We all like to experience good luck
When it happens, it surprises and delights us, lifts our mood, makes us feel more generous and happy. We give and receive gifts that we hope will bring good luck. For instance, on the wall in my lounge, I have a beautiful picture of a single, stylised goldfish. It was given to me by a dear friend. It represents the gift of good luck in the form of tranquillity, wisdom and long life.
But what exactly is luck?
Seneca, Roman dramatist, philosopher and politician who lived 5 BC – 65 AD said,
“Luck is when preparation meets opportunity”.
Another definition of luck is, “serendipitous events occurring or discovered by chance in a happy or beneficial way, a kind of ‘happy accident’ that results in something valuable.”
Richard Wiseman, a psychologist and author of The Luck Factor, has spent years researching luck and serendipity. He aimed to find out why some people seem to be luckier than others.
A luck experiment
Entertainer, Derren Brown had a similar aim when he conducted a massive experiment about luck. The operation involved a whole town over a three month period. Both Richard Wiseman’s and Derren Brown’s conclusions may surprise you.
What makes some people lucky?
In the Derren Brown Experiment programme which aired in 2011, he used the whole town of Todmorden in the UK to find out what makes some people lucky, while others only attract misfortune. I highly recommend the programme as it has much to offer on so many levels; intrigue, the power of our minds, the energy of group consciousness, how attitude affects our luck. It was also incredibly entertaining!
Derren concluded that people create their own luck
Richard Wiseman drew a similar conclusion. He judged that some people are not luckier, just quicker to spot and seize opportunities in serendipitous situations.
So if, “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity”, if you create your own luck and if, to be luckier you need to spot and seize opportunities, what precisely can you do to increase your luck factor?
As far as I can tell there are four things you can do that will improve your chance of experiencing ‘happy accidents’ – or luck.
1. Chill out
Wiseman found that unlucky people tend to be tenser than lucky people. Anxiety or stress disrupts our ability to notice unexpected and possibly auspicious events or occurrences. The reason for this is that when we’re stressed, we operate using foveal vision (sometimes called tunnel vision). We direct our gaze toward the centre of our view, and this often means we miss things on the periphery; people, situations or events that might increase our luck factor.
When we’re relaxed, we use our peripheral vision
Peripheral vision enables you to take in the whole panorama of what’s happening in front of and around you. It makes total sense that you’re more likely to see opportunities if you’re relaxed and have expansive vision, than if you’re locked into your foveal vision and focused in a very narrow field. Rather than clutter this article with the details, checkout the quick and simple peripheral vision exercise.
2. Positive Beliefs
Do you believe you’re lucky or unlucky? It’s important not to underestimate the part that beliefs play in how lucky you might be. In Derren Brown’s experiment, the belief factor was almost painfully illustrated with Wayne, the local Todmorden butcher. Wayne believed he had nothing but bad luck. With this belief, Wayne was unable to even recognise three very ‘lucky’ opportunities placed explicitly in his way.
What do you believe about your luck?
Primarily beliefs act as filters of your experience; if you believe you’re lucky, you’re more likely to recognise and take up opportunities than if you think you’re unlucky. (You can read more about the impact of beliefs in my article How to free your mind from negative beliefs.)
The lucky charm phenomenon
Many people have a lucky mascot of some kind; something they associate with good fortune. Perhaps the person has experienced good luck while they’ve had the object with them and then associated their success with that object. Others may be tempted to buy a ‘lucky’ charm such as a four-leafed clover or lucky rabbit’s foot (even though it wasn’t too lucky for the rabbit!) and bestow the luck upon that item. It’s the belief in the power of that item to bring good luck that automatically increases the chances of it being lucky. If you believe lucky charms work to increase your luck factor, I say go for it!
3. Great Expectations
Your thoughts create your life. So as well as having positive beliefs it’s crucial to expect good things. If this isn’t a habit for you yet, you could always begin with a simple exercise to refocus your thinking. One such practice is to look for three favourable occurrences each day. Write these things down somewhere, in your diary, journal or even on your computer. The writing is an essential component of this exercise because once you’ve been doing it for a few days, you’ll notice yourself looking for good things to write about; you’ll begin creating positive expectations.
4. Seize opportunities
Before you can even seize opportunities, you have to be open to them. The more open you are to new ideas or ways of doing things, the more likely it is that you’ll see those opportunities. But even if you’re chilled out, have positive beliefs and great expectations, your luck is more likely to increase if you take advantage of serendipitous events by seizing the opportunities they create.
The word serendipity implies ‘happy coincidence’. So overthinking about where your actions might lead and then deciding whether or not you should take action, is contrary to attracting luck. You can’t know in advance where actions or situations will lead you, yet there are many instances where just ‘going with the flow’ or following your ‘gut feel’ have led to serendipitous events. Coincidences are like that!
Luck is only apparent when you’ve experienced it.
I know this is stating the obvious, but the point is that only with hindsight can you connect the dots and determine how your stroke of good fortune eventuated. Without the expectation of and belief that you attract good fortune – it’s unlikely you will. And if you’re not reasonably relaxed and ready to recognise and seize opportunities, then there won’t be any dots to connect!
So open your mind to the possibility of having more luck and no doubt you will!
And in case you need something else to improve your luck factor – I wish you all the luck in the world!