Learn To Be Lucky

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This time of year, luck is often top of mind — have you ever wondered why some people seem to live charmed lives, full of lucky breaks, while others fall victim to one misfortune after another?

In his landmark book, The Luck Factor, Professor Richard Wiseman from the University of Herefordshire in England, answers this question, coming to the promising conclusion that luck — good or bad — is purely a state of mind.

Wiseman exhaustively researched the beliefs, habits, and experiences of more than 400 people over several years. His findings: Luck is not the result of random chance, nor are people born lucky or unlucky. Instead, luckiness can be predicted by examining people’s patterns of thinking and behavior. In other words, luck can actually be learned. Here are four core principles underlying lives of good fortune.

1) Lucky people create chance events. They are adept at noticing and finding ways to act upon chance opportunities. They tend to be relaxed and open, often discovering possibilities well beyond what they were looking for. Unlucky people, by contrast, are more tense and myopic and avoid taking risks, preferring to stay in their comfort zones.
2) Lucky people produce success by relying on their intuition. They tend to go with their gut instincts while unlucky people tend to rely more on logic.
3) Lucky people expect good things to happen. They create self-fulfilling prophecies through positive expectations, knowing what they want and reinforcing it through positive, affirming self-talk. (They tell themselves how lucky they are.) By contrast, unlucky people tend to dwell on what they don’t want… which often turns out to be exactly what they get.
4) Lucky people display a high level of resilience that transforms bad luck into good luck. Wiseman’s lucky subjects were extremely persistent, while their unlucky counterparts gave up at the first signs of struggle.

One of the most striking contrasts from Wiseman’s research was the difference in how his lucky subjects re-framed unfortunate experiences compared to unlucky folks. Wiseman explains:

“I decided to present lucky and unlucky people with some unlucky scenarios and see how they reacted. I asked lucky and unlucky people to imagine that, while waiting in line in a bank, an armed robber enters, fires a shot, and the bullet hits them in the arm. Would this event be lucky or unlucky? Unlucky people tended to say that this would be enormously unlucky and it would be just their bad luck to be in the bank during the robbery. In contrast, lucky people viewed the scenario as being far luckier, and often spontaneously commented on how the situation could have been far worse. ‘It’s lucky because you could have been shot in the head — also, you could sell your story to the newspapers and make some money.”

As Wiseman’s research reveals, the differences between lucky and unlucky people have nothing to do with blind chance. Perhaps most encouraging, luckiness can be learned, a claim the author backs up by creating a “luck school” in which he coaches previously unlucky people to adopt measurable, luck-building behaviors. The results, according to Wiseman’s research, are dramatic. “Eighty percent of the ‘luck school’ students are now happier, more satisfied with their lives and, perhaps best of all, luckier.”

So, if you want good fortune, start telling yourself how lucky you are, act upon chance events, trust your instincts, and persistently go after your goals!

What is your reaction to Wiseman’s findings? What are your beliefs about luck? Do you consider yourself to be superstitious? (According to a 1996 Gallup Poll, 25% of Americans claimed to be somewhat to very superstitious.) Did anything in Wiseman’s research surprise you? If you lived out these four “luck-building” principles consistently, what would it mean to your personal brand… and to your life?

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    3 Responses to Learn To Be Lucky

    1. Beverly Snable March 17, 2017 at 9:40 pm #

      Thanks Bill for your posts!
      This is the first time I’ve been moved to reply. I believe all of lives circumstances are ordained by God our creator. Luck has nothing to do with it! As we follow our path Puting our trust in Jesus, “Obedience” is the key to every outcome in our journey on this earth
      God blesses His children according to the choices we chose to make. When we honor God in our lives, He rewards us accordingly. Luck has nothing to do with it! When we dishonor God in our choices we have consequences to pay, yet Our Loving Father chooses to use these moments as training and learning opportunities. Rewards, not luck, follow each Godly decision. Ask I have growen in my Faith over several years, God has been Faithful to show His rewards as I Trust Him!
      I hope you receive this reply in the Christian spirit of Love as it is intended.
      Bev Snable

    2. Bill Marsh Jr March 18, 2017 at 1:59 pm #


      Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I agree with you and I believe Wiseman’s book basically says the same thing (minus the reference to God, who created all things) in affirming that luck has nothing to do with it. The four principles I list in my post all revolve around “lucky people” making good choices and utilizing the resourcefulness and creativity that God created in them verses blaming outcomes on chance circumstances.
      The only point I may disagree with you is interpreting your circumstances in life as God’s blessing or God’s discipline. You can honor God in every way, for example, yet still face unexpected difficulties, disappointments, and unpleasant events. (or vica-versa) Yet we know from Romans 8 that God will work all things for good–even bad things that happen to us– if we remain faithful.
      Thank you again for engaging.

    3. Earl Gervais March 18, 2017 at 10:37 pm #

      Bill … the word confidence is a Latin root word .. Con means with and fidence means faith … so confidence means with faith. We should learn to live with confident expectation. I truly enjoyed this post and looking forward to going to the bank on Monday :-)

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