A Brief History of Luck
According to Wikipedia, the word "luck" first appeared
in English during the 1480s. It came from the German or Dutch
"luk," which was a shortened form of "gelucke."
It is speculated that it entered the language as a gambling term,
as a way to describe an event that is improbable, whether good
Although in general luck, whether bad or good, describes things
that are beyond one's direct control or intention, there are
really two ways that the concept has been understood. The first
is as a deterministic and even supernatural force. This understanding
is what people are typically referring to when they say that
they either believe or do not believe in luck. This is the prescriptive
sense of the word.
In the descriptive sense, people simply use the concept to
describe improbable events after the fact. In other words, when
something happens that seems unlikely we call the occurrence
lucky or unlucky. This use of the word is really no different
than saying something is fortunate or unfortunate, at least at
this time (in old English "good fortune" had implications
of divine blessing and prosperity, rather than the more general
sense of any beneficial effect without attribution to a causal
That's a short explanation of the historical development of
the concept. For the purposes of this website and my book, I
define luck only in the descriptive sense. In other words, there
are occurrences that we did not expect that are bad for us, and
we call these "bad luck," while those that benefit
us we call "good luck." I do not believe in the prescriptive
sense of it being a supernatural force.
Buddha, the historical founder of Buddhism, told his followers
to disregard the idea of luck as a prescriptive matter. He said
all things which happen must have a cause (and this was taken
to mean either material or spiritual cause). Despite this, today
in many predominantly Buddhist countries there is a strong belief
in luck as a force of some sort. For example, in Thailand many
Buddhists may wear lucky amulets (usually blessed by monks),
which are meant to either bring good luck or prevent bad things
But if we stick to the descriptive sense, if we simply take
good luck to mean good things that happen, we can begin to look
at causes and contributing factors. Lucky amulets are almost
certainly not a cause. This is where we leave behind the history
and begin to explore the "science" of luck. What causes
some people to have more fortunate events affecting their lives,
and what causes the opposite?
That's what "Secrets of Lucky People" looks at in
detail. It includes research that has been done in many places.
When servers smile customers tip more, for example, a simple
example of usable information that can cause one to be the luckiest
waiter in the restaurant. People find new and interesting jobs
more through acquaintances than friends according to the research,
suggesting that your next lucky break is more likely to come
sooner if you have a wide variety of acquaintances.
Those are but a couple examples of information you can use
to start your own history of a luckier life. If you arrange your
circumstances, time and finances in certain ways we can predict
that you'll have more unpredictable good things happen. That
may sound contradictory, but it isn't. In a casino no one can
predict with certainty who will win which hand of poker or spin
of the roulette wheel, yet we can predict that the casino will
win in the long run, because the odds are in their favor. You
can arrange things so they are in your favor as well.
How to Get Lucky
Good Luck Test
What Is Good Luck?
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