Teachers share perspectives on luck in their lives


Out of all the places in the world, assistant principal secretary Tricia Palomino happened to meet her future husband at Toys “R” Us. They were fresh out of high school and working their first jobs at the toy store. Now, the two are married and are settled down with two kids.

Palomino doesn’t know if the encounter was simply meant to be, but she does believe there was a stroke of luck involved. As far as the amount of bad or good luck in her life, she considers it a mix of both. Like a rollercoaster, sometimes bad things will happen one after another, but all of a sudden wonderful things will be right around the corner, such as the birth of her children. She tries to divert her attention from the roller coaster dips — the unluckiness — in her life to what she is thankful for, such as a roof over her head and food  in her stomach.

“What more do you need to get by if you’ve got a comfortable place to live and food in your stomach and clothes to wear? And people [who] love you?” Palomino said.

Biology teacher Kyle Jones thinks similarly of his own situation. He’s not necessarily ‘unfathomably lucky’ in the sense of having significant miracles, such as ‘a major financial break,’ but emphasizes that he’s already in a very fortunate position simply because he lives in the U.S. However, Jones suggests that humans often focus much more on the unluckiness in their lives rather than the lucky moments. From an evolutionary perspective, he believes this makes sense.

“Your survival is probably more dependent on you reacting strongly to something that’s negative than to reacting, struggling, [to something] that’s positive, just in general,” Jones said. “So I think we’re tuned to see the dangers in life a little bit more strongly, and more emotionally, maybe, then we are the positives. So it’s always like we’re leaning [and] focusing on the negative.”

Sophomore Brooke Young has a very clear memory of personal bad luck. Her math teacher typically collected homework at the end of the unit, so his class would have around a month to complete all the homework assigned each day. Unfortunately, he once checked the day’s homework out of the blue, and this happened to be the only day Young had decided not to do her homework. The girl next to her, who typically never completed the day’s homework, had finished it for once, a rare event.

“She was like, ‘I don’t know why [I did my homework], are you guys proud of me? I did my homework today,’” Young said. “And right [on the day] our teacher [happened to]check it, she did her homework. And so I was like ‘Why, why did this happen to me?’ Because that was the one day I didn’t do it.”

Echoing Jones’ observation, Young admits that instances of bad luck stand out to her very clearly, such as when her sister tripped down the stairs and hurt her leg the day before the MVHS tennis team had their CCS tournament. However, Young believes the reason behind this negative thinking isn’t necessarily evolution but because people often take good luck for granted.

“We don’t really see what we have at the moment,” Young said. “We only see that bad stuff that happens.”

As a way to avoid this kind of mindset, Palomino recommends people take a step back and focus on the bigger picture, thus acknowledging all the lucky and fortunate things in their lives. They will most likely find that the good really does outweigh the bad.

“You can choose to just move forward from it,” Palomino said. “You can let yourself feel what you need to, but then make the choice to move forward and focus on the good things in your life, rather than the negative things.”

Similarly, rather than focusing on one’s lack of luck, Jones believes it’s important to utilize one’s luck to help those who are unlucky. He advises students to focus on the fortunate situation they may have been born with and compare their situations to that of the entire world — for Jones, living in Cupertino is already the top 0.1 percent of “luckiness” in terms of location.

“In the sense of the [fortunate] situation I was [born] into, I had no control over it,” Jones said. “I got lucky, right? Everyone starts out at different levels of luck. Life isn’t fair.”