All Bad Luck is Good Luck

All Bad Luck is Good Luck


Chapter 18 / 53: In Chapter 18 of the Enchiridion, Epictetus explains how we ought to think about "bad luck" signs, and whether anything can be truly unlucky.

Enchiridion Chapter 18 / 53

When you go about your life, there may be things that happen that hint at bad luck.

Perhaps you have planned to do something next week and someone tells you it is likely to rain on that day.

Maybe you have applied for a job, and afterwards someone tells you that they know of a person who applied and they are very competent.

You might be exercising and hear an ominous click in your knee, which makes you wonder if you have some kind of permanent injury.

On a more superstitious level, you might break a mirror or walk under a ladder—classic signs of “bad luck.”

If you ever encounter a sign of bad luck, do not be alarmed.

As soon as you feel the immediate worry come up, say at once:

This sign has no significance for me. This could affect my body, possessions, family, or reputation, yes. But not me.

These are all things that are not within our control as discussed in Chapter 1, and are therefore no real concern to us.

Instead the correct response is to say to yourself:

For me every sign is a good luck sign, if I want it to be, because, whatever happens, I can derive some benefit from it.

If you hear a raven croak inauspiciously, do not be alarmed by the impression. Make a mental distinction at once, and say, ‘These omens hold no significance for me; they only pertain to my body, property, family, or reputation. For me every sign is auspicious, if I want it to be, because, whatever happens, I can derive some benefit from it.’