The Choice of Luck

So, what if I told you that we all have more power over the experience of our reality than we give ourselves credit for? In fact, what if I told you that we have the capacity to radically and consequentially alter the very world in which we live with one simple decision . . . the choice of luck? But more on that in a moment.

Mindfulness instructor, Andy Puddicombe, teaches that the underlying bedrock of our emotional beings is a calm, peaceful state of ease, and that the turbulent emotions we experience (like fear, anger, anxiety, grief, etc.) are fleeting and pass us by. Andy believes that we don’t have to do anything to experience peace of mind; as he would say ‘it’s already here.’ The key is to allow ourselves to reach this place of calm at our own pace.

To illustrate his point, Andy oftentimes uses the analogy of the Blue Sky. The analogy goes something like this. Our calm and peaceful state of ease is like a clear blue sky that stretches across the entire dome of the sky, unblemished by anything. Our emotions, memories, and thoughts are like clouds that float above us, partially obscuring sections of the blue sky. Some clouds we like; they are pretty and don’t block that much sun light. Other clouds we dislike; they are dark and rainy and rob us of the beauty of the blue sky above. But no matter how stormy the day may be, eventually, and with no effort on our parts, the clouds break, the storm passes, and once again we behold the blue sky. Likewise, when we experience turbulent emotions, repetitive thoughts, and painful memories, eventually, and with no effort on our parts, they will break, the storm passes, and once again we behold that peaceful state of ease. Can we be patient?

I for one really like this lesson. I find it to be very helpful. It combats the unspoken belief in our culture that the only way to make things better is to relentlessly fix, work, strive, mend, do, do, do. On days when my sky is full of dark and menacing clouds, I try to remember Andy’s words and to think of the blue sky. Recently while swimming in the ocean, I thought about this important lesson and drew an interesting connection.

Some people like to swim at the beach and others do not. Some people are afraid of the sea, what with all of its sharks and crabs and scary looking creatures, while others dive right in and enjoy the refreshing salt water. Some people see the ocean and choose to think of all the dangers and risks; other people see the ocean and choose to think of all the fun and enjoyment. What do we choose to see?

In actuality, the ocean is both enjoyable and scary, fun and risky, refreshing and dangerous. Yes, there are sharks, yes, it’s possible to drown, and yes there are toxic pollutants, but there is also great fun to be had amongst the waves. It is both.

Let me ask you: have you ever met someone who describes themself as “lucky?” I have. I tend to really like these people. When Lucky People tell their story, it tends to have many interesting lessons, exciting adventures, and happy endings. Lucky People always seem to figure out what they want in life, to reach their goals, and to enjoy the journey along the way. Bad things happen to Lucky People, but they never really seem to get in the way all that much. Lucky People have a way of describing those experiences as “important growth opportunities,” or “significant learning experiences,” or even “vital wake-up calls.” Lucky People struggle, yes, but their stories always seem to find ways to incorporate challenges, obstacles, and sufferings in just such a manner that ultimately leads to enrichment, growth, relationship, empathy, and even joy. I for one really like Lucky People.

Have you ever met someone who describes themself as “unlucky?” I have. I tend not to enjoy spending time with these people. When Unlucky People tell their story, it tends to have lots of unforeseen pitfalls, dismal ordeals, and unhappy endings. Unlucky People never seem to figure out what they want in life, or reach their goals, and they never seem to enjoy the journey. Bad things happen to Unlucky People, and they always seem to get in the way. Unlucky People have a way of describing those experiences as “par for the course,” or “that’s the way it always goes for me,” or even “and to think I got my hopes up for nothing.” Unlucky People struggle, yes, and their stories always seem to find ways to incorporate challenges, obstacles, and sufferings in just such a manner that ultimately leads to resignation, isolation, jealousy, and even despair. I for one don’t really enjoy spending time with Unlucky People.

If living life were like a day at the beach, I think Lucky People would swim while Unlucky People would not. I think Lucky People choose to see the good, and I think Unlucky People choose to see the bad. But it’s time for me to come clean; I have a confession to make: there are no Lucky People or Unlucky People, there’s just people . . . just us, and we have a choice to make in life.

Andy’s Blue Sky lesson on mindfulness is so rich in deeper meaning, and I hope he won’t mind if I extrapolate out from his analogy to make my final point. We can choose to see the good things that happen in our lives like the blue sky; they are always there, we do not have to create them, they exist, and they will return to us if only we are patient enough to let them. We can choose to see the bad things that happen in our lives like the storm clouds; they are fleeting, always changing, just passing us by. Or we can choose to see the bad things in our lives like the blue sky and the good things like the clouds. It’s a question of perspective. It’s really a question of optimism versus pessimism. We get to decide. It’s a choice.

We do have more power over the experience of our reality than we give ourselves credit for, and we do have the capacity to radically and consequentially alter the very world in which we live with one simple decision. Are you a Lucky Person or an Unlucky Person? Is your blue sky made up of the good or the bad? In the beach-day of your life, are you going to take a dip?

It’s really just a choice . . . the choice of luck.

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