Saturday, April 16, 2016

Good Luck, Gratitude & The Common Good

Personal Fortune

Dr. Seuss: NPR writes in 2012, referring to an interview with Guy McLain, who works at the Springfield Museum in Geisel’s Massachusetts hometown: “McLain has become a local expert on Dr. Seuss. He says Mulberry Street might have never been published — if it hadn't been for a chance encounter Geisel had one day as he was walking home in New York City. ‘He bumped into a friend ... who had just become an editor at a publishing house in the children’s section,’ McLain explains. Geisel told the friend that he’d simply given up and planned to destroy the book, but the editor asked to take a look. He said if he had been walking down the other side of the street, he probably would never have become a children’s author. It was a moment that changed Geisel’s life.‘He said if he had been walking down the other side of the street, he probably would never have become a children’s author,’ McLain says.The book was published in 1937. It got great reviews, and the rest is history. ”
Photo Credit & Source: NPR

An article, by Robert H. Frank, in The Atlantic says that good luck (and its counterpart) plays more of a part in people’s lives than many, including the wealthy, would like to admit. And those that do so have a greater amount of gratitude than those who believe in the myth of the self-made man, thus having a tendency to see the benefits of the common good.

“Why Luck Matters More Than You Might Think” (May 2016), Frank says luck played a role in his survival from cardiac arrest and gave him cause to look into the subject:
My having cheated death does not make me an authority on luck. But it has motivated me to learn much more about the subject than I otherwise would have. In the process, I have discovered that chance plays a far larger role in life outcomes than most people realize. And yet, the luckiest among us appear especially unlikely to appreciate our good fortune. According to the Pew Research Center, people in higher income brackets are much more likely than those with lower incomes to say that individuals get rich primarily because they work hard. Other surveys bear this out: Wealthy people overwhelmingly attribute their own success to hard work rather than to factors like luck or being in the right place at the right time.
That’s troubling, because a growing body of evidence suggests that seeing ourselves as self-made—rather than as talented, hardworking, and lucky—leads us to be less generous and public-spirited. It may even make the lucky less likely to support the conditions (such as high-quality public infrastructure and education) that made their own success possible.
When people are prompted to reflect on their good fortune, they become much more willing to contribute to the common good.
True enough. Luck plays an important part in people’s lives, and, yes, even in the lives of the gifted, the talented, and the geniuses; and if you are among those fortunate enough to have a surplus of good luck, so much the better for you. Luck comes in many forms, including chance encounters and meetings with persons who could influence your life for the better. Consider the story of Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and his chance encounter with a friend (a book editor) while walking down a NYC street. His good fortune led to our collective enjoyment, as many parents worldwide can attest.

The annals of human history record many such similar chance encounters that were life-changing, to say the least. There are many more that are non-recorded, yet the anecdotes are the same. Good luck intervened or visited in some fashion. A turn here, a turn there; a delay here, a hurried response there, and things would have been different. The view of some, including the hyper-religious and the hyper-scientific, to downplay or deny the importance of luck, explains much of their political and socio-economic views of charity and of the common good. Yet, only a thoughtless fool thinks that he has complete control of his destiny.

The thoughtful person, on the other hand, is thankful with gratitude and shares his good fortune with others.

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For more, go to [TheAtlantic]