Ever think to yourself, “They’ve got all the luck”? It’s just their luck that an equally skilled or talented person gets that dream job you always wanted. Or those who find the love of their life are often chalked up to being “lucky in love.” Well, it turns out that luck may be more scientific than superstition. In a ten-year study by Richard Wiseman, experiments showed the nature of luck, and the study revealed that, to a large extent, people make their own good and bad fortune. The results also showed that it is possible to cultivate the amount of luck that people may encounter.
“Lucky people are often convinced that these opportunities are the result of pure chance…But …these seemingly chance opportunities are the result of lucky people’s psychological makeup. . . . Luck is believing you’re lucky.”
This is not to be confused with luck at the gambling table or the slot machines. That is a matter of odds and mathematical statistics. And even in those scenarios, professional gamblers master the ability to calculate those odds and play games of chance with great skill, not superstition.
Wiseman started out as a stage magician. He realized that the art of magic relies more on psychology than trickery. The true secret behind magic lies in clever psychological techniques that exploit limitations in the way our brains work. Visual illusions occur when there is a mismatch between our perceptual experience and the true state of reality. So, unless we are paying close attention to something, we simply won’t see it.
In one experiment Wiseman gave people who described themselves as lucky or unlucky a newspaper and asked them to look through it and tell him how many photographs were inside. On average, the unlucky people took about two minutes to count the photographs, whereas the lucky people took just seconds. Why? Because the second page of the newspaper contained a message the size of a half page, in bold type, saying, “Stop counting – There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” It was staring everyone straight in the face, yet the unlucky people missed it, and the lucky people tended to spot it. He then placed a second large message halfway through the newspaper. That one said: “Stop counting, tell the experimenter you have seen this, and win $250.” Again, the unlucky people missed the opportunity because they were still too busy looking for photographs. The harder they looked, the less they saw. And so it is with luck – unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else.
Wiseman noted several factors about his lucky people. Personality tests revealed that unlucky people are generally much more tense and anxious than lucky people, and research has shown that anxiety disrupts people’s ability to notice the unexpected. Wiseman also noticed that many of his lucky participants went to considerable lengths to introduce change and variety into their lives. For example, lucky people tend to use various techniques to create chance opportunities that surround them, including to break daily routines. They also deal more effectively with bad luck by imagining how things could have been worse. Although lucky people believe they are lucky, they don’t wait for luck to knock on their door; they work for it.
Here are just a few tips:
- Lucky people are generally more relaxed, so stress reduction techniques such as meditation, tai chi, yoga, dancing, etc., are a big help.
- Lucky people generally create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations. Focus on what you do want, not what you don’t want. Practice focus exercises, like the four-column Mind Focus Exercise I introduced in my November newsletter.
- Lucky people adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good. Wiseman’s research showed that athletes who win bronze medals, for example, are happier than those who win silver medals. Why? The silver medalists focused on the notion that if they had performed slightly better, perhaps they would have won a gold medal. In contrast, the bronze medalists focused on the thought that if they had performed slightly worse, then they wouldn’t have won anything at all. Psychologists refer to our ability to imagine what might have happened, rather than what actually did happen, as “counterfactual.” Counterfactual thinking often plays out in real-time after a natural disaster. Following a flood, tornado, wildfire, or some similar calamity, interviews with survivors who have barely escaped with their lives are usually shaken and highly emotional, yet even though they have often lost everything, we commonly hear them use words such as “lucky” or “grateful” because it could have been worse.
- Lucky people are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities. For example, unlucky people go to parties intent on finding their perfect partner and so miss opportunities to make good friends. They look through newspapers determined to find a certain type of job advertisement and as a result miss other types of jobs. Lucky people, on the other hand, are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there rather than just what they are looking for. Did you notice, for example, the code for huge discounts on all our CBD, and Neuro Biologix products in this newsletter?
- Lucky people make fortuitous decisions by listening to their intuition.
- Luck is something we can create for ourselves by behaving and thinking in a way that increases our odds of getting lucky. Wiseman uses the example of an apple orchard. If you choose to only pick the apples in the center of the orchard, eventually you will run out of supply. And the more you return to the same locations, the harder it will be to find apples there. But new or even random experiences introduce the potential for new opportunities. Before making an important decision, for example, one of Wiseman’s lucky participants would constantly alter his route to work. Another person described a special technique he had developed to force him to meet different types of people. He had noticed that whenever he went to a party, he tended to talk to the same type of people. To help disrupt this routine, and make life more fun, he thinks of a color before he arrives at the party and then chooses to only speak to people wearing that color of clothing at the party!
- While avoiding being careless or taking unwarranted risks, it is crucial to move outside of your comfort zone, which may yield significant benefits.
- Lucky people are less rigid in their thinking and are more open-minded.
- Being grateful for what we have previously accomplished can serve as a reminder of how far we have come and provide the inspiration we need to face obstacles in the future.