I Feel Lucky

I feel lucky, I feel lucky, yeah
Think I’ll flip a coin, I’m a winner either way
Mmmmmm, I feel lucky today ~ Mary Chapin Carpenter

And Happy St. Patrick’s Day to ye. Or maybe, in a nod to the country song above, I’ll amend that to “ya’ll.”

Weird thing is, the “luck of the Irish” is kinda misunderstood. Holy Cross prof and Irish history expert Edward O’Donnell points out that the Irish have hardly been lucky; their country has endured over 1,000 years of invasion, colonization, exploitation, starvation and mass emigration.

The somewhat more positive phrase actually originated in America—and it wasn’t meant to be flattering. Seems that during the Gold Rush, some of the most famous and successful miners were Irish or Irish-American. When jealous would-be millionaires sneered of “the luck of the Irish,” what they really meant was that the Irish—not warmly admitted to this country—were such overwhelmingly stupid oafs that any success could only be explained by sheer, blind luck.

What is luck, anyway? Is it something that falls from the sky upon you, in the form of either blessing or curse? How many of you feel that others around you seem inexplicably and undeservedly lucky, while you, equally undeservedly, struggle? How many of the following statements sound familiar to you?

Some people have all the luck.
I just can’t seem to catch a break.
Maybe someday I’ll get lucky.
She got where she is by pure, dumb luck.

Me, I’m with Shakespeare, who famously wrote that “nothing is good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.” And I’m also with the divine Mary C. C., whose song essentially says that you are as lucky as you feel.

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Gratitude Without Attitude

It’s easy to be thankful when times are good. But what kind of pea-brained Pollyanna goes around feeling grateful for crappy stuff like illness, financial crises, and broken relationships?

Well…um…this kind, it appears. Now, wait. I’m no saint, and I’m just as capable as anyone of snapping at my kid, swearing at drivers who cut me off, and shaking my fist at the heavens, Job-like, over a cascading series of setbacks.

But over the years, I’ve noticed something. Although it’s normal—even necessary—to get angry or grieve when life throws a big spitball, getting stuck there serves no one. When we are blind to whatever gift might be contained in the grief, we are unable to move on—and we end up feeling even crappier.

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