A matter of luck

The belief that some are born lucky is rather widespread. It gets hold of the mind when one sees others reaching high levels of achievement. But what is ‘luck’ and what is the role that it plays? 

A talented sculptor was a happy man until he was summoned to the King’s palace to erect a statue. Never had the poor man seen such luxury before. Everything he set eyes on was absolutely magnificent. How lucky the king was! He wished with all his heart that he were king instead. When his work was complete, the King told him he could have any reward he wanted.  Uppermost in his mind was his secret wish, but even before he could begin to think, his spirit left him and he entered the body of the King. An unknown force had made them change places. Overjoyed, the sculptor slipped into his new role.

He thoroughly enjoyed getting his smallest desires fulfilled. But soon, he found his duties very onerous. He lost all peace of mind. To seek relief, he decided to go the mountains he loved so well. His men carried him there in a palanquin. Suddenly, several boulders came crashing down. His servants fled leaving him battered and bruised on the ground. He looked up and muttered, ‘Oh mountain, you are so much more powerful than I am! I wish I were you!’

 At once, his spirit leapt out and, leaving his body behind, he became one with the mountain. Then came the tap and clink of tools. It was a sculptor at work. His passion for his art re-awakened, the man sighed, ‘A sculptor is even more powerful than a mountain. Only he can cut into it. How I wish I was a sculptor again.’ To his relief, his spirit sprang out and entered the sculptor who was none other than the King! The exchange that took place now was a happy one.

This is of course a fable, but it contains many truths. There is no doubt some people are born with great advantages. We covet their skills, their wealth or their lifestyle. However, to make this a habit of mind is for several reasons pointless and damaging.

To begin with, we see only what is apparent. For instance, the wealthy may be having trouble preserving their riches. The successful have a hard time climbing the ladder or perhaps face serious problems. It is well worth considering too whether others envy you. They may well be happy to change places with you. It would make better sense to count your blessings and enjoy the happiness this brings.

Most important of all, envy is highly corrosive. It eats away at not only the image of others but also that of the person who harbours it. Valuable time and energy are lost in wishful thinking. True happiness and success come from realising that what could be is far less important than what you have and can be. As Thomas Jefferson rightly pointed out, ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get.’

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