Have you ever had a day where from the moment you wake up in the morning until the minute you rest your head on your pillow at night, nothing seems to go your way? You snooze your alarm too many times or sleep through it all together which leads you to hop in the shower 20 minutes late. Your boss calls with an excessive amount of work before you even leave for the office and on the drive in you get stuck behind a car going 10 miles per hour for the full duration of your trip. Finding a parking spot at the office lot takes longer than usual and by the time you get to work you are a half hour late, agitated, and on edge . Your coworkers are pestering you with additional responsibilities and the phone rings off the hook with others in need of your services and/or shit hitting the fan that you have to clean up. Everyone is in a bad mood, every sound bothers you, and the day grows worse. Your boyfriend and you have a fight or maybe he dumps you. You get held up at work past 5 o’clock and hit brutal traffic which results in you being late for your hair appointment. You try to think positively and be relieved that work is over only to find out that your friend got in a car accident and totaled her vehicle. Then the building where you are getting your trim goes on fire thus you are evacuated and made to wait in the cold while five fire trucks pull up to save the day. However, you manage to make it home in one piece—stunned and irritated, but alive—and you pass out in your bed due to exhaustion from the day as well as fear that if you stay awake more misery will come your way. This is what I call a Murphy’s Law Day. I seem to have them more often than the average person but everyone experiences at least one at some point in their life and yesterday I endured another one.
Murphy’s Law in the simplest terms denotes “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” While I don’t believe in magical thinking or forces beyond the realm of human and worldly capacity, I do think that sometimes there are coincidental situations in which a series of bad or good events comes your way. When everything seems to be working out for the worst, it is on those days that I find it best to avoid any major projects, important discussions, long drives, or new ventures. Whether these days filled with calamity are just happenstance or we perpetuate the chain of misfortunes by projecting our negative mood onto those around us and incite our own suffering, the outcome is the same—a series of disasters.
We certainly cannot stay locked up in our houses and become temporary agoraphobics because that is completely irrational and enduring the hardships of bad days is just part of life. However, I follow the “law of averages” in my life with virtually every situation I encounter. This belief can get you through the roughest of times by affording you with much needed hope, but it can also destroy your moments of happiness by provoking persistent dread for the day your luck runs out.
When the negativity in your life is compounding daily and your Murphy’s law day turns into a month or several months you may feel as though you are so neck deep in quicksand that you are beyond saving. Yet, believing that, at some point your luck will turn around because the law of averages cannot have life giving you lemons for eternity, can give you the strength to get through the seemingly habitual adversity. This conviction is sometimes all that keeps us going and helps us start a new day; and, sure enough, at some point the “curse” is broken and our existence improves. However, this positive belief can also be a detrimental fear.
While nearly everyone has endured ruts in their lives, perhaps not as many people have experienced the reverse scenario. There are certain periods of time where everything seems to be going perfectly. We have found love, work is actually enjoyable, and we have the most amazing and supportive friends anyone could ask for; yet, we are not fully happy. We understand that when everything is going well and our lives call for celebration we should be ecstatic and on cloud nine; however, the law of averages rule creeps in to our head and we are just waiting for the bubble to burst or to wake up from the dream. While these are the moments we should savor and revel in, we instead become riddled with or even consumed by anxiety. We analyze every situation and prepare ourselves for the worst to cushion the blow and save ourselves from the expected heartache and tribulations headed our way. Sure enough, our fortuity does not last forever and something unfortunate happens.
Ultimately, bad luck and good luck are not mystical forces or powers beyond humanity but rather, are just the byproduct of us adding significance to happenstance. Human beings like to find meaning in everything and categorize life’s daily occurrences in attempt to better understand and control the world around them. While we do have influence over much of the events in our lives and the right attitude can tremendously impact the outcomes of our actions, much of what happens to us is not the work of a formidable yet invisible power. The positive and negative aspects of our lives beyond what we directly incite are simply coincidences that cannot be explained and have no significance beyond what we what give them. So, I do not believe in luck, magic, or the supernatural and have grown to live my life by the opening lines of the serenity prayer:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
When I have a bad day I do what it is in my capacity to improve it and when the world seems to be working in my favor I am cautiously optimistic. I do not blame things on luck, I take pride in what I achieve, and I endure what misfortune comes my way the best that I can. When everything that can go wrong, goes wrong I chalk it up to Murphy’s Law, do not over-analyze the chain of mishaps, and just do what I can to make the day tolerable with the belief that the law of averages will turn things around—and, eventually, it does.