Chance; it’s a fine thing

A colleague’s status update on Facebook caught my eye and set me thinking earlier and it’s got me a little annoyed. He basically commented that “Go in thinking positive things and good things will happen”, but in reference to his students and how his lessons wernt today.

I’m annoyed because I’ve heard this before and while I would agree that a positive attitude is a good place to start the day, I don’t believe that it’s an automatic process that being positive brings on good things. Oh, I do think it can turn around a bad day and all that jazz. But I don’t believe that you create your reality this way. I’ve had loads of times where I have started out thinking positively and then everything has just gone wrong and turned out badly. I’ve also had many times where I’ve thought beforehand the day was going to go badly(like yesterday) and it’s turned out brilliantly (again, like yesterday)

I think it’s pretty much a matter of chance; a whole host of things beyond my ken and beyond my control. And it upsets me when people preach or are smug about “being positive” because once more it throws it back onto blaming myself when things don’t go well. You can do all the right things and nothing works; who do you blame then?

If I give a slightly different example it might help. When my daughter was a baby and a toddler, she was one of those kids that didn’t sleep. She did not sleep through the night, reliably till she was past five or six (actually, she doesn’t now but these days she gets on with it herself!) But I was among a lot of other parents whose kids did sleep and did do all the things they wanted them to do, so I had to listen to them crowing about what wonderful parents they were and how their bedtime routine was perfect blah blah blah. It didn’t matter that I had tried everything in all the books and a few more less orthodox things I found elsewhere. Nothing made any difference. I had a brief moment of glory when one mum had a second child who refused to play by their rules and made life hell for them; this lady had to admit to me that she’d thought that her first child was “good” because of what she and her husband did for it, and that now she could see  it was nothing to do with her and it was all down to that first child being an easy child.

It’s like that with life, really. Sometimes it all falls neatly into place and things work. And other times, every damn thing that can go wrong, does go wrong and no amount of positive thinking can change that. It can help get you through, I admit that but only because you tend to be thankful for small mercies. I came home from one awful day at work last year and all I could say was, “Well, nobody died!”

My colleague is a nice chap and is always cheerful but I do wish he and others wouldn’t assume that things going well is down to them in some mystical way. Logic being what it is, I do wonder if people who think like that also think that things going wrong are somehow their fault but my experience is that they never do.

Life happens. Shit (pardon my French) happens. It’s actually quite rare that it’s anything much to do with us, good or bad; we’re just collateral damage.

4 thoughts on “Chance; it’s a fine thing

  1. If your colleague belives that how his day went was purely down to his positive attitude I totally agree with you. I don’t believe anyone has the power to make changes that rapidly. I also find myself slightly annoyed when people preach that a positive attitude is the key to everything mostly because I used to do that in a time where I believed everything I read as being true! You only have to look at the title of my blog for confirmation of that!! I hope I am slightly wiser now.
    The Phrase “The Law of Attraction” has been abused and misused to an unbelievable extent, largely thanks to “The Secret”
    I do however still believe there is an element of truth in the concept that we may have a degree of power to create at least some of our reality. I have experienced the negative side of it more than the positive, mostly in hindsight.
    When I wrote the letter to my parents before my job interview I followed a voice or an instinct and I don’t believe that act alone resulted in me being offered a job. What I didn’t mention in that post was the amount of time I spent doing the interview in my mind beforehand. Anticipating the questions they’d ask me and what response they’d expect. Also the time I spent studying the company, their vision, their history and their products.
    I think that part had something to do with the result I got, in which case we may have some influence if we are willing to put in the effort.

    Sometimes shit does happen and I think when it does (at least from where I am right now) it could be nothing more than a lesson.


    • I agree entirely. Preparation is vital; it was the whole, be postive and everything else just kind like you know, happens, side of things that gets me irritated.
      Shit does indeed happen. Today is a prime example. Two coaches and a minibus set off in good time for St. Pancras. Not one of us made it there in time. First there were appalling roadworks, then London ground to a total halt when King’s Cross, and St. Pancras and their assocated underground were shut, the Euston road blocked by a helicopter, two ambulances, a fire and rescue vehicle, innumerable police and cars and all the usual traffic. Euston road was gridlocked for its entire length. In the end, myself and the other courier jumped out of our coaches and ran(more or less) up the Euston Road and got to St. Pancras on foot to find our students. I understand a suicide had taken place. I’m not convinced this was the real reason because it did seem OTT but we’ll probably never know what really happened. Anyway, I’m home now hours later than I ought to be”!!


  2. There is a LOT of chance operating in this world. And as you aptly noted, “Shit happens.” Attitude helps us to navigate through the shit with more or less success depending on the attitude taken. Attitude doesn’t create reality, it only helps to moderate the reality that one comes upon.


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