson, I am a big believer. And also, just like the old guy, I have found that the harder I work the more of it I have.

Ex #3 used to say to me all the time, “I’d rather be lucky than good.” I think about this often. He was in oil exploration, so I see his point. I also understand how you could be quite taleted and theoretically, very unlucky and then always be coming up short. But I  have to question such talent. I have decided, I would rather be good… luck will follow.

I started thinking about luck the other day when I was reading a blog by one of my oldest friends, Moneky Mama… As I read her post about her dad, who is kinda like one of my dads, I was just thinking, “Man, we were so lucky to grow up around the people we did and the way we did and where we did and when we did.” I felt a bit nostalgic, truth be told. And when I think about my family, and my friends, I do feel so ridiculously lucky. And the same when I think about the work that I do, I feel really lucky that I seriously enjoy my work. Srsly. (Not to be confused with loving my job, by the way.) But actually, no. I feel fortunate. Not simply lucky.

Lucky: Occurring by chance; fortuitous

Fortunate: Bringing or indicating good fortune; resulting favorably; auspicious

These are fairly synonymous terms, I know, but I read something different into them. Being lucky seems like total happenstance, whereas being fortunate, to me, seems consequential of things less random or arbitrary. Perhaps I am being picayune. Perhaps not. I am grateful everyday for the life that I have and the people I have in it. Every single day. And that is pretty freaking cool. I am also immersed in a culture that is consumed with the idea of luck – but I wonder if anyone has ever considered the relationship between the Chinese (Asian, even) work ethic and their obsession with luck. My Chinese friends have myriad mechanisms to encourage good luck and good fortune, but they never rely solely on luck no matter how much they believe in it… they honestly, totally, wholeheartedly work for it. I think they are definitely on to something.

Is it an accident that I have so many awesome people in my life? Is it arbitrary that I know so many people who are well connected and willing to help? Is it just good luck that I have skills that allow me to always have a job, a home and a lifestyle I desire? I defer to the Jefferson on this one. I have worked hard, and I have been careful (mostly) with decisions I have made. If I have not made my own luck, I am certain I have contributed to it. I try to avoid acting like a total jackass and accept that when I do, I am decidedly less lucky. Coincidence? You be the judge.

I realize that this whole thing could come across as ridiculously  arrogant, (which I am sometimes) but that is not really the intention. The last few years I have watched the cycle of gratitude and good fortune and the way they feed off each other. In my life this relationship has manifested itself in tangible ways time and again. Am I lucky? Maybe. Am I grateful? Definitely. Rather be lucky than good? Eh – that is your judgement to make… But if you think luck just happens, you have been eating too much of that manky cereal with the stale marshmallows.

[However, if it is simple, dumb luck that prevents me from getting tickets… who am I to moan about it – call me lucky.]


About Amanda

I am repatriating expatriate trying to work it all out. Well, to work some of it out anyhow. I am writing here for sanity, focus and general over-sharing.
This entry was posted in Family, Friends, Life, Perception and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Lucky.

  1. Jeff Lau says:

    Hey Amanda,

    I came across your page after trying to google chinese calligraphy. I really do agree with what u’re saying in thia article and i dont believe u’re being arrogant in what u’re saying either. Its just confidence, if things are going right in your life you have a right to be confident. And even if things are going wrong in your life, you shud have the self confidence to keep on going and keep your head held high. Hardwork will get someone almost anywhere, if you know what to work for. I think some people get too caught up in one area of their life, for instance their career. Theres some people that get lucky and meet someone that hands them a life changing opportunity, such as as job. people who have been working their way up the ladder to see this new kid at a higher rank than them straight from the off will be like ‘gosh that kids so lucky in getting the job’. But the truth is that that kid probably worked hard on his social skills as well as working hard on his career and through ‘luck’ met someone who could fast forward him a bit.

    I think in life you need to cover all bases to get to the top and broaden your horizons.

    Anyway nice article, it reminds me of this book i’m going to read soon (i’ve bought it) called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I’m reading another book by him called Blink. Anyway Outliers is about the success of people and the author has a theory that most successful people, for instance a top violinist has spent over 10000 hours doing what they do.

    Kinda random how i bumped into your blog. Gotta get back to my project for uni!

    Have a nice day


  2. Amanda says:

    Some questions on luck for thought… From the Friday Five (

    1. Do you believe in good and/or bad luck?
    2. Do you believe there is one man/woman luckier than all the rest?
    3. When was the last time you considered yourself lucky?
    4. What is the most unlucky thing to ever happen to you?
    5. Where do you think luck (good or bad) comes from?

  3. Pingback: A Freudian foxhole, I am sure. | No, THIS is how you do it…

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