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  • Writer's pictureBill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 10-13-23 – Friday the Thirteenth

I don’t care if it’s Friday the 13th. I’m just happy it’s Friday.” – unknown

It is sort of odd when you think of it. Why 13, and what do people think it means when it falls on a Friday? It has Norse origins related to the trickster Loki and seems associated also with the last supper and the twelve disciples. Nothing really about it appears in the record until the early 20th century when references show up about it in a play and a novel. Somehow, we think of this day as unlucky.

We have issues with the number 13. There is even a word for fear or avoidance of the number 13, triskaidekaphobia. According to the Otis elevator company, around 85% of elevators do not have a button labeled 13, instead these floors are often labeled mechanical. There is a cottage industry around floor 13 conspiracies on this being the place that the government does secret experimentation or hides aliens that has shown up in popular media and TV shows like the X files. In that show, in the birthday of the fictional character Fox Mulder, was Friday April 13th, 1961. Appollo 13 had issues on its return from the moon, so NASA named the 13th shuttle flight STS-41-C, the fifth mission of the shuttle Challenger which served ten missions until its tragic loss on STS-51-L in January 1986.

Some people have even suggested that car accidents are more prevalent on Friday the 13th, and for some reason these assertions focused on women and car accidents on this day. Researchers have found that this is false. Perhaps people really do stay at home and hide when the calendar lands on this day. We can be an odd species, ruled by superstition. A friend notes that on some level over human evolution we still respond to things based on superstition, we are cave men (and women) driving cars.

What happens when we think that something is going to be bad. Negative thoughts, or what psychologist Aaron Beck called negative schemas matter a great deal. Negative thoughts reinforce negative feelings in a feedback loop. There is even some evidence that it can influence the onset of depression, although it is important to note there are a lot of other factors in relation to the condition of depression. Yet it is also true, at least for me, if I entertain my negative thinking, it can take over my brain like a run away locomotive and make me miserable.

So today is ours. We can make it a good day. Even if it ends up a lot of things happen that do not go our way, this may end up being good fortune. As time unfolds often things that look like they did not go as planned can end up yielding a great deal of positive results. If you have some superstitions about the day, try to do something fun to reset how you see the day.

The best way to make today a good one is to look for good things to happen today. We have this thing called confirmation bias. If you think that Friday the 13th will mean that the universe will dispense unpleasantness on you, it is what you will tend to find in your day. We have some control over this. We can say to ourselves that we will look for positive things. As a result, we find things that we see as positive.

Do you want to have a good day? Look for positive things that happen today. If you want positive things to happen to other people around you, go out of your way and do something nice for another human. Doing so may even improve your day if it is unfolding in less than favorable ways. I am the first person to acknowledge that doing things like this when you feel unhappy can take extra effort, but I will also tell you that it works.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to have a good day today, if that is what I focus on.

What are you grateful for today?

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