At least 3 reasons why you should never say "Wish me luck!"

Three reasons to avoid saying the phrase "Wish me luck!" as part of your goodbye dialogue: 

It's aggressive, presumptuous, and authoritarian. 


You're not even asking someone to wish you luck. You're telling them to offer you the wish. You're practically ordering them to do it. It's at least a little audacious, if not downright pushy. 

Isn't it?

Is there any other instance in which one person tells another person exactly what to say as they part? Can you even imagine it?

"Tell me not to worry!"
"Say something positive about my future!"
"Tell me that you love me a lot!"
"Tell me that you hope my plane doesn't crash, but say it in a funny way."
"When you say goodbye, add something about how you're hoping I win the PowerBall tonight!"
"As I turn my back and walk away, wait two seconds and then tell me I have a nice ass!"

It doesn't happen. "Wish me luck" is the only time when we demand that another person say a particular set of words as part of their farewell.

It also creates this odd stage play of sorts, because there is only one response to "Wish me luck!" 

It's "Good luck."

By asking someone to wish you luck, you can be 99.9% sure of their response, thereby creating this predetermined bit of two-line dialogue. It's like a guarantee of the future. You can be certain that there will be no surprises for at least the next two or three seconds.   

Person 1: Wish me luck!
Person 2: Good luck.

Is there another instance when dialogue is so predetermined? Even when you tell someone that you love them, the responses can vary slightly.

Person 1: I love you.

Possible responses:

I love you, too.
Me, too.
Love you, too.
Super love you!
Don't forget to pick up milk on the way home. 

"Wish me luck" is weird. I know that most of us don't think very much about it when we say it. It's simply a phrase that we use in place of the standard "Good bye" or "See you later." Most of the time, we're probably not trying to solicit wishes of good fortune from another person. We're simply trying to make an exit. 

Still, it's weird, even if you're using it innocuously. It's aggressive and presumptuous and authoritarian. It forces you and your companion into a brief and boring stage play. It's meaningless chatter laced with undertones of bellicosity.

I won't be annoyed if you ask me to wish you luck, but I may say something other than "Good luck," and perhaps something equally aggressive, presumptuous, and authoritarian.

Just for kicks.  

A rule for lifelong happiness: Stop begrudging the good fortune of others.

This simple rule - which I live by on a daily basis - has brought me great happiness and peace and allowed me more time to do other, more meaningful things.

I offer it to you:

If someone is experiencing good fortune or unexpected luck, and it comes at no expense to me or anyone for whom I care, I celebrate that person's luck and fortune and feel no resentment toward that person whatsoever. 

This is a rule that few people seem to embrace. I live in a world where people are constantly demanding equity in all things, even when the application of equity would only serve to hurt someone else and not change the life of the person complaining in any way.  

A few examples:

if my friend and I are speeding down the highway in separate cars, driving side by side. A police officer pulls me over for speeding and issues me a ticket while allowing my friend to drive on without any consequences, I am happy for my friend. I may be upset about my ticket, but it has nothing to do with my friend's good fortune, and I will not begrudging him of his good fortune.

If my boss attends my weekly production meeting and nitpicks all of my ideas and my team's progress, but then she misses my colleague's weekly production meeting because she left the office to attend her daughter's dance recital, I am happy for my colleague, who managed to avoid a hassle that I was forced to endure.

I'm not whining about equity. I am celebrating my colleague's lucky break. 

If the boss continues to attend my weekly production meetings for the next two months while repeatedly missing my colleague's meetings for a variety of reasons - illness, car trouble, meteor strike, narcolepsy, disinterest - I remain happy for my colleague his good fortune. I feel no resentment toward my colleague or even my boss for the lack of equity in the situation. I may be annoyed with the boss for her repeated interference in my meetings, but that annoyance has nothing to do with my colleague's good fortune. I am only happy for him and make no effort to demand equity, as it would only ruin my colleague's good fortune.   

If I have 26 fifth grade students, and the second grade teacher across the hall only has 16 students, I am not angry at parent-teacher conference time that my colleague has five fewer hours of conferencing that I do. I may be angry about having 26 students in my class in general, but that has nothing to do with my colleague's good fortune or the lack of balance between our classrooms. I am only happy for her good luck and small class size.

If I then discover that while I am required to provide parents with a 30 minute parent teacher conference, the principal in another elementary school in my district only requires her teachers to conduct 15 minute conferences, I am not angry that those teachers have less work on their plate than me, nor am I clamoring for equity from my own principal. I may wish for shorter conferences (in reality, I don't), but I remain happy for my colleagues in the other school regardless of my position, because demanding that they conference for 30 minutes doesn't change my life in any way. 

If my friend - who happens to already be wealthy thanks to a sizable inheritance - wins the lottery and pockets another $750,000, I am thrilled for my friend. His good luck has no bearing on my life or my own level of happiness. I might expect him to pick up the check more often than me, but I am nothing but pleased with my friend's unexpected windfall. 

Every day, I watch people get angry, annoyed, outraged, and upset by a lack of equity that offers good fortune to others at no expense to themselves. They whine. They complain. They foment discord in boardrooms and living rooms and cubicles and classrooms.

Stop it. It only makes you unhappy, unlikeable, and unbearable.

Seek equity when equity truly matters. Fight for equity when that equity can make a difference in your life or the life of others. 

But when someone experiences good fortune or luck at no one's expense, leave them alone. Move on with your life. Don't attempt to eliminate their good fortune or expect the same good fortune to be bestowed upon you. Stop wasting precious time on nonsense. 

Be a happy person.  

My daughter wished me luck before my most recent Moth GrandSLAM performance then promptly retracted it.

I received this incredibly sweet but slightly parroted message from my kids just before I took the stage in Brooklyn to compete in my tenth Moth GrandSLAM last week.


When I saw my daughter the next day, she asked how I did.

“Second place.”

“Again?” she asked. In ten GrandSLAMs, I’ve only won once and finished in second place seven times. Apparently my six year-old daughter is aware of this. She shook her head in disgust.

“I don’t know why I wish you good luck.”