By Cherry Lai

What Is “Lucky Girl Syndrome” And How Can We Catch A Case Of It?

The trend has been blowing up on social media
Photo: Emre Guven

Imagine sitting down with your morning coffee and having a little pep talk with yourself: I get everything I want because that’s just the way it is. Things are always working out in my favour. I’m so lucky. Then proceed to watch some of your wildest dreams fall right into your lap. 

To some, this might sound too good to be true at best and a tad cuckoo at worst. For the millions upon millions on social media though, this is simply the phenomenon known as lucky girl syndrome. Introduced on Tiktok by New York‑based influencer Laura Galebe in mid‑December last year, the concept went viral in early 2023 and shows no signs of stopping, with the hashtag #luckygirlsyndrome having racked up an astonishing 1.1 billion views on Tiktok at press time, and millions more across platforms such as Youtube and Instagram. And it’s not just the females who are touting it; crops of men have been regaling their own takes on the trend—though not without garnering a fair share of criticism.

@skzzolno i don’t know why it works but… everything works out for us #luckygirlsyndrome #luckygirl #luckygirlsyndrom #manifestation #affirmationsoftheday #affirmations #collegelifehack #lifehack #college #collegegirls ♬ original sound – sammy k

But what exactly is this curious syndrome and is it really that easy to channel your inner lucky girl? Dig deeper and you’ll find that it isn’t a groundbreaking concept, but a catchier (if not simplified) iteration of the 20th‑century New Thought thinking that positive vibrations draw positive experiences into one’s life. Rhonda Byrne’s 2006 bestseller The Secret introduced similar beliefs to popular culture, such as the law of assumption and the law of attraction, and after two years of global upheaval, it makes sense that 2023 has become the perfect fertile ground for their resurgence, says Geraldine Tan, principal psychologist at The Therapy Room. “We all desire certainty and control of our future,” she expounds. “The young generation may feel that their current situation is quite unlucky and the trend can seem like the perfect balm, offering them hope that they can be the masters of their own fate.”

Photo: Emre Guven

Of course, humans for eons have not been above trying to steer their destinies, be it through age‑old superstitions, feng shui, horoscopes or the like. But lucky girl syndrome, where one’s mindset alone is believed to have a direct effect on one’s fortune, takes a more empowered approach that can be especially alluring. And if you think it’s all magic dust, think again. Multiple studies have shown that when we’re rousing from sleep, the brain switches from delta waves (which occur in deep sleep) to theta waves, which are associated with a relaxed, dream‑like state prime for tapping into the creative and subconscious—setting the stage for positive visualisations and affirmations. This is likely why morning motivational mantras (which visionary Apple founder Steve Jobs was rumoured to be a fan of) work.

“There are definitely merits to the lucky girl syndrome,” says award‑winning life coach Ruchi Parekh, who is a Neuro‑Linguistic Programming practitioner. “Scientifically explained, we have something known as the reticular activating system (RAS): a bundle of nerves at the brainstem that filters out unnecessary information not in sync with the narrative of our mind or the script on which we run our lives.” She brings up the example of someone who wants to purchase a black car and suddenly notices a wealth of them in their environment; they were simply not aware of them previously due to the RAS. “[In the same vein], when you keep repeating how lucky you are, the RAS believes it to be your truth, starts the filtering process and gives you more instances to confirm that you’re very lucky. Good things start happening because you expect them to.”

@lauren_bulloch Lucky girl sydrome is real 🌟 #luckygirlsyndrome #howtomanifest #rewirethebrain #subconsciousmind #manifestation #howtomanifest ♬ original sound – Aligned Mind

And they happen seemingly instantly—at least according to the millions who flock to social media to recount their almost Cinderella‑esque lucky breaks. From living pay cheque to pay cheque to building successful businesses, finding a great apartment and marrying the man or woman of one’s dreams, these testimonials, brimming with larger‑than‑life optimism, are endless. Yet, for many others for whom lady luck might be running late, unmet expectations can just as quickly sink them into disillusionment and anxiety. And therein lies one of the biggest issues with lucky girl syndrome. “The problem with the content put out on social media,” says Parekh, “is that it’s incomplete. It focuses only on one aspect: what one puts out into the universe, one gets back. Thus, if one is not able to be positive or is going through a rough patch, the assumption is that it’s something that individual has pulled into his or her life. That can be hard on anyone’s self‑confidence and self‑esteem.” She adds that “lucky girls” may also feel an internal pressure to keep up the image, leading to complications down the road.

Photo: Emre Guven

Tan also addresses the toxic positivity the trend has been criticised for promoting, pointing out that it overlooks and underrepresents the negative emotions that are inevitable in one’s journey. “Negative emotions have many important functions,” she says. “They alert us to potential dangers, provide valuable information about our internal state and environment, and can help us build resilience and promote empathy.” 

Most importantly, both Parekh and Tan espouse the importance of putting in the hard work. As the saying goes, dreams don’t work unless one does, but with the hustle and struggles that take place behind the camera often staying behind the scenes, more impressionable viewers can mistakenly believe that thinking positively is all one needs to become lucky and successful.

Ultimately, while mantras are most definitely not magic wands that dissipate life’s problems with a whirl, those who aspire to change their lives for the better—and can refrain from romanticising the future and be willing to take action—could benefit from the power of a positive mind and how it can unveil abundant opportunities they have never noticed before. Lady luck may not materialise in exactly the way one envisions, but wouldn’t it be great to open the door when she knocks?