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Want to be lucky?

The majority of the Buddhists in Myanmar are familiar with the common saying that each individual comes to this world with his own fate already written for him since his birth. ‘Fate’ here is understood as the supposed force or power that determines events.

Luck, on the other hand, means the chance happening of either fortunate or adverse events. There’s also a second meaning of the word ‘luck’ referring to good fortune or prosperity or success. The adjective ‘lucky’ means having good luck or fortuitous. Worldwide, we have been witnessing all kinds of accidents happening all the time and so too are the miracle, though not as frequent as the former, taking place for which there seem to be no scientific explanations whatsoever. Many of us believe in luck and it is not uncommon to see some people carrying lucky charms with them. Some ever got to wear on important days their special shirts or dress designated as lucky for them. Still it is not that strange to learn that some believers in luck perform little rituals before important events in their everyday life

Maybe it might be termed as superstition but these beliefs and practices remain prevalent in many societies in the world. It is said that westerners, particularly fearful of jinxing their luck, won’t walk under ladders while Chinese people generally avoid No.4 which they think is associated with death.

A friend of mine who had stayed for several years in a boarding school in Canada, at one time, told me about the belief of her friends at the boarder with regard to the relationship between a fortune and a four-leaf clover. The girls there did not attach any particular interest to the conventional clovers with three perfect leaves. However, they did put real treasure on the rarely-found four-leaf clover, which they believed would bring along good luck. Some even believed that luck doubles if the clover is given away on compassion.

But that friend of mine tends to be very logical and practically down-to earth. For her, to feel lucky in finding one is quite acceptable. However, other than that she did not really think, clovers having any influence on anybody’s luck nor on one’s life in a tangible way.

Not very long ago, I chanced to a read a clover-related luck incident in a journal. While one couple was waiting for an airport shuttle in Germany, the wife found a tiny four-leaf clover on a roundabout and tucked it into her passport. On the way home, the couple was upgraded to business class. Naturally their friends attributed their good luck to the clover but the couple had a more rational explanation to come up with. It just happened that the couple suffered a flight cancellation that left them stranded in two cities and a kind customer service representative took pity on them.

It is true that the world we live in seems like a stage, with everyone functioning in his or her own circle, sometimes true and actual events happening far stranger than fiction, bad luck and good luck taking up sudden twists and turns in a matter of seconds or minutes. There have been instances of a lucky nature unexpectedly turning out into an unlucky one. Similarly an event of bad luck for someone takes a sudden twist turning into a good luck one, blessing in disguise.

In Myanmar literature, the word ‘Karma” caries great significance for all Buddhists who believe in ‘Karma’ and its power and effects in shaping up the life of human beings. good luck, bad luck, his fate and everything, greatly influencing his destiny right from the very beginning since his birth. ‘Karma’ means deed or actions and the general belief is that if past Karma, done in previous lives is wholesome, present life would be good, both in mind and matter. If it is evil, so would be the present life.

Human nature is such that when life miraculously goes our way, most of us might assume it to be pure chance. Our greed pushes us, human beings, to wish for longer lasting luck. On the other hand, when it comes to bad luck, we need to remember the common saying: Misfortune never comes alone. Sometimes bad luck will linger for a bit longer during which time, all kinds of unpleasantness, adversity and sufferings could be bombarded one after another or simultaneously at almost the same time. That would definitely push the individual concerned to the brink of his tether and that exactly is the time for him to complain or argue with God. “Why Me?” ‘‘why pick me of all people. “Why it has to be me”. We tend to sort of quarrel with our fate.

From one of our greatly respected professors in our department, we, juniors came to learn that fate is not subject to negotiation, change or compromise. He added that whatever is to happen, will happen for sure. As we age, we realized how true his words seem to be. The advice that followed his lecture did sound even more convincing and note-worthy.

“Whatever be your fate, the lucky thing is we have a total freedom to react to it. It’s as if we are dealing a hand of cards. Once we’ve them, we are free to play as we choose”. Some experts on psychology encourage us to try to develop a “luck-personality” to create good fortune – a combination of attitudes and behavior that attracts opportunity. They say “Luck isn’t some mysterious force”. To a very large extent, we are responsible for much of the good fortune that we encounter. But for these experts, most of the lay people having grown up in ordinary families under ordinary and normal circumstances, would never know that negative emotions in us like shyness, anger and resentment pose as luck-limiting emotions and getting them under control will likely assist you to have a higher self-esteem level, be more optimistic and probably be “slightly more extroverted”. Besides, it’s always better to ‘defuse’ or overcome’ them before they are expressed.

Here I’d like to share the four habits experts have identified can set us all up for good fortune:

(1) Expect good things

(2) Court chance

(3) Look for silver linings

(4) Trust your instincts

In life, we never know what awaits round the bend nor could we predict what fate has in store for us. So it’s up to us, individually, to try to ride along whatever good or bad things we encounter on our life journey, and react in the best way possible. Whatever will be, will be!

With greater self-assurance, train yourself to be more trusting of people, more optimistic and share ideas more. Stay open to possibilities and never ever keep your great ideas locked up since it’s exactly where they will stay.

As one vocalist put in his song ‘nothing will come out if you just sit tight’, it won’t improve our luck if you stay stuck in a place. One time, I came across an interesting article in the Journal of Psychology about a technique called “planned happenstance”. I got the idea of what it is but did not remember anything about the author or other information. This technique is to embrace random events that happen and see their potential for improving one’s luck. In a way it is about to keep our options open, be prepared to make mistakes because we get more in life when we are willing to learn than by closing everything out. I want to encourage everyone to believe in fate and also to believe you make your luck if you are open to new experiences. Trust your instinct, your inner voice and follow your hunches. Meantime, and lucky charms, talisman, rituals or even prayers might be psychologically supportive!