How Lucky Can You Get?
Is there more to luck than blind chance?
Napoleon Boneparte, on being told the virtues of a new general - the man's heroism, bravery, skill in battle and so on - waved his hand impatiently. "That's all very well," he said, "but is he lucky?"
Napoleon regarded luck as a personal attribute rather than a matter of chance. A lucky person would always win out over adverse circumstances, he believed, whereas an unlucky person - even a general who was expert in the techniques of war - was fated to meet with failure and disaster on the battlefield.
Skeptics, of course, pour scorn on the idea of personal luck, and many would claim that people make their own luck, and that success is the reward for hard work, persistence and the good fortune to be in the right place at the right time.
And of course there is a great deal of truth in this.
Yet it is also undeniably true that there are certain people who are lucky in everything they do, and who always seem to be in the right place at the right time. We say of such people that they "always land on their feet", or that they have "the devil's luck".
On the other hand, there are individuals who seem to be "jinxed", or "accident prone", and, even though they may be industrious, clever, persistent and so on, invariably fail in everything they set out to accomplish.
Some parapsychologists believe that personal luck has to do with whether a person has positive or negative ESP. The theory is that ESP is a primitive survival mechanism which helps us to avoid dangerous or unpleasant situations. Research has shown, for instance, that there is almost always fewer passengers than there would normally be aboard planes and in trains that crash, which suggests that people still possess this "psychic avoidance" faculty. It has been suggested that in some individuals this ability works in reverse, steering them towards negative situations. In other words people who are always "unlucky" may be using their disaster avoidance "radar" to seek out dangerous and destructive situations, perhaps because of some deep-seated unconscious need to fail. A person may consciously want to succeed, yet subsconsciously fear the responsibility and the lifestyle changes that success might bring.
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