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Dear H,

I believe that the key to happiness is feeling lucky. Feeling lucky is not just feeling grateful. The idea of gratitude is something that we grasp intellectually with our mind, something that we know and recognize by thinking about our circumstance. Feeling lucky, in contrast, is something that we feel in our body. We might recognize with our mind that we are grateful for something, or that we ought to be grateful for something, but to experience true happiness is to feel it in our body. I believe that the closest description of that feeling is "feeling lucky" or, equivalently, the feeling of being lucky. The gratitude that we grasp with our mind might transfer to our body, but that the feeling our body feels is better described as "feeling lucky" and is much closer to what we can recognize as happiness.

Feelings in our body are deeper than what we can grasp in our mind, but they don't last as long. However, we can will feelings into our body easier than we can will feelings into our mind. After we recognize the feeling of luck in our body and associate the feeling with the description of "feeling lucky", we can use that description to will that feeling into our body, which we can then use to accomplish difficult or challenging tasks.

We tend to be grateful for much broader objects and ideas than what we feel lucky for. I'm grateful, for example, on a week-to-week basis for my friends, family, health, and prosperity. However, on a day-to-day basis, I feel lucky for much smaller things, like the time I get to exercise, the fresh clothes I get to wear, and the bountiful food that I get to eat. The small things in life are what make me feel lucky, and they are what makes life worth living.

Much of gratitude comes from the cognitive act of knowing possibilities, but much of happiness and feeling lucky comes from the physical feeling of having lived through them and recognizing that we are not living in them:

  • When I'm at the gym, I feel lucky that I have equipment, time, energy, and discipline to exercise because I know that I could be living overworked or underpaid where I don't have any of these.
  • When I'm at work eating the lunch that my job provides, I feel lucky to have a job that provides me with substantive pay and nourishing meals because I know I could be living without enough money and food to eat.
  • When I lay in my bed, I feel lucky to have one that's comfortable and quiet enough for me to rest and sleep because I know that I could be living in a cramped and noisy living space.

When I sit in the mundanity of life at the gym, work, or even in front of my lunch, I take a moment to feel lucky and to appreciate the circumstances that I find myself in because I know they have been and could be so different.

Feeling lucky for the benefits we receive in life is logically possible and consistent with the ideas of ambition and hard work. We are lucky when working hard helps us reach our goals because there's many people whose circumstances don't allow their hard work to reach their goals. No matter how hard they work, they still don't reach their goals because their circumstances don't allow it. Payoff is something we are lucky to have, not something we deserve. We are lucky to have opportunities to work hard, and to have opportunities where our hard work pays off and makes a difference. When I don't feel like working hard or exercising because I'm tired and lazy, I remember they are opportunities that I'm lucky to get to do. I can will "feeling lucky" into my body and back into my mind, then use my mind power to push through the tiredness and laziness. I can feel happy in my suffering because I am lucky to suffer in these ways and not others.