How Are You Fortunate?

It can be important, for a variety of reasons, to recognize the ways in which you are fortunate.

There are different ways fortune might smile upon you. A smart decision you made in the past might have delivered a good outcome. The assistance of a friend or family member might have made things easier for you. You might have even received a lucky break now and again. Or some combination of those.

It can be good for your mental health to acknowledge ways in which you are fortunate. Doing so can even take the edge off an unlucky or unfortunate turn of events.


Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘How do you show thanks?’ We discuss another question as well, ‘What book has had the biggest impact on you?’


There are other ways that recognizing your fortune can help. You can become more attuned to people who are not as fortunate — or are fortunate in different ways. If you can identify them, you might even be able to determine ways that you can reproduce that fortune, and improve your life even further.

How are you fortunate? Is your fortune the result of conscious decisions, or due to blind luck?

Related questions: How has luck shaped your life? What are you grateful for? How do you show thanks? How can we appreciate life more?

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.