I’ve always been lucky. I don’t mean winning-the-lottery lucky, but lucky in the sense that everything in my life has kind of always worked out. If you believe that luck is a magical power that is bestowed by an external deity…well, you probably hate me a little bit right now. Personally, I think that luck is at least 50% attitude. And that means there are things that every single one of us can do to make ourselves more lucky.
1. Believe you’re lucky
Lucky people believe that they’re lucky, so they expect good things to happen to them. And guess what? Good things do happen. Sounds weird, right? But it really works.
And the reason it works is because of what psychologists call a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fear not, there are no crystal balls and tarot cards involved in this kind of prophecy. It’s the scientific term for a belief that comes true, because we are acting as if it’s already true.
For example, say I believe that nobody likes me. During my first day at a new job, I’ll probably be very suspicious of people and act a little sullen and resentful (why wouldn’t I, with all those judgemental, unfriendly eyes looking me up and down?). Acting that way isn’t exactly going to win me lots of friends. So as a consequence of how I acted, odds are my new colleagues won’t like me. I made the prophecy come true, by acting as if it already was true.
Compare that with someone who believes she always gets along well with new people. Her first day on the job will involve more smiles, more eye contact, she’ll ask questions and show interest in her colleagues. People are much more likely to respond positively to her than to miserable-me in the first example. Both of us got exactly the results that we expected, because we acted as if it was true.
It’s the same with luck. Believing you’re more lucky leads you to act in a way that’s more likely to allow good things to happen to you.
2. Be bold
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take – Wayne Gretzky.
As we learned above, it doesn’t hurt to give it a go. Expect success, ask with a smile, and who knows what might happen? Lucky people are more likely to take risks. And just by giving it a go, they’re infinitely more likely to have something pay off than someone who didn’t take even take a shot.
3. Celebrate the tiny wins
Luck isn’t necessarily winning a beachside mansion in a charity lottery, hitting the jackpot in Vegas, or winning a trip to Disneyland. Luck can come in any form, and it’s important to acknowledge and appreciate it wherever you find it. Tell the universe (or whatever you believe in) that you’re grateful for the small things, and more will come your way.
Whenever I find a penny in the streets, I pick it up and say a quick thank-you to the universe before pocketing it*. Does that mean I’m more likely than you to find spare change lying unwanted in the gutter? Who knows? But there’s certainly no harm in it. Perhaps ‘rewarding’ myself like this might encourage my subconscious to pay extra attention to shiny objects in my peripheral vision. So why not give it a go?
* In the interest of complete honesty here, what I actually do is pick it up, run a quick mental replay of the scene from Grease where Jan says “see a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck” *THEN* I put it in my pocket.
4. Chill out, girlfriend
It turns out that lucky people are more relaxed than their pessimistic/unlucky friends. And this means they’re more likely to notice any unexpected opportunities that flit across their path. My favourite example of this comes from a study conducted in the 1990s by Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in Britain. He studied people who self-identified as either consistently lucky or unlucky. In one experiment, he gave each participant a newspaper and asked them to count the number of photos it contained.
The people who thought they were unlucky took around two minutes on average to count all the photos. The lucky people averaged just a few seconds.
Why? Because on page two, he’d written a message in 2-inch high letters that said “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” The unlucky people were more anxious and less calm than the lucky people. As a consequence, they were so busy focusing on the photographs that they didn’t notice the message. Lucky people were less tense, so were more likely to notice and pay attention to the shortcut on page two.
5. Trust your instincts
Lucky people listen to their gut. When there’s a difference of opinion between their brain (my hotel is just two blocks away) and their intuition (I don’t have a good feeling about walking alone tonight), lucky people will trust their feelings. Wiseman found that almost 90% of people who believed they were lucky said they trusted their gut when it came to personal relationships, and 80% of them when it came to career. Unlucky people were about 20% less likely to trust their instincts than the lucky ones.
Richard Wiseman’s findings are fascinating. There are plenty more examples in his book – The Luck Factor. Click to read reviews on Amazon.
6. Always look on the bright side of life
Look, nobody is lucky all the time. Shit happens. The thing is, people who believe they’re more lucky than average consider any evidence of bad fortune as being temporary. People who think they’re persistently unlucky, on the other hand, will seize onto the negative experiences as being the ’norm’ and write off lucky incidents as being one-offs.
Lucky people either don’t dwell on the bad, try to see the positive side, or convince themselves that any episodes of bad luck will work out for the best in the long run.
7. Count your blessings
Gratitude – it’s like a magical superpower that every one of us has, but only some choose to use. There’s loads of scientific research about the positive effects of feeling and expressing gratitude. It can increase happiness, improve self-esteem, help you sleep better, increase energy and make you more optimistic. And it’s this increase in optimism and positivity that has the greatest effect on luck. Believe you’re lucky, and both your subconscious and the Universe will conspire to prove you right.
So that’s it – 7 simple things that you can start to do today that will help you become more lucky.
If the thought of starting a gratitude journal or taking more risks causes you to break out in a cold sweat, then just work on number one. Believe you are lucky, and actively seek out evidence to prove yourself right.
Start with the easy things. Did you wake up warm and safe with a roof over your head? That makes you luckier than 75% of the people alive on planet Earth right now. Acknowledge it, be grateful for it, celebrate it. Make it a game – challenge yourself to find evidence that you’re actually a really lucky person. If you consciously devote attention to proving what a lucky person you are, you’ll end up noticing more and more good things happen to you.
And once you genuinely believe you’re lucky, you’ll attract more and more luck into your life. Give it a go, and let me know what happens for you!
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