TikTok's 'Lucky Girl Syndrome,' Explained

Find out what it is and whether or not it's problematic.

Woman Smiling
Stocksy.

Leave it to TikTok to coin a term for the alleged power of positive thinking that is — like most "trends" that grow at warped speed on the app — at once catchy and contradictory. Meet "lucky girl syndrome:" an affirmation, a manifestation technique, an exclusionary idea that promises luck is simply a state of mind.

For those not in the loop, lucky girl syndrome is a term used to describe a phenomenon an array of people on TikTok, including influencers and average users alike, claim to have experienced (videos with the hashtag #luckygirlsyndrome have nearly 80 million views and counting). And no, it's not a medical ailment, as the name would suggest.

Simply put, thinking about how lucky you are, telling yourself you are lucky, and believing you are lucky will bring you good fortune, should you get struck with lucky girl syndrome. New work opportunities? Lucky girl syndrome! The best room in a shared apartment? Lucky girl syndrome! But is there any information to support this ideology, and what do its critics say? Ahead, hear what a mental health expert and a manifestation pro think about the concept.

What is lucky girl syndrome?

Lucky girl syndrome is a cutesy name for the idea that you can conjure up luck and opportunities by believing that you are lucky through the power of positive thinking. And videos of people sharing their success stories are all over TikTok.

"Lucky girl syndrome appears to promote that just believing good things will happen will actually make them happen," explains Don Grant, M.A., M.F.A, D.A.C, SU.D.C.C. IV, Ph.D., a media psychologist specializing in technology's impact on mental health, and the national advisor of healthy device management at Newport Healthcare.

You can use the laws of attraction and assumption to make sense of the phenomenon, he adds. The law of assumption, for instance, "is a method of manifestation which posits that what we believe or imagine is true becomes our reality," says Grant. Similarly, the law of attraction follows a "if you build it, they will come" philosophy, according to Grant.

"I can definitely see why repeating affirmations such as 'I am so lucky' would have a positive effect on your life," says Roxie Nafousi, self-development coach, manifesting expert, and the Sunday Times best-selling author of Manifest: 7 Steps to Living Your Best Life. "Affirmations like this, when repeated regularly, could encourage the subconscious parts of your brain to seek out more opportunities and see things in a more positive light, create a better mindset, and therefore alter your behaviors and perceptions of your experiences to align with that statement."

However, Nafousi is hesitant to call this practice manifestation. Instead, it should be thought of as a "support" to manifesting. "To me, manifesting is a self-development practice that is rooted in self worth and requires you to work on your inner healing journey, re-program your subconscious beliefs, be proactive in reaching your goals, be willing to step outside your comfort zone, put in the work, and persist through challenges," she says. "It is a way of living. But I don’t believe it is 'luck' or about crossing your fingers and hoping, and I think the association can be misleading."

Is lucky girl syndrome problematic?

Some people on TikTok claim the idea of lucky girl syndrome is inherently ableist and racist, as it suggests that anyone can use the power of positive thinking to change their life or circumstances when that's simply not true for everyone.

"I worry that this trend is misleading people to think that they need to 'just be luckier' to attract things they want into their lives, which may encourage people to sit back and wait for things to come to them, rather than actively pursue or take action to make things happen," says Nafousi. "It might also make other people feel that they 'just aren’t lucky enough' and therefore discourage them from taking charge of their lives and creating their own luck."

"The hard truth is that some individuals just start with stronger tools, resources, family systems, privileges, opportunities, and abilities than others," adds Grant. "That certainly doesn’t mean that people can't overcome obstacles, but the reality is that it can be harder for them to do so without the same baseline assets. It also could be argued that believing in luck is an entitled luxury for the privileged."

That's not even addressing the toxic positivity aspect of lucky girl syndrome. While having a positive outlook on life can be a good thing, toxic positivity refers to feeling the need to always be positive, even when life objectively challenging. "No one feels positively all the time...no one," Gail Saltz, M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine and host of the Personology podcast previously told Shape. If they do, "that means a person is using denial, repression, or some defense mechanism to ignore other feelings to always be 'up.'"

Even though Grant is all for positive thinking and believing in yourself, he is wary of the lucky girl syndrome trend. "Those who believe it can/will/does work and then actually try it, only to find that it doesn’t deliver the outcome they desired, could then become resentful, angry, upset, jealous, emotionally dysregulated, or even self-doubting," he says.

If you're seeing #luckygirlsyndrome all over your FYP and aren't sure what to make of it, here's the bottom line. Positive thinking can be a good thing, but there's a fine line between appreciating the benefits of being hopeful and suggesting to others that all of their wildest dreams will come true if they simply change their attitude.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles