If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell you a story about my friend Grace. 

Five years ago Grace moved  from Connecticut to New York hoping to restart her life. High school had been rough for her. She had a back brace from scoliosis and social anxiety. On top of her genetic bad luck, her family lived on the edge of a semi-affluent town. So even though her parents could afford the taxes to send her to one of the more elite public schools in the state, they couldn’t afford the Tiffany bracelets, L.L. Bean backpacks and Juicy tracksuits that would make her ever feel part of the elite public school she attended. 

By the time she arrived in New York the back brace was off but so was her confidence. She had a fresh start but needed to believe it. So, in typical Grace fashion (her parents were residual hippies), she started seeing a shaman. A woman who would teach her how to work with the universe to attract the things she needed. 

I met Grace when she first started seeing this shaman and was not close enough, didn’t have enough history or time with her, to explain how I felt she was wasting her money. Shamans did not take insurance. Shamans weren’t the same as therapists. Shamans, I thought, were kind of a rip off. 

But Grace swore by hers. She said her shaman made her feel more in control of her life, her destiny, her energy. And anytime anything good happened, she attributed it to her shaman. When bad things happened, however, I didn’t have the heart to ask if that was also the shamans doing. Like when she was fired from her job at the marketing firm. Or when she found out her boyfriend was cheating on her. 

I will say, however, when these things happened, she didn’t react how normal people did. She didn’t cry, didn’t blame, didn’t think her life was falling apart. She accepted it all with stoic understanding and belief that it was all happening for a reason. 

The years with this shaman also cemented a firm belief in manifestation. When I’d talk to her on the phone and say things like “I just hope the book sells”, she’d correct me and say, “The book will sell.” Do not put questions in the universe, she’d advise me. Put commands.

And that became Grace. But to me, manifestations aside, Grace wasn’t any different. Her luck hadn’t really changed. She was still an assistant, working at a company she hated, uncomfortable in large crowds. The only difference I could see was she was more confident in her choices. More comfortable with the unknown. More grounded in her path. 

And then, five days ago, everything I thought about luck, Grace and manifestation was rocked to its core. 

At 12:45 pm on September 24, she was sitting in her makeshift office in her bedroom in Fort Greene when an email came in. The company she worked as an executive assistant at had finally gone public. And the stock options she’d accumulated the last three years, worth nothing the day before, were now worth $2.5 million. Overnight, the job she hated, the one she called me crying about, the one she wanted to quit, became her golden ticket. 

When she called me to tell me the news, I was eating homemade chicken noodle soup and the noodles sliding down my throat felt as slimy as I did. Because even though I was happy for her, a distinct feeling was bubbling up in the pit of my stomach. The same feeling I’d felt when my friend Sylvie moved to Paris and got that record deal. The conflicted feeling of happiness intertwined with jealousy. The feeling of ‘why her?’ 

She’d been at the company less than three years. She took the job without knowing they would go public one day. She hated the job. But the feeling quickly subsided when I realized that Grace’s story wasn’t one to be jealous of, but one to take heed of. One to draw inspiration and hope from. She was a reminder that at any moment, any day, your luck could change. 

Was it luck though? Or was it proof that manifestation, positive energy, worked? Were manifestation and luck the same thing? Or was manifestation just the art of attracting luck? I decided to do what I always do and see what other women had to say about it. Specifically, what successful women had to say about luck: 

I see my life as good, and I think, a lot of times, if you see your life as good, then that’s how it turns out. 

Anne Patchett

When I’ve least expected it, an enormous opportunity or stroke of luck has crossed right under my nose. 

Julie andrews

A combination of tenacity and luck brought me here today. 

Judy Sheindlin

Luck favors the brave. 

Elise Stefanik

People always call it luck when you’ve acted more sensibly than they have. 

Anne Tyler

I went to business school so what they teach you in business school was that success is about positioning yourself to get lucky. It’s not just about how hard you work. It is also about a little bit of luck. To position yourself to catch the luck when it comes. 

Jodie Turner-Smith

The consensus, it seemed, was that whenever anyone spoke about luck they also talked about hard work. And belief. Maybe the equation for luck is hard work plus hope. Consistent belief that if you keep showing up, keep trying, your luck will arrive. Grace’s luck came from staying at the job she wanted to quit. Believing that one day it would work out for her. Her story reminded me of that Aaron Allston quote, “Luck consists largely of hanging on by your fingernails until things start to go your way.” Maybe you could manifest good luck. Even better, maybe your luck was a direct result of your positive manifestations. 

I started thinking back to some of the things Grace used to say to me about manifestation. I looked back at old texts and emails she’d sent me. Most of them were from spiritual guru Esther Hicks. 

It is our desire that you become one who is happy with that which you are and with that which you have—while at the same time being eager for more.  That is the optimal creative vantage point: To stand on the brink of what is coming, feeling eager, optimistic anticipation—with no feeling of impatience, doubt, or unworthiness hindering the receiving of it—that is the Science of Deliberate Creation at its best.

Choose a thought. Pretend that’s already happened. Be excited about it. Watch what happens.

Whatever you’re thinking about is literally like planning a future event. When you’re worrying, you are planning. When you’re appreciating you are planning…What are you planning?

The basis of manifestation lied in our thoughts and the power of them to attract things into our lives. If you think positively, you attract positive things into your life. If you think negatively, you attract negativity. What I previously thought were blurry hippie mantras came into sharp focus when I read about how statistics show lucky people score low on neuroticism, which affects our levels of anxiety. Having a calm, relaxed approach to life, and not getting worked up when things go wrong, seems to have an impact on how lucky we are.

Since going to her shaman, since applying the laws of manifestation to her life, Grace had become less neurotic, and in turn, attracted more luck. So whether manifestation was real or not, it created real effects which opened you up to receiving real luck. 

Since hearing about Grace four days ago, I have come to the firm conclusion that luck is something you attract. And the things we attract are the things we put into focus. The things we work at. The things we believe in. And even if it doesn’t feel like good things are happening now, even if we can’t see them happening anytime soon, if we keep the belief that they will one day come, keep working even when we want to quit, keep believing when it seems pointless, our luck will one day arrive. It’s not a matter of science or spirituality, it’s a matter of staying positive until our luck changes.

Founder of Words of Women

One Comment

    • joanna.g.cohen

    • 1 year ago

    I love this and needed this reminder—thank you for writing it!

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