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Newsletter - September 2007  
...It's unlucky...  
In my less than enlightened past (beyond the great riff), I had a partner who was superstitious. I merely had beliefs. Honouring someone else's beliefs can be very stretching under these kind of circumstances where one's own beliefs do not precisely match a partner's or indeed, other peoples beliefs. But one can honour and also test one and other's beliefs contained in superstitious wrapping.

At first I was mystified about the power of these sayings that bound people's behaviour, then curiousity led me to analyse the structure of superstitions and finally I created some for myself.

Is wearing underwear inside-out unlucky if one then puts it on the usual way?

Is it unlucky for a black cat to walk across one's path from left to right - but it's OK from right to left?

Will you spontaneously combust if you walk on the cracks in the pavement?

How on earth did these sayings come about?

My theory is there was a first instance when these circumstances really did happen, paralleled by a circumstance of unluck. So when someone goes through the same pattern, they can confirm the superstition. Of course, if nothing happens, the superstition is disregarded; it doesn't 'count'. "Something else lucky "must have happened" and it can be discounted. BUT NOT REFUTED.

It seems we are not {rational} beings but [rationalising] beings.

What might have happened is that two events may have occured at the same time - this is known as corroboration - but actually there is actually no direct connection or causal force between the two events, although one could 'rationalise' it as a mysterious force....

I decided to write down and analyse superstitions with the following result. There are two parts required for the corroboration:

1. A happening (x) and

2. An unlucky consequence, (y) represented by:

If x, y

x can be any situation, y can for example be: "It's unlucky".

Where x is the occurence and y is the promised mis-fortune. So I decided to make some up and try them out on my then partner:

#1 "You can't do that!"


Walk across the carpet on a Wednesday! It's unlucky!


#2 "Stop!"

(looks confused standing in the kitchen)

"You can't wear yellow; It's unlucky!"

(rolls eyes)

#3 "O-o-o-o-h, I wouldn't do that If I were you"

"Huh? ...I wasn't doing anything"

"Exactly! That is VERY unlucky!"

"Ha ha...Ve-e-ry funny".

So anything can be unlucky - if you wait long enough.

Now let's turn our attention from Unluck to Luck.

A survey carried out by the University of Hertfordshire found that 'lucky' people found their own luck by looking for it in their lives - whatever the circumstances. They have the ability to look for the positive in any situation good or bad.

You can do this too. In our model we can do that simply by changing the unluck in our belief system to luck.

So, for example:

It's lucky that I missed the bus
(because I shall get some exercise instead and found 20p! - 04/09/07)

It's lucky that I spilled some salt,
(because it reminded me to clean the floor.)

It's lucky I went back to university...

If I make my own luck... that's lucky!...

It's lucky... its your turn!...

An exercise in Luck:

From your recent past, think of both types of either 'challenges' and sucesses and see how you can link them with a 'luck' statement. Just fill in the gaps below:

1. After: It's Lucky - The circumstance

It's lucky .................... happened...

2. Then you can rationalise it by filling in the gap after because with a positive statment.


The only rule is that after because you are to think of any positive outcome from that situation. You are not being asked to alter what really happened or to negate any challenges or impacts, only for you to consider that there are both positive and other outcomes from circumstances and for you to realise for yourself, a probable lack of causal or linkage types of relationship between two actions.

For advanced thinking students, you can consider the validity of positive and negative labels outside the context of the user. And you can debate; If there is a natural cause-effect, is there any right or wrong?

It's lucky you read this!

More soon!



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