We all want a good life – good health, good food, adequate shelter, a harmonious family, a rewarding career. In short, a life we can enjoy.
For many, this happens to be possible, but for many, it does not. Why is that? What is that makes a difference in lives?
For years, my perception, as most people’s perception, was clouded by the notion that it takes good education, hard work, right choices, and determination to achieve what constitutes a good life. But do all people who are not well off work less hard or possess less talent? How come that some people have a better life situation with fewer efforts than others? The discrepancy between actions and outcome – in some cases, outrageous -is disturbing.
Now, I know – there is one single thing that makes the difference in people’s lives – luck! Your intelligence, efforts, choices, and determination will only be wasted if you are not lucky enough down the road.
Fortune, destiny, fate, kismet -the force that causes things to happen to you by chance and not due to your own efforts or abilities – with a different perception of its power, the concept of luck has existed in all cultures, regions and times. But today’s society enforces the mantra of meritocracy – the belief that success and status in life depend entirely on individual talents, abilities, and effort. The role of luck in shaping events and outcomes is overlooked, ignored, or denied. The reason is simple – vainglory. Attributing success only to our talent is favourable, and admitting the interplay of luck – demoralizing. Most people would not readily admit that they had a pinch of luck in what they have achieved, as this will diminish their merits and prestige.
Inflating the part of individual merits in people’s success stories creates a distorted reality. It causes the burnout of many talented and hard-working people who lacked the chance others had. Some would object that we are designing our luck—pure vainglory and ignorance. In the first place, which of these can we choose – to be born in good or compromised health, in a poor or rich country, in times of war or peace, during the recession or economic boom, in a supporting or abusing home?
We can choose our wife or husband, but is it only up to us whether we will have a happy family later on? We can qualify for a job, but
are all the factors to get it in our control?
No one would ever know the exact proportion, but it is the perfect blend of an individual’s actions and good luck. And because one crucial variable is out of peoples’ control – this variable would make the difference.
Many people have no fewer virtues and work not less than others, but some are granted the pinch of luck, and others – are not. And this pinch of luck, smaller or larger, is all that makes the difference in lives. And sometimes – a difference between burnout and flourishing.