How you can improve your luck
The Luck Factor
After studying luck for about a decade, Richard learned that some of us are luckier than others, but it’s not all about chance. It is a skill that can be learned.
His studies involved 1000 exceptionally ‘lucky’ and ‘unlucky’ people. The people who considered themselves lucky always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, but the unlucky participants felt like things never worked out well for them.
What Richard discovered was that, for the most part, they were creating their own good and bad luck from the way they were thinking and behaving. So, by convincing the unlucky people to think and behave like a lucky person, their luck might actually change.
So how can you learn to be more lucky?
1. Be relaxed
In one experiment, participants were asked to count the number of photos in a newspaper. What they weren’t told was that there were two massive opportunities within the newspaper: one half-page advertisement that read, “Stop counting, there are 54 photographs in here,” and another that said, “Tell the experimenter you’ve seen this and win £100.” The unlucky people would come in, count the photographs and miss the opportunities. But the lucky people would soon be asking for their £100.
What role does luck play in your life successes?
Is chance much more significant than people give it credit for?
The results were all to do with what’s called the attentional spotlight. When we look at the world, we only see a small part of it and when we become very anxious that focus becomes even smaller.
Unlucky people feel very anxious so they see less. Lucky people have a much larger attentional spotlight, so they are more able to see these opportunities and move forward. If you can feel more relaxed, your luck might just improve.
2. Be open to opportunities and make the most of them
In a similar vein, unlucky people tend to be very inflexible, whereas lucky people love new experiences.
3. Be optimistic
Expect the future to be bright. If we can change the way we see ourselves and our ‘unlucky’ narrative it will have a huge impact on our future happiness and success.
Why coincidences happen to some people more than others
Professor David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University has been collecting stories of coincidence since 2011.
4. Use counter-factual thinking
In another experiment, Richard would tell participants to imagine a scenario in which a bank robber shoots them in the arm. He would then ask, “Are you lucky or unlucky?” The lucky people would say, “Wow, just my good luck. Could have been my heart!” Whereas the unlucky people would say, “I’ve just been shot in the arm – why are you even asking the question?!”
Unlucky people feel very anxious so they see fewer opportunities. Lucky people have a much larger attentional spotlight, so they are more able to see these opportunities and move forward. If you can feel more relaxed, your luck might just improve.
When events happen, like the hypothetical shooting, we should force ourselves to do counter-factual thinking. What would be even worse than the thing that’s actually happened? It can help to change our perceptions very quickly and put us firmly in the lucky camp.
5. Be resilient
Bad things will happen to all of us but whether you consider yourself unlucky or lucky will dictate how resilient you will be – and your sense of luck going forward.
6. Use your intuition
Lucky people tend to trust their intuitions. Listen to your gut!