My husband insists we have a traditional IRISH meal for St. Patrick’s Day. Contrary to popular belief, this does not involve green beer, corned beef, or boiled potatoes. He plans to cook bacon (Americans call this ham) and mashed potatoes with cabbage. He will proudly wear his Irish shirt, don the leprechaun hat, and share the luck of the Irish with all Americans today. However, he would be the first to admit that the luck is not something you are born to receive. He admits it is the way he views his world, seeing all things as a wonderful gift.
Last Friday, Friday the 13th, was an unlucky day for my Irish husband…or maybe it was a lucky day? It all depends on how one looks at the situation. Frankl (2006) insists our last great freedom is to choose our attitude towards a thing. My husband chose to view it as fortunate.
I was downstairs, sipping coffee and researching my next blog post (this one) when I heard a loud thud. Knowing my husband was the only one in the house with the children were at school, I waited to hear the inevitable expletive that most people say when they fall and hurt themselves or drop something. It did not come. This began to worry me, so I started for the stairs with coffee and iPad in hand. The next thud made me run up the stairs, not caring how much coffee spilled out of my cup.
My husband stood in the bathroom, his face covered in blood, looking quite dazed. Our master bathroom is luxuriously tiled with marble (which shall be known from this point forward as the stupidity of wealth) but it becomes as slick as ice when it is wet. I asked him what happened. He said he slipped on the wet floor and slammed eye first into the bathtub, (also tiled in the stupidity of wealth.) As he struggled to get up, he fell a second time and hit his ribs. I took one look at my husband’s face, I handed him a towel to press on it and quickly sought out a Band-Aid to cover the two-inch gash above and along his eye. I told him the Band-Aid was just to keep the little cut from oozing, but I knew how bad the cut was. It was not something a Band-Aid would or could fix. Fortunately, luck was in our favor, as my husband had a doctor’s appointment already scheduled in 15 minutes for another reason.
We headed out for the doctor’s office. I reassured my husband the doctor may be annoyed that she was taking out one stitch (for a previous biopsy) only to put another one in above his eye. I suggested maybe she could use the previous one to save money. He laughed. It was good that he didn’t know how bad it was, I suppose. The nurse saw the blood trickling down my husband’s face and took him to an examination room after seeing how the gauze was failing to contain the blood. Today, the doctor just happened to have two other doctors who did not have any patients to see. He came in and spent the next hour patching up my husband. I told my husband that he looks a lot like Rocky Balboa now. He seems to like the association.
Heitler (2012) believes luck is based on perception. In her article, she likens bad luck to psychological reversal that causes a person to sabotages his success. She suggests a combination of kinesiology and emotion focused therapy (termed Emotion Code) as a method of reversing the psychological reversal. The end result is very similar to Greenberg’s (2012) emotion-focused approach to managing depression. Find the area in the body where the tension exists, link it to another time in the past when a similar feeling occurred, and work through the experience. The bad luck is recognized as a subconscious choice in the mind of the individual as a means of continuing the negative experience. After working through the elements that contributed to the perpetuation of the experience, a new way of seeing life emerges.
Luck seems to be a matter of which attitude you choose. My husband is from Ireland, and he really does have the luck of the Irish. To him, the fall was just a stupid accident, but the good fortune was having it happen right before he was scheduled to see a doctor. Anyone else might have seen the day as an ominous sign for bad luck, but not Mike. He chose to see the fortune in the situation. Two days later, as he examined the eye with the swelling gone, he mused how tempting it is to do the same to the other eye in order to get a cheap eye lift! It is all in the way you look at it, I suppose.
Some people, like my husband, are conditioned to see the good in a situation and attribute it to their good fortune. While my husband does not find the pain very fortunate, he found the situation to be so. Perhaps the social expectation that all people from Ireland have good luck contributed to his attitude. This is another thing that makes the Irish way of celebrating St. Patrick’s Day different to the American way. Many go to church to give thanks for all their blessings. The attitude of gratitude, combined with their conscious choice to view the world positively is what makes the Luck of the Irish real.
So, on behalf of my Irish husband and my entire Irish family, may you have the luck of the Irish today and always.
Frankl, V. E. (2006). Man’s search for meaning. New York, NY: Beacon Press.
Greenberg, L. (Director). (2012). Working through depression With emotion-focused therapy session 2 of 2 [Motion Picture]. Retrieved from https://psyctherapy.apa.org.ezproxy.humanisticpsychology.org:2048/view/16…
Heitler, S. (2012, February 16). Bad luck, bad choices or psychological reversal? Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/resolution-not-conflict/201202/bad-…
— Maria Taheny