When it comes to luck, the world seems to fall into two categories: those who are lucky and those who aren’t. Some people seem to fall down the proverbial toilet and come up smelling of roses, no matter how highly the odds might seemed stacked against then. They’re ‘born lucky’ or have a ‘lucky streak’.
Conversely, there are those who seem to court misfortune wherever they go, no matter how much they try to do the right thing. While there are plenty of people who will offer you charms and potions to change your luck, the best tips have come from the world of psychology.
Dr Richard Wiseman spent ten years studying the phenomenon of good and bad luck. His research led him to investigate the habits, views and psychology of 1,000 people, some of whom professed to benefit continually from good luck and others who felt that they were at the mercy of bad luck. After a decade of experiments, he concluded that we do make our own luck and we can control it. Here are his five top tips on how to change your luck and make it work for you:
1) <!--[endif]-->Think lucky. Dr Wiseman believes that “lucky people are open to new ideas and are unafraid of change. They spot an opportunity and seize it, while the unlucky tend to be fixed in their ideas and are quick to give up when things go wrong. They become convinced that the Universe has something against them and keeps sending bad luck their way, so don’t even notice the lucky chances that are under their noses.” In short, if you are unlucky, the likelihood is that you are something of a pessimist. As a result, you’ll spend so much time focussing on what’s gone wrong that you’ll fail to notice the bigger picture. The first step towards changing your luck is to change your attitude. The more optimistic you are, the easier you’ll find it to spot those opportunities that once passed you by.
2) <!--[endif]-->Change your lifestyle. This might sound daunting, but even a few minor adjustments can help to sway fortune in your favour. One of Dr Wiseman’s experiments was to present both lucky and unlucky individuals with a newspaper and ask them to count the photographs in it within a certain time frame and claim a £200 reward. What he didn’t tell them was that, on the second page in font two inches high, was a notice that covered half the page, reading “Stop counting – there are 43 photographs in this newspaper”. The optimistic participants noticed this straight away. However, those with a pessimistic outlook failed to spot it as they were too concerned with fulfilling the task. They missed the opportunity. Wiseman observed that “lucky people are more relaxed and open and so they see what is there”. He also found that lucky people tend to have more friends, from whom they can seek advice. To change your lifestyle, you need to increase your circle of friends and change your routine. Joining a social networking group will bring you into contact with new and old friends, whilst doing something as simple as changing your route to work will provide new stimuli and a greater awareness of what is around you.
3) <!--[endif]-->Look for the silver lining. Dr Wiseman’s experiments also revealed that lucky people will always find the benefits of a bad situation. Instead of wallowing in what went wrong, they are prepared to accept that something has happened, but look for the possible positives involved. To change your outlook, you should always look for the good in a bad situation, no matter how remote it might seem. In addition, you should take some time to appreciate the things you have got in your life, rather than wasting time wanting things you don’t need. Count your blessings.
4) <!--[endif]-->Listen to your gut. Another interesting revelation was that lucky people are far more prepared to listen to their instinct than unlucky ones. Unlucky people tended surround themselves with unnecessary details and distractions that prevented them from really listening to their inner voice. Dr Wiseman’s advice is to practice meditation and consider which way you want your life to go. However, don’t focus on what you think is wrong with your life. Instead, concentrate on the things that would make you happy. In addition, unlucky people should try and trust their gut feelings more. Intuition can be a powerful tool – but only if you are prepared to listen to it.
5) <!--[endif]-->Presume your success. This is really about being optimistic, rather than arrogant. For example, an unlucky person going to a job interview is likely to entertain the idea that they’re not going to get the job anyway. Whilst this might be a self-protective approach, it leads to negative thoughts, such as “there are people here better qualified than me” or “I haven’t really got a chance”. These thoughts inform the way we behave and, whether you know it or not, you will be leaking negative energy and creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Once it has reached its inevitable conclusion, unlucky people tend to damn themselves for even trying and avoid similar scenarios in the future, thereby limiting their options and their potential for good luck. On the flip side, lucky people tend to believe they have as good a chance as anyone – if not, better. Again, this informs the way they will engage with their interviewers and stand them in better stead. However, if they don’t succeed, an optimist will shrug the experience off and move onto the next opportunity, thereby maximising their options and increasing their chances of success.
If Wiseman is to be believed, you can change your luck for the better, simply by changing the way you see and interact with the world. These tips are simple, practical and do-able – all you need to do is embrace them and make them part of your daily life. Pretty soon, they will become part of who you are, rather than a strategy you are practicing. Good luck!