People have weird ideas about luck and hard work. We attribute to hard work the accretion of of systemic advantages. We attribute to luck random forces in the universe put into motion by the choices of other people over which we had no control. We also have weird ideas about what actions and choices create or destroy luck.
When someone is dubbed as being “lucky” it means that things have a tendency to work out for them. These events seem random when in reality they are often the result of a subsconscious ability to see connections or opportunities that the person with the ability doesn’t even realize they have. And no, I’m not talking about ESP or anything like that.
A huge portion of human communication is non-verbal. Amy Cuddy, a psychologist at Harvard University, has a popular TED Talk backed up by a peer-reviewed paper that shows how you can use your body to influence your level of confidence. But there is a difference between “power posing” to boost your confidence and the random things we associate with bad luck.
- Don’t pick up a penny that is tails up.
- Step on a crack, you’ll break your mother’s back.
- Never hang a horseshoe upside down.
- Spilled salt on the table? Quick, throw some over your shoulder!
- Friday the 13th is unlucky so don’t plan anything for that day.
- Don’t let a black cat crossing your path.
- Never walk under a ladder.
Those are just a few of the old saws about luck that I learned as a child. Only that last one about walking under a ladder makes any practical sense. Someone’s working up there and they might drop something. The rest are just plain superstition. Glancing at the calendar is what got me thinking about this.
Why do we consider 13 unlucky in Western culture? And why is a Friday the 13th considered particularly unlucky?
It all goes back to that lovely, lovely book of myths from a tribe most of us don’t belong to: The Bible.
Thirteen got its reputation for being unlucky because of the number of diners at the last supper, according to this article on MSN.com. Friday got its reputation in a similar way given that we are told the Romans crucified Christ on a Friday.
Apparently, we’ve based an entire belief about luck, something that doesn’t exist, on the much translated, politically motivated stories about a man who probably didn’t exist either.
You have to do you. I will continue to pick up pennies when I find them, pet friendly black cats, and refrain from throwing salt on my floor that I will just have to clean up later.
I’ll stay out from under ladders, though. No one needs a concussion.