Oh, Bad Luck!?

Miss The Bus

Familiar scene? We’ve all been there!

“Nothing ever goes right for me! I missed the bus this morning which meant I was late for my exam. I had no idea how to answer any of the questions so I’ve probably failed, and then I had to walk home because I’d forgotten to take money out from the cash point for my bus fare and it was the last bus. I’m so unlucky!

Sound familiar? You’re a good person, you work hard, yet bad things like this just seem to happen. Perhaps the universe is just out to get you, and that your life is destined to never be as easy as you wish it to be. If you’ve already detected the hint of sarcasm, then you’ve probably already worked out the topic of this post.

Before I go any further I want to reiterate that apart from two quotes I will use at the end of the post, these are entirely my own views and opinions. I haven’t done any prior reading or research whatsoever, yet I’m certain that I could find substantial relevant material on this topic if I looked hard enough. This is purely the result of a thought that occurred to me after a conversation with a family member.

1 in 14 million chance of getting all six numbers

1 in 14 million chance of getting all six numbers

If I had to describe luck using my own words, I would say that good luck is when you get the outcome you desire, from a situation over which you have absolutely no control whatsoever. A good example is of course – winning the lottery. There’s nothing at all you can do to alter the result of the draw, it’s pure chance. There’s a 1 in 14 million chance of all six of your numbers coming up, and if they do, then yes you’ve been incredibly lucky – Well done!

Bad luck then would be the complete opposite – getting the outcome you don’t want from a situation that you can’t influence in any way. By this definition however, it’s proving very difficult to find an example of bad luck. The reason being is that I can’t think of an unlucky situation that’s unavoidable. This may appear very black and white or perhaps even unrealistic, but think about it for a moment. If you miss the bus in a morning – is that a case of bad luck or is that sheer lack of preparation? If you’re caught out by the weather and it starts raining – is there nothing you could have done in order to be prepared for the downpour, or could you have maybe checked the weather forecast and took an umbrella or suitable clothing? And your exam – were you just unlucky that the questions you wanted didn’t come up, or is it a case of not being prepared for any eventuality?

Bad luck as a concept can be incredibly misleading. It acts as a mechanism which allows us to exempt ourselves from blame and responsibility when things don’t go to plan. It allows us to dive under the ‘bad luck’ security blanket, comforted knowing that ‘there was nothing we could have done, it was out of our hands’. It provides us with a quick, painless, guilt-free way to justify our misfortune, whilst putting no-one at fault.

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity

Good luck in the same sense can also be misleading. I’m not talking about winning the lottery, but about the job offer you just received after doing incredibly well in your interview. Were you lucky, or were you just well prepared? That feeling of good luck doesn’t help us to acknowledge or value the result of effort and hard work. When things seem to be going well and everything is sliding into place, it’s not because you got lucky, but because of your actions alone. Recognise this, if only to inspire you to continue working hard and succeeding.

Everyone has the same luck, in that we all have the ability to take control of our own lives. The difference is between those who believe in being lucky and unlucky, and those who believe in creating their own luck. Continuing to blame wrong decisions and lack of preparation on bad luck will only result in making further such decisions until you assume responsibility of your own actions. On the other hand when you do something well, take note that your actions alone are the reason as to why you succeed, and continue in striving to achieve all that you deserve to achieve.

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


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2 thoughts on “Oh, Bad Luck!?

  1. Ben Oxley says:

    I was thinking about this the other day and more broadly about attitudes. It seems to me that “bad luck” and “bad days” seem to happen consistently for people who are unwilling to accept blame and responsibility for themselves and their actions.

  2. Thomas Fox says:

    Up until this last month or two, I’ve been a great example of how blaming everything on ‘bad luck’ gives you a guilt-free justification of how awful your life may seem. It’s great sensation, to feel like you gave something your all. Putting misfortune down to bad luck simply makes you feel that the responsibility of something going right was never in your hands in the first place.

    I really am struggling to think of an example of what I’d call ‘pure bad luck’. A situation over which you have no input whatsoever, that produces outcome you really didn’t want. I guess maybe being born in a poverty stricken country, riddled with disease could be a prime example. When dealing with general day to day stuff however I think it’s fair to say that 99.9% of the time, it’s your own fault.

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