If you only dream about happiness, you might miss it. That’s why luck goes to the courageous people who take it by the chance and make a winning streak out of it. Some lucky people have more luck than sense. But be careful: happiness is as fragile as glass, even if it is said that shards bring good luck.
How much the topic of happiness concerns people is reflected in the language. German is full of idioms and folk wisdom about happiness. Other languages know this too, but German, which is otherwise so flexible, is surprisingly simple. In English, a distinction is made between “luck” and “happiness”, i.e. between happy coincidence and well-being, and the French also distinguish between “fortune” and “bonheur”. The ancient Romans knew “fortuna” and “felicitas”, and already over 2000 years ago, the Roman writer racked his brains about the nature of happiness and wrote down 289 good pieces of advice for a happy life.
In German, however, there is only luck; you can have it or be it. In general, the German view of happiness seems suspicious to its French neighbors. The German phrase “luck in misfortune” even got its own name in French 200 years ago: “le bonheur allerand”. The Germans have even written their happiness into the national anthem, in which “unity and justice and freedom” are the pledge of “happiness”.
What people have always been most concerned about, however, is chance luck. The idea behind many sayings is that there must be a balancing justice when it comes to happiness. Sometimes the opponent’s lucky streak has to end, whoever is lucky in the game can be unlucky in love or after three heads the coin has to come up tails on the next toss because otherwise it would be unfair.
Even today, people still adhere to superstition in their search for a system of happiness. Pilots never fly without their personal talisman, some knock on wood, actors spit over their shoulders, others screw a horseshoe to the grille of their car or avoid black cats. There is no 13th floor in hotels. Everything depends on chance. Happiness is impartial and blind. The ancient Greeks already knew this and blindfolded their goddess of fate, Fortuna, when she turned the wheel of fate for each individual.
Random luck was unknown in the Middle Ages; luck was neither good nor evil. It was neutral. This view of fate has been preserved in the phrase “Good luck”. It wasn’t until the beginning of modern times and the Enlightenment that there was room for the feeling of “being happy”. In literature, the discovery of one’s own well-being founded a literary era: sensitivity. The greatest achievement of the new movement was probably sensual love. Previously it was considered a destructive force, from now on it was considered the greatest happiness in life.
I am an author and journalist who has worked in the entertainment industry for over a decade. I currently work as a news editor at a major news website, and my focus is on covering the latest trends in entertainment. I also write occasional pieces for other outlets, and have authored two books about the entertainment industry.