I’ve won a few prize drawings in my lifetime, like a department store gift certificate, free groceries, and, oh yeah, a car. It was a used car, and I had just turned 16 so I considered myself pretty lucky at the time.
The feelings of luck generated by those types of winnings are short-lived. It’s a fun memory but they don’t really change your life all that much. Research has shown that people who win the lottery and win millions aren’t much happier and probably don’t think their luck at winning the lottery has improved their life.
So if winning prize drawings or the lottery doesn’t make you lucky, what does? Maybe it’s different for everyone, but here are a few things that make me lucky and maybe you, too:
- Education – My parents stressed the importance of reading and the value of an education from the time I was a small child. A favorite memory I have is of both my parents reading each evening. I went to a small school in the rural Midwest where funds were tight, and we probably didn’t have all the equipment or programs of the richer schools districts. But we had dedicated teachers and interested parents, who provided the educational foundation and set great examples for us. For that, I consider myself pretty fortunate.
- Opportunity – As I’ve gotten older, I realize the importance of recognizing an opportunity when it comes along. Yes, some of it has to do with being in the right place at the right time. In order to be in the right place, you have to get out there – not sit on the couch and watch TV. Not that you have to be active all the time, but get out and meet people. Many of the great things that have happened in my life seemed like serendipity at the time. However, if I hadn’t been out doing something, it wouldn’t have happened at all.
- Rewarding work – Everyone wants to have a purpose in life. If you have a job you love or even if it’s just a job that pays the bills, you are lucky. Maybe you are unhappy at your job right now, but remember the line from Gulliver’s Travels: “There are no small jobs, just small people.” If you don’t like your job, think about how your work serves others. If you serve others, you are fulfilling a purpose.
- Friends and family – To me, this is the most important part of all. Having friends and family that we love and love us is critical to our happiness. If you have friends and family that you can share your life with, you are one lucky person.
As many philosophers have advised, luck is believing you’re lucky. May you have that belief and good fortune always.