As Ecclesiastes reminds us, there is nothing new under the sun, and TikTok’s latest viral self-help sensation dubbed the “lucky girl syndrome” has all the makings of what’s already come before — just with a new twist.
In a nutshell, lucky girl syndrome is a Gen Z version of positive thinking. As an article in Deseret News points out, Boomers had Norman Vincent Peale’s “The Power of Positive Thinking,” Gen X loved Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret,” and millennials got into manifesting through vision boards. (This shows up in religious circles, too, with the prosperity gospel.) But lucky girl syndrome is the latest positive thinking trend promising a problem-free life if we harness our thoughts the right way.
The trend took off in late December when TikTok influencer Laura Galebe posted a video saying that her belief that she is really lucky brings all the best things into her life.
“I genuinely consider myself one of the luckiest people I know,” Galebe said in the TikTok. “I get the most insane opportunities thrown at me out of nowhere.”
The TikTok video has been viewed over 3 million times and videos with the hashtag #luckygirlsyndrome have been viewed 149.6 million times (as of the writing of the Deseret News article). Many on TikTok are posting their own personal experiences, claiming that practicing #luckygirlsyndrome thinking has changed their lives. From Deseret News:
Samantha Palazzolo and her friend swear that lucky girl syndrome has changed their lives. The friends began by telling themselves and each other positive mantras.
“Anytime we would see each other we would say, ‘everything works out for us,’” Palazzolo said in a TikTok video. Palazzolo and her friend both wanted the bottom bedrooms at their new apartment, but they wanted to let their roommate select her rooms first. “A couple of days later, our roommate came to us and (said), ‘I want the top bedroom, you guys can have the bottom ones yourself,’” Palazzolo told the New York Post. They credit their good fortune to lucky girl syndrome.
Lucky girl syndrome seems more about the “law of assumption” rather than the “law of attraction” — that is, if you just assume everything will go your way, it will.
Galebe claims this only started working after she genuinely began to believe that she’s “the luckiest person” and after telling herself multiple times a day that “great things are always happening to me unexpectedly.”
This kind of thinking could be considered a kind of of manifesting, which we wrote about last year. Dr. Greg Popcak, executive director of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, made the point that Christians should always be wary of anything that claims to give them special powers.
“As Christians, we’re called to cooperate with grace, not use it as a magic spell that enables us to bend the future to our will.”
Such distinctions and nuances are essential. There’s a big difference between believing that you can make something happen merely by thinking it and aligning your thoughts with your goals and coming up with an action plan that helps you reach those goals. There’s also a big difference between believing you have all the power to make something happen, and believing God is all-powerful and nothing happens outside of His will.
As the same article points out, there is also the problem of evil. What about when bad things happen? How does lucky girl syndrome work when your best friend dies, your mother gets sick, you lose the job you love, or your boyfriend dumps you? How does it work for other girls caught up in cycles of poverty, violence, exploitation, and war? Are they supposed to just think their way out of that?
Lucky girl syndrome is a kind of magical thinking. In fact, the influencer who originally posted the video that went viral advised her viewers to “try being delusional for like, a month, and tell me if your life doesn’t change.”
So is there any truth to lucky girl syndrome?
Like a lot of these reinventions of positive thinking, there is some truth in there, sure. Our thoughts do shape our perceptions of reality and they motivate us to take (or avoid) certain actions. How and what we think matters.
But rather than simply think about ourselves and repeat mantras of our wants and desires, we are invited to conform our minds to Christ and to think about “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
“Being lucky” doesn’t keep all suffering out of your life or magically change all the circumstances that are out of your control. Popcak reminds us that as Christians, we can’t make anything happen just by thinking about it—even thinking really hard. “For the Christian, manifesting ignores the question of discernment. It isn’t enough to simply say to “the universe, ‘This is what I want.’ As Christians, our prayer is always, ‘Lord, what is your will?’”
So while you may want to work on those inner scripts you’ve got and how you talk to yourself, no amount of deluding yourself is going to suddenly make everything happen according to your fantasies or take away your problems. It’s not so important that “luck” favors you; but that God favors you because He loves you so much.
Gen Z boys might want to consider themselves lucky that they seem to have been left out of the #luckygirlsyndrome trend.