It seems like a pretty common occurrence for us to overestimate how unlucky we are and underestimate how lucky we actually are. If you think about it, “luck” evens out in the long term (unless you believe in some outside force that controls “luck”, in which case, I can’t change your mind). But if you agree with me, then if we were being completely rational all the time, there would be no reason to complain about how unlucky we are. If we were completely rational, we would tell ourselves “well, when I decided not to take my umbrella today, I did so with the realization that it was still going to rain 10% of the time, and well, it so happens that this was the 10% of the time that it was going to rain”.
But no, instead, we go “damn, I’m so unlucky – how could it rain?” But when it doesn’t rain the other 90% of the time, we never say to ourselves, “wow, I’m so lucky that it didn’t rain!”. Now, you might say to yourself, well, that’s not getting lucky because it’s not supposed to rain the vast majority of the time. And I’m here to tell you, sorry, that’s actually not the case. You are getting lucky.
The reality is that anytime something occurs above the expectation, well, then you’re getting lucky. So if it’s supposed to not rain 90% of the time, but in this specific instance it did not rain, well then in this specific moment, it did not rain 100% of the time. Thus, you were on the good side of variance – which is being a bit lucky.
Now, if this scenario were to occur over a long period of time, say years, then most likely it will have rained 90% of the time in the long run (unless you get really, really unlucky). But most of the time when we talk about luck, we’re referring to specific, single events, in which case we often misunderstand luck.
One of the interesting things about our conception of luck is that we seem to overestimate how unlucky we are (while underestimating how lucky we actually are). For some reason, our minds tend to focus on and remember the times we were unlucky way more than the times that we are lucky. Maybe we are naturally cynical and whiny, and we like everyone to know how unfair our lives are.
A common example I read in a book was how we often remember and complain about the times we get stuck in a long line at the grocery store, but how often do we really stop to think and remember the times when we ended up at the fast line?
I dwell on how “unfair” or “unlucky” my life as much as the next person. But not today. I can complain all I want about how much life sucks or about how much stupid crap happened the other day, but the fact is that I’m really damn lucky, and I should admit it. I think we all need to do it more. Or at least admit how lucky we are as often as we complain about how unlucky we are, you know, to balance.
I don’t want to go into a whole spiel about everything I should be grateful for, but I do want to say that I have some damn awesome friends. There are a lot of things in this world I’m willing to lose, but losing my closest friends would destroy me. I am human, so I’m a social creature by nature – take that away from me and life will seriously blow.
The end of this past week was a bit emotionally taxing for me. Some sad, depressing stuff happened. Last night I hung out with my closest high school friends and had a great time, and felt rejuvenated today. Went out for some solid Korean BBQ, and then ended up at my friend Jason’s place just to hang out. Mad props to Jason for figuring out that my laptop wasn’t completely broken in the first five minutes. Turns out I had a corrupted driver, so he transferred all my important data out, wiped my hard drive, then reinstalled the operating system and copied my files back. Thanks for saving me $1,500+ or whatever the heck I was going to spend on a Lenovo Thinkpad. This is why you should never assume you know what’s going on when you honestly have no idea how something works.
The karaoke on Friday seemed to have helped me eliminate some of my self consciousness when it comes to singing. I guess 4.5 hours of karaoke does that to you. Played some Rock Band last night, and I felt a lot more loose and willing to let big notes fly on the microphone.
Anyways lots of good conversation, lots of good jokes. Just an all around solid night. I feel really lucky that despite many of us ending up at different universities, we still find time at least once a month to just meet up and chill.
So there you go, me bragging about how lucky I am. Try it sometime, you’ll feel a ton better.
Alright, I better spend the next half an hour trying to cram some more anatomy into my head before calling it a night. Have a good week!