Luck is not a magical ability or a gift from the gods. Instead, it is a way of thinking and behaving. Dr. Richard Wiseman, psychologist and magician,
Every year when I see March on the horizon, I think about luck. Write about it. Look for
places it could be lurking.
Four leaf clovers, pots of gold, the Irish, St. Patrick’s Day. Luck is our belief (or disbelief)
in a force that causes good to happen… or protects us against bad outcomes.
Scientists debate what’s going on when people experience good luck. One British
psychologist, Dr. Richard Wiseman, a fascinating scientist, skeptic, and magician is my
go-to-guy. He founded a luck school for losers.
What Wiseman found out after years of research is quite a lot of useful information
about how we can truly become “luckier.” Charmed. He found out his information from
studying lucky people.
As it turned out, lucky people really weren’t and aren’t any luckier in gambling games,
but they are much luckier in other ways. What are lucky people doing that’s different
from the rest of us? What makes them think they are lucky?
Lucky people create and notice more opportunities. They make better decisions. They are happier and more successful.
Wiseman showed that both good and bad luck result from specific behaviors and ways of thinking. For example, lucky people, by expecting good outcomes, persist in their work, resulting in more success.
Lucky people are often relaxed, open, and outgoing and therefore have many more novel encounters presenting more opportunities.
Lucky people also often see silver lining of bad experiences. This is one of my favorite
anecdotes. When Wiseman asked a man who broke his leg if he still felt lucky, the man
pointed out to Wiseman that he could have easily broken his neck, so he was quite lucky
to have only broken his leg.
Wiseman’s luck school successfully taught unlucky people new habits that led to them
becoming luckier. I have used a few of the ideas a lot, modified some, even taught them
to a group of high schoolers (the 1-day school of luck).
So here it goes - “How To Be Luckier.”
Specific behaviors we can monitor and evaluate which largely incorporate the principles
1. Did I smile and talk to at least one stranger today?
2. Did I do something like meditate, go for a walk, or listen to music to relax myself
3. Did I notice my thoughts and feelings today? (Just notice, no judgment)
4. Did I look on the bright side, see the silver lining, when something went wrong
5. Did I imagine something good happening in my future today?
6. Did I do something new or did I do something in a new way today?
7. Did I notice when lucky things happened? (keep a journal, remember, tell
someone about it)
What I can report is that even with rather sporadic and experimental use of one or more
of these behaviors, good luck seems to increase. The questions and diary keep people
focused on performing lucky behaviors and savoring lucky events which seems to open
the door for more good luck.
I notice when people are doing lucky and unlucky things. I make predictions in my mind
about whether various folks will turn out to be lucky people.
For example, I was on a flight to Quito a few years back. I sat beside a very engaging
young lady who asked about the book I was browsing (The Luck Factor). She asked
about the principles and took a picture of the cover.
I noticed that the young woman talked with others as we waited in line to get through customs. She had several recommendations of things to do and even invitations before we had even officially arrived in Quito!
I told her that I was quite sure she was going to be very lucky. She told me she already was.
On a different flight I sat beside a young man who said almost nothing to me except that
he really wanted this job he had just interviewed for. Had he talked more to me he
would have found out that I had a bit of connection to the company he interviewed with
- and had he struck me as a good prospect, I could have possibly put in a good word for
him. But that never happened.
The young man may get the job, but I predict he’ll have to change some of his behaviors if he’s going to be a lucky guy.
Several months ago, I was being shown around someone’s home. I knew the person had
lost several family members. I expected some trauma when she talked about it. Instead
what I heard was all about her “charmed life.” She laid it out. Camping trips, hikes
around the Valley, meeting new people along the way.
See what I’m saying? See some of those lucky principles she is using?
Now here’s a thought. What if we can even create lucky families, lucky communities,
lucky countries? I think we can.
We have more control over good fortune than we may think. Certain behaviors often
lead to good luck in life. March is a good time to experiment. People in different
locations celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in all sorts of ways. Why not include some lucky
behaviors this year and let’s see what happens?
How might we journey together to The Good Life by practicing lucky behaviors?
(I'm interested in your stories about being lucky and what you are doing or what you see others doing that brings or blocks luck. Feel free to email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Best of luck, June)