It's kind of funny. I've thought about this in my own situation as well.
My life has its due share of hardships (mostly financial, but mostly self-inflicted, or unavoidable), but the good has far outweighed the bad. I've benefited from what may be called "luck" on a very great number of things.
I have had a life that is worthy of great deal of appreciation. I had a happy childhood home, I've never faced poverty conditions, I've never had to really struggle for anything, I've had excellent health (a single trip to the ER in my entire lifetime, and one very minor surgery; despite the fact that I do not exactly treat this body as a temple in terms of diet and exercise), I'm currently happily married with three healthy (and very intelligent and curious) children, and on and on.
Obviously, many of these things are due to human effort ("good planning and making reasoned decisions"), though, so they're not really the basis of my notion of my good "luck".
Fortunately, there are other examples.
Going back to my school days, there were many times where I had procrastinated on some project or another, only to be met with the due date and an unfinished assignment. Several times (not all, but a large enough frequency to be noted), something would happen that got me off the "hook" (a snow day, an absent teacher, a forgetful teacher, a large enough number of others with incomplete assignments that an extension was granted, etc.)
Or perhaps at work, where there have been an instance or two where I could have potentially been blamed for a screw-up, but some factor came to light that exonerated me (despite the fact that I did screw up, it was deemed the fault of something else).
I've fallen out of trees, off of bikes, been in a couple of (low-speed) car accidents, and never had a major injury.
And I've also experienced a large number of "serendipitous" moments, where everything just seemed to fall into place.
So the notion has grown in my mind that I am indeed "lucky". Perhaps even "blessed".
Of course, that notion gets shot down by the fact that I don't actually believe in "luck" (despite my experience; I chalk it all up to either simple coincidence, or an optimistic outlook on random occurrences, etc.) and I don't believe in any outside force that might be causing me to receive the benefit of "luck".
So, I too, am stuck in the odd place where I seem to have an abundance of something I don't believe in.
A single mother with nine children, living in a drug and gang-infested slum, listening to the echoes of gunfire almost daily, worrying that the next stray or aimed bullet might kill her love ones, worrying where the next meals will come from, worrying that her sick child might die, so what term defines her life in a way that does not refer to the supernatural?
Hardship of any kind makes a person deeply happy with the simple things in life. I pity those who have so much they cannot stop to smell the roses, or who are so used to pampering that they cannot genuinely say "thank you," or "I'm sorry," or even, "I love you." I pity those who do not understand fear, or hurt, or heartache, or loss...they are missing out on some of the most beautiful things in life because they are so well-protected. Many times people who "have it all" have no street smarts. No ability to fight. Then when the going gets tough, which it eventually does for all of us at some point or another, they crumble under pressure and cannot cope. I think of the housewife who has had everything and anything she always wanted...and then tragically loses her husband and hasn't a clue what is going on with the finances. Or the recent college grad whose parent have paid the way and the student had never had to sacrifice anything...entering the real world finding the cold harsh realities for the first time. Hardship is what defines our happiness and the ability to overcome is what gives our lives meaning. Not for hardship sake but because we then have something to offer others. We then can turn around and give back and we can give back more so than someone who hasn't a clue. Hardship defines us. Just my opinion here.
Belle, I think you are onto something there. There certainly was a point of time in my life where "if I didn't have bad luck, I'd have no luck at all"--Muddy Waters. As a result I find the good in wherever I happen to be.
BTW, I live in the inner city, across the street is a single mother with 8 children and though they struggle, they are usually fine. They find happiness, where they can find it. I have to say though, when she announced that the 8th was on the way, I don't think anyone was congratulating her.
My house was burglarized in 2011, and for a while, I couldn't figure out why I didn't feel "violated" or hurt the way everyone seems to feel when that happens. I actually felt ok, especially since they caught the guy.
After a while I realized though, that the burglar only got away with a few electronics and trinkets, but when I got divorced half of my stuff was taken, including from my bank account and retirement fund! Made the burglar look like an amateur.
I think it might partly be positive affirmation. I always think I'm lucky, and I wondered at one stage in my life if the luck would run out. It hasn't but I think its because I notice and remember the good things, and just process and manage the bad stuff.
Small, and maybe a daft example, but I have just managed the "bad" news that a project I am working on has had to be suspended for a few months. However, I have also just heard that my mother's breast cancer is still shrinking, due to the anti-hormone medication they are trying out on her. I'm really happy about this great news. Meanwhile, I've managed my expectations on the project.
So on a net basis, I'm feeling really good. If I had been of a different nature, perhaps the bad would have outweighed the good. Since I am the one doing the weighing, however, it is the other way around. So yes, I do think it has a lot to do with our attitudes.
I rolled a vehicle once and walked away with nary a scratch. My first thoughts were, "I'm lucky it wasn't worse." Then I realized that was silly. If I was truly lucky, my vehicle wouldn't have rolled in the first place. At best you could say I had a touch of good luck in the face bad luck, but the end result was still a net deficit, but I felt more happy than not overall, so I was left with the feeling that it was actually the other way around.
One problem with the English language: so many synonyms. Here, does acknowledging good fortune differ from acknowledging good luck?
Another problem. Here, I suppose we're considering a good-bad dichotomy, not a good-evil dichotomy.
And so, I define "good" as what I like and "bad" as what I don't like.
If I feel a need to explain an occurrence I like, I might say I was in the right place at the right time.
I will ignore inquiries about the right place at the wrong time, the wrong place at the right time, and the wrong place at the wrong time.
It's so nice to see that someone feels the same way!
I've been experiencing this lately, too.
I have an incredible life. Seriously. My life fucking rocks.
I'm sure 99% of it is because of the place and time I was born. That other 1% is from making life choices that fulfilled me as a person.
So that's what I say. "My life is awesome!" or "I'm so happy!"
Instead of a prayer of thanks, I raise a toast. Instead of feeling blessed, I know I am lucky and pro-active.
It doesn't hurt to thank the FSM, either. :)