Today is Friday the 13th. As I realized the date, I started to think about all of the mystery and traditional superstition associated with this day. While there are many theories as to what makes this date such bad luck; from the slaughter of the Knights Templar on this particular Friday to the simple negative association to the number “13.” However you want to conceptualize it, Friday the 13th is one of those days that many people find powerful for one reason or another.
I started to think of my own personal experience with this date. As a teen, I remember being thrown through a car windshield as my friend Johnny failed to see the large, brightly painted ’72 Cutlass parked on the side of the road and plowed into it with his Dodge station-wagon. I just assumed this incident was indicative of all my Friday the 13ths, but then I had to take pause and consider that this was one of the few incidents that actually stood out.
Do we focus on the negative?
The human experience seems to include as one of its default settings, a more prominent focus on that which is negative. My personal theory is that this is a hold-out from ancient times when survival was not as easy as it is today. Our ancestors could not walk or drive to a corner market and obtain food, they had to forage and fight for it. Inherent in this process is the exposure to danger and adversity. If our species was to survive it had to adapt to its dangerous environment. This included a need to remember those things that appeared to be painful and/or life-ending. Maybe we have retained this even in an environment far more conducive to survival.
Can we control our thoughts?
Controlling your thoughts is difficult. For example, try your best NOT to think of a red giraffe… once the suggestion is there, it is impossible not to have some cognition associated with that demand. With this in mind, I suggest that it is important to honor and be aware of exactly what it is we are thinking; not why, but what. Thoughts, like the idea that Friday the 13th is “bad luck,” are ambiguous; we are the ones that assign a positive or negative value to them. With this assigned value comes consequence in the form of action or behavior. We think, therefore we are!
So my challenge to all of you on this historically malicious date: think positive and this could be the luckiest day of your life!