Don’t mistake them for lotteries

Several aspects of our well being are probabilistic – our relationships, our health and our happiness for instance. Luck does play a role in sustaining them. Yet, take this sentiment too far and we end up treating them like lottery tickets even when they aren’t.

A marriage or any other relationship isn’t a lottery. We do not choose our relatives, but we can choose the person we marry as well as our circle of friends. Yet, when we take a deliberate approach at cultivating relationships, society frowns upon this as being calculative or unromantic. It is more socially acceptable to leave these things to chance – to believe that happy couples are lucky and that deep friendships flourish without effort.

Our health isn’t a lottery. Sure, some people are innately healthier than others. But every human being is given a wide spectrum of health outcomes that are tied to their lifestyle choices. The better we understand how wide this spectrum is, the more we realize how much influence we have over our health.

Happiness isn’t a lottery, although it does seem to be that way. Happiness eludes millionaires and celebrities even as it embraces the simple, the ordinary and in rare cases, the poor. However, happiness, like any other skill, can be mastered with practice. The happy people in this world stay happy through a steady stream of conscious effort.

The cornerstones of our well-being are probabilistic, but they aren’t lottery tickets. Once we buy a lottery ticket, no matter how what we do, our odds do not budge. Cultivating our well-being is more like playing a game of skill. Chance does play a role, but with training and deliberate practice, we get better every day.

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