Luck and Happiness

I do not know if you know who Michael Lewis is. I first saw him when I saw this video of him giving a speech. Watch it if you have about 13 minutes. I think it’s worth watching.

“Life’s outcomes, while not entirely random, have a huge amount of luck baked into them,” he once told students at his alma mater, Princeton. “Above all, recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck — and with luck comes obligation.”

And this idea that luck is as important if not more important than ability resonates in his life. From “On Becoming Michael Lewis“:

“The happiest people are the ones who believe they are lucky, rather than entitled or owed their success. For that reason, Michael is one of the happiest people I know…He has been a very, very lucky camper. What sets him apart is that he knows it. That not only makes him a happy camper, but it helps him guide the rest of us, with deceptively simple tales, a little closer to the grace that is birthed by gratitude.”

I do not know if Steve Jobs was a happy person. He does not seem depressed. But I do not get the sense that he is a bon vivant, or have that joie de vivre, that je nais se quoi (ok, the French lesson ends here) that Michael Lewis exudes.

I get the sense that Lewis is grateful, and his gratitude translates to a grace that is happiness.

I get the sense that Jobs almost takes it as a given that he can engineer his achievements by sheer force of will. And that precludes him from feeling gratitude, or experiencing grace or the unbridled happiness that comes from that gratitude. But I could be projecting. So who knows? Certainly having cancer is not lucky, so if he was unhappy, it was also because he was not lucky… no?

It is good to be good (at something), but it is better to be lucky. And the happiest people are those who know that they have been lucky, rather than just good. In this, I look back and I realised, I have been happiest the last 3 – 4 years because of luck – luck in marrying PL (or having PL agree to marry me), lucky in having Z in my life.

So I am grateful.

Count your blessings. It will make you happier. (When you are grateful for the blessings that have come your way.)

Realise also that blessings (luck) come regardless of your ability or effort, it is pure, dumb luck.

Realise also that blessings are relative. There are lots of social experiments and YouTube videos of poor people helping poorer people and they do so because they feel grateful for what little they have, and realise that others have even less than them, are less blessed than them. Less lucky than them. Imagine! A homeless man who feels that he is luckier than another homeless person!

So as people are wishing you “Happy New Year” (as if you weren’t happy in the Old Year?), or even “Happy Birthday”, what they are really wishing for you is that you be grateful for the luck that comes your way, and that gratitude will be the basis of your Happiness.

So, “Don’t Worry. Be Grateful.”

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This entry was posted in Gratitude, Life Lessons, Musing, Personal. Bookmark the permalink.

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