Well-Being Hawaii Asks: Do You Feel Lucky?

Saint Patrick’s Day has long been thought of as a day for luck, whether you have Irish heritage or not. I’ve searched for four-leaf clovers, toted around rabbit’s feet and folded up dollar bills in the shape of frogs. I’m not sure if I necessarily believed that these charms would bring me luck but I had fun with the novelty of it all. Plus I always figured “hey, it can’t hurt, right?” As it turns out, there are two sides to this coin.

Luck is based on a concept of success or failure determined by forces outside your control – superstition. The National Institutes of Health has published studies linking superstitiousness to obsessive-compulsive disorder. On the other hand, there are also studies that suggest the belief in lucky objects can boost your confidence and even enhance performance.

For a professional opinion, I sat down with Dr. Jenny Unno-Lee. She is a licensed mental health counselor, providing play therapy services for families and children in Central and Leeward Oahu.

In her experience, she said “[Luck] is just not a term that is thrown out anymore.” Unno-Lee added, “I don’t know if parents don’t talk to their kids about having bad luck or what … but I’ve never had any kids talk about luck.”

She also remembers the brightly-colored rabbit’s feet, the troll dolls and some of the other “lucky” charms from our youth – like me, she also grew up in the 80s. Unno-Lee suggested perhaps the concept of luck has faded like a passing trend, just like the aforementioned trinkets.

So what are parents telling their children in place of good or bad luck? Unno-Lee said they are mostly likely saying, “You are responsible for your behavior, you need to control your body – it’s more of what you can control, it’s not up to the universe.” 

When speaking to children, Unno-Lee said it’s important ask, “What is the energy you’re bringing out – if you walk around with a grumpy face and being sad all the time, what do you think is going to happen?” She said these types of questions help a child determine what their worldview glasses look like, which is influenced by one’s own energy. 

I put the question of, “Do you believe in luck?” out into the universe – by “universe,” I mean Facebook. Here are some responses:

Jeané: I do believe in luck, but I have no logical reason why. I guess believing in it just makes me feel good, and it's the last bit of "magic" I still hold onto from childhood. I wear a gold ring with a tiger's eye stone on it ... because I read somewhere that it brings good luck to Leos, and it has to be worn on my right side "cast in gold."
Chad: I had a lucky money envelope in my wallet for like seven years. Then I had to open it to get some money. A couple months later, I lost my wallet.
Kevin: I thought I was really lucky because of my Ali'i bloodline but my wife, Amy thinks it's primarily karma ... either way sometimes I do get lucky but my best luck comes in having friends like you guys and gals!
Derek: I carry a lucky clover in my pocket that my mother gave me after her trip to Ireland last year.
Chris: While I don't believe in luck, I do believe that positive thoughts lead to positive results. I rub a “lucky” hockey puck and say a positive thought before any big life event.
Samantha: I do believe in luck. I call it, "Fate." If you believe in fate and have positive thoughts all around, good things will come! I learned and lived it. You have to first believe in fate to receive luck. For me, just believing is my luck routine. Otherwise it wasn't meant to be at that time.
Lisa: No, I believe that we make our own luck. Each decision, each strategic move gets you closer to your goals. It's part momentum and part statistics. Even the lottery is about numbers.
Linda: Yes and no. You know, God is in control and well, so are you when you get down on your knees to pray ... it changes everything! God’s plan often has the air/feels like luck but it's just His grace.
Joyous: I believe in karma ... treat others as you wish to be treated. That being said, I was brought up to follow all the Japanese rituals for New Year's. I even have an omamori (good luck charm) in my car so I avoid accidents. I also carry an evil eye (nazar) that my friend got for me on her trip to Greece - it's supposed to ward off or repel against the evil eye.
Sarah: I do when I'm lucky, haha. I believe in Karmic opportunity more than good or bad luck.
Perie: I believe in fate. IT will happen, if it is meant to be. We cannot change what is destined. I always carry a rosary. It is not for good luck, but to ward off bad things from happening.
Joy: I do believe in luck or being lucky. For over a year, I was on a lucky streak. I do have one thing I do, I always wear the same necklace when I tape a show for good luck because of who gave it to me.
Kylie: I don't rely or put much stock into luck, but I believe in lucky symbols. So much that I got my good luck symbol tattooed on me and frequently have friends rub it for good luck. I like to believe more in the idea that if you are positive and put out positive energy and vibes, they will come back to you. By keeping a good luck charm close to you, it reminds you to stay positive.
Makana: I don't know if it's luck, fate, karma or God’s blessings, but I feel I've been on a lucky streak pretty much my whole life. I pray and affirm and thank God and express gratitude and appreciation as my rituals to keep the blessings coming.

Whether luck has gone out of style or perhaps goes by a new name like “karma,” it’s hard to tell. Life isn’t easy and if believing in something can get you through the day, then more power to you. Just remember to behave with moderation. Dr. Unno-Lee said there are signs of when believing in luck can be become unhealthy. When it starts to impact their daily functioning, it’s time to seek help.