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How To Get Lucky: the Research and Practice

Updated: Mar 15

When it comes to luck, make your own. – Bruce Springsteen

I love the research on luck. It started for me when I first read The Luck Factor by British experimental psychologist and general skeptic, Richard Wiseman. He is a guy who loves exposing scams.  But when Wiseman started researching lucky people, he found something interesting. When “he pulled back the curtain," Wiseman noticed that these lucky people were thinking and acting in certain ways which upped the odds of them having good fortune.

As I have continued to look at the luck research I see parallels among “playing” rose, thorn, bud (as a self-regulating strategy for dealing with negativity bias) and the hero’s journey (as a way of pursuing meaningful goals and productively dealing with setbacks). See if you feel there’s some overlap in how lucky people go about getting lucky that touches on the rose, thorn, bud approach and the hero’s journey.

Wiseman proposed that lucky people persist in their work which results in more success - they expect positive outcomes. Lucky people are often open and outgoing and therefore have many more novel encounters presenting more opportunities.

Lucky people also often look on the bright side of 'bad' experiences. 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 started constructing luck schools for people and organizations. He taught unlucky people new habits that led them to becoming more fortunate. I want to make us more lucky too.

I asked my artificial intelligence buddy, chatgpt 3.5 to “Imagine being the top researcher on habits of thinking and behaving that lead to good fortune, that is, good luck. Then construct a 5 question quiz which can separate those likely to be lucky or unlucky in life.” Here was the result:


1.      How do you typically respond to unexpected challenges or setbacks in your life?

2.      Are you more inclined to take calculated risks or prefer to stick to familiar routines?

3.      Describe your approach to networking and building relationships with others.

4.      Do you believe in the power of positive thinking, and how often do you practice it?

5.      How do you handle opportunities that come your way, especially if they require stepping out of your comfort zone?


Then I asked my smart artificial intelligence buddy to “give some real examples of lucky people who show us with their lives the best response to these questions.” I was looking for exemplars in facing challenges with positivity, taking calculated risks, networking and building relationships, positive thinking, seizing opportunities even if they require stepping outside of our comfort zone. And these examples were given:


Richard Branson: Embraces challenges with positivity. Despite facing setbacks, he founded Virgin Group, turning it into a successful conglomerate. Elon Musk: Balances calculated risks and flexibility. Musk has taken bold risks with companies like SpaceX and Tesla while adapting strategies when needed. Oprah Winfrey: Actively builds meaningful connections. Her success stems not just from talent but also from her ability to connect with diverse audiences and build powerful relationships. Tony Robbins: Practices positive thinking. The motivational speaker overcame personal challenges and now helps others adopt a positive mindset for success. Warren Buffett: Seizes opportunities enthusiastically. Known for his keen investment decisions, Buffett capitalizes on opportunities and adapts his strategies to changing market conditions.


Those questions and examples might be helpful if you are trying to construct your own lucky, flourishing school of life AND we can also use rose, thorn, bud and hero’s journey strategies (see previous posts).  Personally, I have to make it even more specific. See what you think.

1.      Did I smile and talk to at least one stranger today (on the hero’s journey?)?

2.      Did I do something like meditate, go for a walk, or listen to music to relax myself and “smell the coffee” today (attention to the rose?)?

3.      Did I look on the bright side (look for silver linings?) when something went wrong today (working with the inevitable thorns? On the hero’s journey?)?

4.      Did I imagine something good happening in my future today (notice the bud?)?

5.      Did I do something new or did I do something in a new way today (on a hero’s journey? And maybe a little bud?)?

6.      Did I notice when good luck popped up for me – write it down or tell someone (notice a rose?)?

7.      Did I do something kind for someone (on the hero’s journey?)? 

8.      Did I write down or tell someone a couple of things I am grateful for today (noticing roses?)?

My friend, Dr. Gene Sharratt, whom I talk about a lot on this blog, has a mantra I have previously mentioned for planning each day. It’s a self-regulating tool as well. And it’s simple.  Think a good day, plan a good day, put good into each day.  The main point here is that we have more control over good fortune (and flourishing) than we may think. Certain behaviors often lead to good luck in life. March is the perfect month for trying out lucky behavioral and attitudinal (and rose, thorn, bud, and the hero’s journey) experiments.

How might we journey together to The Good Life by practicing lucky attitudes and behaviors?

(And thank you Glen for some beautiful mindful reflections …and the reminder for me, maybe us all, to “notice what I am noticing.” That’s a super important step in helping us regulate ourselves and take charge of our attention.  I am going to be sharing some of what he writes later. 

Also thank you to Kathy who sent me a very simple and useful piece on emotional intelligence which she saw in an orchard magazine.  Emotional intelligence is another way of thinking about yet similarly approaching self-regulation.

Also, I ran into a wonderful learning story related to getting stuck with a thorn from another reader AND a great little story involving my husband, John, which highlights how we can quickly switch from negative emotion to compassion…coming up as we continue our journey together. Thank you all and happy St. Patrick’s Day)






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