Gretchen Rubin

A Little Happier: I’m Lucky to Have a Mother Who Is Lucky.

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A while back, my mother had a milestone birthday, so we had a celebration for her. Among other things, we had a special family dinner, and we each made a toast.

When we were done, my mother stood up to respond. Of what everyone said that night, there’s only one part I remember clearly, and that was what she first said when she got to her feet.

She said, “I’m lucky, I’m a lucky person. I don’t know why I’ve been lucky, but I have been.”

One reason I remembered this was this was something I didn’t know about my mother. I didn’t know that she considered herself lucky.

In many ways, you’d say, yes, my mother is indeed lucky. But of course she has been unlucky too. And what is luck? The word starts to fall apart in my head as I try to think about it. Do we make our own luck? To some degree, yes, but not in every way. Is it unlucky even to talk about being lucky? It feels like it is! I’m not going to think about that.

But aside from these deeper issues about the nature of luck, what struck me was how lucky I was to have a mother who considered herself lucky. Because although she’d never said it before, she has communicated it to me in a thousand ways.

It made me so happy to hear her describe herself that way, it makes me so happy to think about it. I think it makes me even happier to have heard her say that, than if she’d said, “I’m happy.”

And I’ve been trying to figure out why. I guess because if she said she were happy, it would be great, because she’s happy, but it could also mean that she’d learn to make the best of things, to accept what she couldn’t change, and to be grateful. All good things!

But this is my mother. Of course I want her to be happy, but also want her to have even more than that, I want her to be lucky.

Also, for a child—even a very fully grown daughter like me—a parent’s perspective on the world matters so much. They help make our weather. I feel lucky to have a mother who considers herself lucky. I feel like I’m part of why she feels lucky. And that is a beautiful atmosphere for a child live in, at whatever age you are.

Are you lucky?

Research shows that when we think we’re in luck—we’re using a lucky golf ball or have our lucky charms with us—we actually perform better. As with so much in life, our expectations shape our attitudes and our actions.

I’m lucky to have a mother who is lucky.

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