Good comment/question by Jeff on "Luck Doesn't Exist" -
I’ve thought about this a good bit as well, and I think you and I have quite a few similar thoughts on this topic (and others based on your reply above about “Everything is my responsibility”).
I’m not sure I want to enter the fray here, because as you and others have tracked down, there are semantic blurs regarding “Luck”. One has to distinguish between the Magical Thinking version of luck and the other. I’d wager that those siding with the Magical Thinking version don’t really have a clear understanding of the factual world of mathematical probability.
More semantic blurring is evident when one considers the common casual usage of “lucky” without literally believing in the Magical Thinking definition. It is often used (you could argue incorrectly) as a simple expression of appreciation for one’s situation.
Returning to the responsibility/accountability thing for a minute — be careful It’s easy to start thinking one is in complete control. How were you supposed to be prepared for the drunk woman who drove her car into your bedroom at 3AM and severed your arm with her bumper?
Something to consider: Contrast “lucky” with the word “fortunate”. Do you feel the same toward “fortunate”?
I agree on the probability and semantics points - well said.
To answer the other two questions, there are definitely forces outside your control. I think maximize everything within your control, and then things will happen. At that point, though, there's no real tragedy if things go wrong. If you've done everything you possibly can to maximize your chances of doing what you want with your life, it's no tragedy if freak circumstances conspire against you. So I'll answer - yes, there are forces outside of your control. But practically speaking, they don't really matter. Almost everyone is neglecting something they could be doing better to refine their situation, and that's what should be focused on. What's outside of your control is outside of your control.
Fortunate suffers the same problem as luck - the word actually descends from the Roman goddess Fortuna -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fortuna - the goddess of luck.
What other word is there? "Blessed" is one I use sometimes, but again suggests an outside force and isn't so good. Fortunate isn't so good, nor lucky. I think maybe the best way of talking about is highlighting that you, individually, feel grateful for the people that came before you. So I'll say, "I'm grateful my ancestors worked their ass off to get the world to where it is now, and the past scientists and mathematicians and builders and inventors and traders and explorers all did what they did."
That shows that our material circumstances descend directly from the hard work of humans that came before us. It's appropriate to be grateful for that. But again, I do reject luck as a meaningful concept. Unfortunately, there's no great word in English for "gratitude and acknowledgement of things that came before us" - lucky/fortunate/blessed is as close as you can get, and none of those are quite right. Yes, things are outside of our control sometimes. It's appropriate to be grateful to the people who came before us and built the world. But that doesn't mean we're lucky - it's all cause and effect, and probability.