Fortunate > Blessed

On expressing gratitude while embracing randomness

In the age of social media #blessed has become one of the most popular expressions.

I know people use the term with good intentions, but something has always felt slightly off to me about it and I’ve finally gotten to the root of it:

Self identifying as “blessed” implies that the divine, the universe, has specifically chosen you, in your goodness and deservedness, to receive some gift. But the other edge of the sword implies that other’s haven’t been chosen — perhaps, because they aren’t quite as deserving?

There’s this faint hint of deservedness mixed with gratitude in the expression that feels misplaced.

A replacement

I think the better replacement expression for “blessed” is “fortunate”.

Fortunate captures the same sense of gratitude, but replaces the tinge of deservedness with luck (i.e. something that hasn’t been earned that could have easily fallen in favor of the person next to us).

Bad things happen to good people, and amazing things happen to bad people because the world is an incomprehensibly complex and swirling system where things make sense far less frequently than they do.

We should accept, embrace, and celebrate that reality.

The randomness and unpredictability of it all is what makes our universe such a fascinating place to exist.

We’re not blessed to have been born in a first-world democracy.
We’re fortunate to have been born here.

We’re not blessed to have been given a world-class education without debt.
We’re fortunate to have been afforded that opportunity.

It’s arrogant of us to think that we’ve been selected, chosen out of the sea of souls to be bestowed a special honor.

Embracing the lottery makes us better, more humble, more gracious citizens, friends, and partners.

It sets us free from errantly trying to get the combination just right in order to unlock our next gift from the universal vending machine.

It sets us free to simply marvel at the grandness of it all and appreciate how preciously small we are.

🤝 Stay in touch

I send an email several times a year with a handful of the most interesting things I’ve written or uncovered at home, abroad, and on the web.

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