Last weekend my mother-in-law said something that made me realize how many years I’ve been writing this column. Five.
Five is my lucky number.
When I was pregnant with my firstborn, my husband and I included a tiny white sleeper with the number five on it as part of his parents’ Christmas present. They opened it and immediately knew what it suggested: they would be having a fifth grandchild.
Throughout my pregnancy, the number five, or multiples of it, kept showing up, and when Sam was born at 5:55 pm on the 25th day of August in the year 2000 measuring 55 cms, he was placed in a hospital baby bed with the number five on it.
I had never felt superstitious before, but this number seemed extra special to me after his birth. I decided this was my lucky number, probably in a similar way that people choose a symbol that is considered lucky to them.
“It’s also the year of the horse,” Sam later reminded me, referring to the Chinese calendar. “And you’re a horse.”
Double the luck, I thought to myself. But I’ve felt good fortune for a long time.
Not only have I always had a roof over my head, shoes on my feet and food in my fridge, but I’ve had the love and support of family and friends, too. I also now understand that the luckier I feel, the more luck I have.
But what is luck anyway? Isn’t it just a feeling of gratitude for what we already have?
“No,” my friend disagreed. “It’s about winning stuff. And I never win anything. Ever.”
“I feel like I’ve won the life lottery,” my other friend chirped cheerfully. The first pal grimaced at that remark.
Both of these fine human beings appear equally blessed in many ways, but one of them admittedly pays a lot more attention to what’s going wrong in life rather than what’s right and good. The cheerful chirper does the complete opposite.
I try to be more like her.
The basic premise of this column when I first started writing it years ago was to share whatever was on my mind that particular week, and to write it from a positive perspective. That’s still my goal.
While keeping upbeat wasn’t easy during my more difficult days, it’s been a good exercise in teaching myself to be more of an optimist and less of a pessimist – something I’ll always have to work on to some degree.
But I believe it’s well worth the effort. Not just because of the mounting research that an appreciation for life helps to protect us against the negative effects of stress – decreasing illness and allowing us to live longer – but also because our quality of life is clearly more enjoyable when we have a positive outlook.
“It’s all about attitude,” my second friend said. “A healthy, beautiful millionaire living in a mansion can be a hateful crank, while a less fortunate person struggling to make ends meet could feel happy to be alive.”
When my first friend said he’d rather be the miserable millionaire I had to point out the obvious: all three of us are rich compared to the billions of people in the world living in abject poverty. Instead of comparing our lives to those who appear better off than us, why not do the reverse?
Gratitude feels infinitely better than bitterness and resentment. It also attracts good luck.
Like the luck of understanding that no matter who we are or what we have, we’re all capable of feeling joy, love and happiness if we’re open to it. That gift is an abundance of wealth all on its own.
Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at www.LoriWelbourne.com