Challenges Circumstances Coffee Break Fate stoicism

128 – Good Luck, Bad Luck, Who Knows?

Good Luck, Bad Luck, Who Knows?



“Man is affected, not by events, but by the view he takes of them.”

— Epictetus

Show Notes:

• Human beings are creatures that love good stories. Stories are the things that we use to make sense of the things in the world.
• Myths, such as the Greek and Roman or even Norse gods were used to explain why things happen in the world.
• Human beings like to give meaning to the things in their lives.
• It’s part of what makes us human. We give meaning to the expressions on other peoples faces. We give meanings to the words they speak.
• We attribute feelings and thoughts to animals even when we have no real idea of what their thoughts really are.
• One of the core tenets of Stoicism, is the understanding that events and circumstances are simply neutral. They have no meaning other than what we give to them.
• Things happen in life without any reason, which is hard because we as humans want to give meanings to events. We crave a reason. We crave a why. We want to believe that the hard things we go through have some greater purpose. Otherwise we feel that we suffer for nothing.
• For example, if we’re struggling with something, we can look at it as a struggle.
• But if we treat our challenges as opportunities to grow, then we haven’t suffered. We’ve grown stronger. It’s all about perspective.
• Years ago, I heard a great parable that illustrates well.
• A farmer finds a wild horse in his field. He’s able to lead the horse home and puts him in his stable.
• The neighbors upon hearing about the horse, congratulate him on his good luck.
• The farmer simply replies, “Good luck or bad luck, who knows?”
• The next day his son, while trying to train the horse, ends up being thrown, and breaks his leg.
• The neighbors upon hearing about the son, console the farmer on his bad luck.
• The farmer simply replies, “Good luck or bad luck, who knows?”
• The next day while the son is in the hospital, the representative from the emperor comes into town to draft conscripts for the army to fight on the border. His son is released from his obligation because of his broken leg.
• The neighbors upon hearing about his son missing the draft, congratulate him on his good luck.
• The farmer simply replies, “Good luck or bad luck, who knows?”
• After a week, the son comes home to finish recovering. While at the hospital he met a nurse and fell in love, and decided to get engaged.
• The neighbors upon hearing about the engagement, congratulate him on his good luck.
• The farmer simply replies, “Well, when it comes to marriage…good luck or bad luck, who knows?”
• Events and circumstances of life are neutral. It’s up to you to decide if you have bad, or good luck.

Photo by Amy Reed on Unsplash

Challenges Coffee Break Control Fate

120 – Are You Lucky?

Are You Lucky?

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

― Seneca

Show Notes:

– Are you a lucky person?
– The Stoics understood that most things in life are out of our control.
– The reason that they stress that ideas so much, that we try so hard to control things around us.
– Trying to control things outside yourself causes yourself and others a lot of suffering.
– Other people, events, and circumstances are certainly outside of our control.
– So much of our life is simply up to chance.
– The people we meet and become friends with and fall in love with.
– The jobs that we get because of being the right place at the right time.
– So many things that just happened by chance, and all of them outside of our control.
– In the Drunkard’s Walk, a book about the role of randomness and chance in our lives, Leonard Mlodinow, after showing example after example about how poorly we as humans misjudge the role of chance in our lives goes on to say, “…ability does not guarantee achievement, nor is achievement proportional to ability. And so it is important to always keep in mind the other term in the equation—the role of chance…What I’ve learned, above all, is to keep marching forward because the best news is that since chance does play a role, one important factor in success is under our control: the number of at bats, the number of chances taken, the number of opportunities seized.”
– If we want to meet a great partner it’s not going to happen if we stay at home playing video games or watching Netflix. We need to go on a lot of dates. We need to be able to carry on a conversation.
– If we want to be a musician or an actor, but we never practice, even if we hustle to get a coveted gig, if we aren’t prepared and we don’t have the skill to pull it off, then we’ve wasted an opportunity.
– I find that there is a lot of dedication on the internet for shortcuts to success. As if success is a bunch of hacks that you can do so you don’t have to put actual work in. But the thing is, taking shortcuts can cheat us of the opportunities for growth. We should become masters of our craft, not only because it prepares us to take those opportunities, but mastering our craft is part of the journey, it makes us who we are.
– And the more we become masters of our craft, the less we need “shortcuts”.
– We also need to be careful to never think think that we “deserve” something.
-Sometimes we think we are entitled to a certain way of life because who we are.
– Entitled to a certain job because of where we went to school.
– We are never entitled to anything.
– As Steven Pressfield said about creative endeavors, “We are entitled to our labors, but not the fruits of our labors.” Meaning we entitled to work our butts off and but we may still never find the success we think we deserve.
– As much as we all want a lucky silver bullet, because luck/chance/fate are all outside of our control, what we can control is consistently putting in the work.
– Fortune favors the bold, but she also favors the prepared.

Photo by Sergi Viladesau on Unsplash