Luck, Gratitude and Perception

Dr. Lucky Jain reflects on his life-changing heart attack.

There are some life experiences that are easy to be grateful for: graduations, weddings, the birth of a child. But have you ever been grateful for a negative experience? What about a heart attack?

You may have already heard Lucky Jain, MD, MBA, Chief Academic Officer at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, tell the story of how he had a sudden heart attack at a 2011 meeting in Orlando. He was at a podium about to speak when he collapsed. The first thing he remembers after regaining consciousness is someone asking his name.

“I’m Lucky,” he responded.

The capital “L” is important here, as his name actually is Lucky. Under the circumstances, it appeared that he was anything but lucky. That’s where perception comes into play.

Luck is a subjective concept. How you perceive your circumstances is your reality: Your belief or judgment of a situation can determine how you categorize that event.

In hindsight, Dr. Jain does consider himself lucky that he had that experience at that time in his life. Dr. Jain may not be grateful for his heart attack, but he is grateful for the changes it led him to make. He says the event gave him an “intense desire to look inward” and to work on areas where he identified room to grow. He became more passionate than ever about physical, mental and emotional wellness. He became co-chair of the Physician Wellness Committee at Children’s, and as a part of Physician Wellness, he became a mentor in the Physician Well-Being Mentor Program and peer supporter in the You Matter Program. He also built time into his busy schedule for meditation.

Dr. Jain is able to see some levity in his experience—after all, an event with hundreds of medical professionals is not a bad place to go into cardiac arrest. That’s the power of perception.

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