Dennis Prager

But whatever one's view of God's role (except that He directs every single thing that happens), luck permeates life.

My parents were married 69 blissful years. I asked them and many other couples who had long and happy marriages what was the secret to their marital success. And the answer boils down to ... good luck. Virtually every person involved in a long and happy marriage -- long and unhappy marriages don't count -- simply had the good fortune to find the right person for themselves. That is why happily married couples are usually more understanding of those who divorce than unhappily married ones are. (The latter often resent the fact that others left bad marriages while they remain unhappily married.)

As for the notion that "we make our own luck" through hard work and responsible living, it is only partially true. You can do all the right things in life and still not end up successful. And many people do a lot of wrong things and end up quite lucky. I know great parents who have a very troubled child, and dysfunctional parents who have magnificent children. I will never forget overhearing someone say to my father after I gave a lecture, "You must have been a terrific father to produce such a son." And my father simply answered, "I was lucky."

So where does all this power of good and bad luck leave us?

It should leave those who have been largely fortunate in life humble about their success, not to mention their health, longevity, children, etc. And those who have been hit with more than their fair share of bad luck should understand that if it really was bad luck and not their own actions that caused them misery, what happened to them was not a punishment (from God or from life).

The role of luck notwithstanding, there remains one area of life in which we are in charge: how we react. I learned this in high school when I read the great book "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl. As a Jew in a Nazi concentration camp, he learned that there was only one thing about an inmate's life that the Nazi guards could not control: how the inmate reacted to what happened to him.

If that was true in Auschwitz, it is true for most of us.

Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”

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