How Has Luck Shaped Your Life?

When we think about the events in our lives, most people do not acknowledge the role of luck in what has happened to them.

If something good happens, you may be tempted to ascribe it to something that you did, or something that you earned. Good things happen because you worked hard. Or because you planned. Maybe you were smarter than others, which allowed you to succeed.

Similarly, negative events can often be blamed on a conspiracy against you. If you don’t get that raise at work, it is because your boss doesn’t like you. Even if you accept the blame — you didn’t get the raise because you didn’t work enough overtime, for example — that may not be accurate.

Luck plays a larger role in our lives than many admit. Most of the big decisions in your life, like where you live, what company you work for, who you are married to, where you went to college, etc. often come down to luck.

Maybe you chose to look at one open house and not another, and the one you picked is the place you currently live. Why did you choose one over the other? You got lucky.

You might have selected one party instead of another, and at that party you met the love of your life. In hindsight, it was a wise choice. But at the time you made it, it was the equivalent of a coin flip.

This is not to say that no one deserves anything in their lives, good or bad. People make bad decisions. Then they must live with the consequences of those bad decisions. But not every bad outcome is due to a bad decision, and not every benefit in life comes from merit.

How has luck (good or bad) shaped your life? Do you think you have had more good luck, or bad? Or is it about equal?

Related questions: What is luck? Can you make yourself luckier? How do you define success? When is doubt helpful?

A special thanks to Meagan O’Brien, who suggested the question.

How Are We Doing?

Intellectual Roundtable has been in operation for nearly a year and a half. In that time, we have posted nearly a hundred questions, on topics that range from introspective to worldly, from serious to silly. You can see a full list of all the questions ever posted at our Past Questions page.

During this time, we have had ups and downs. Some questions have received more interest than others. Some weeks and months have seen more activity, others less. The question we often ask ourselves is: why?

As the end of the summer approaches, as people are finishing up their vacations and preparing to go back to school or back to work, we thought we would ask for some feedback.

How are we doing?

Do some questions resonate with you? Do they make you think? When you are in a social situation, do you ever ask some of the questions of other people? Feel free to share any stories of conversations you may have had at a party or other gathering.

If you do not respond to questions, why not? What are the obstacles to sharing your opinion? Posting is completely anonymous, should you wish.

Should there be more frequent questions? Less frequent?

One of the goals that Michael and I have for the blog is to encourage interaction between commenters. Have you ever responded to someone else’s comment? Would you do that?

If you find you like a particular question, have you ever shared it on social media? What do you think would get you to share one with your friends? Sharing on social media is the way that a blog like this attracts new readers and grows an audience.

What do you think about the look of the website, or about the navigation in place? What about the appearance of questions on Facebook?

Finally, for those who aren’t interested in providing feedback, there is an alternate interpretation of the question. As a species, how are we doing? Is there hope in our growing understanding of the world, or does our shortsightedness doom us?

Related questions: How can you help? How have we changed?

How Can We Encourage Debate?

Having a healthy, respectful, robust debate takes more than simply having an opinion and a loud voice. If I make a list of what is needed to have a good dialogue, what would that list contain?

In an era of polarized opinions on a number of topics including politics, religion, health care, gun control, immigration, abortion, and several other issues, how can we have a debate in which opposing sides actually listen to each other?

How can we encourage debate?

Related questions: How can we turn ideas into actions? What is necessary to change your mind? When is doubt helpful? How do you know who to trust?

What Do You Do That You Shouldn’t?

We all do things that we know are bad for us, for our individual selves or for our society or for our environment. And yet for one reason or another, for pleasure or convenience, for personal ease or peer pressure, we do them anyway.

What do you do that you know you shouldn’t?

Related questions: How much of our thoughts are our own? What are our responsibilities to others? How do you define success? When is it useful to fail?

When Is A Lie Justified?

When it comes to telling the truth, we are all on a spectrum. Some people lie easily and often, other people lie only infrequently.

But, I would maintain, we all lie sometime. So, by extension, there are times when lying is acceptable or even preferred. So what are those times? When is a lie justified?

Related questions: What would happen if people were completely honest? How can we recognize dishonesty? How can we be more honest?