Are you lucky or unlucky? It’s not the universe or random chance that makes you that way—it’s your own thoughts and behaviors.
How We Know
English psychologist and author Richard Wiseman once performed a 10-year study into the science of luck. He placed ads in the newspaper calling for people who considered themselves very lucky or very unlucky to contact him. In all, his study included 400 participants from all walks of life. In one experiment, he asked lucky and unlucky people to look through a newspaper and count the number of photographs inside. On average, it took the unlucky people around two minutes. The lucky people, on the other hand, took a few seconds. Why? Because on the second page, there was a message that said in massive font, “Stop counting. There are 4I 3 photographs in this newspaper.” The lucky people, it seems, were more open to possibilities other than the ones they were searching for.
In another experiment, he presented both lucky and unlucky people with a scenario: imagine you’re at a bank when an armed robber comes in. He fires a single bullet, and it hits you in the arm. Would you consider this event lucky or unlucky? Unlucky people were more likely to say it was unlucky—it was their bad luck to not only be in the bank when a robber came in, but to be the only person who was shot. On the contrary, lucky people thought it was a lucky scenario. After all, you could have been shot in the head. Says Wiseman in an article he wrote on the experiment, “Lucky people tend to imagine spontaneously how the bad luck they encounter could have been worse and, in doing so, they feel much better about themselves and their lives. This, in turn, helps keep their expectations about the future high, and, increases the likelihood of them continuing to live a lucky life.”
How You Can Get Luckier
Wiseman used his research to figure out how people could improve their luck. He found that there were four principles at work:
1. Maximize chance opportunities. Stay open to new experiences and adopt a more relaxed attitude.
2. Listen to lucky hunches. Pay attention to your intuition, and work to clear your mind of cluttering thoughts.
3. Expect good fortune. Lucky people assume that everything will turn out alright. That helps them keep going even in the face of failure.
4. Turn bad luck into good. Imagine how things could have been worse. Don’t dwell on the bad. Take control rather than giving up.
The Science Of Luck
Luck isn’t in the universe; it’s in your personality.