Do you consider yourself lucky or unlucky? According to a 10-year-study you make your own luck. We all do, actually. The good news is that this means you can increase the amount of luck you “run into.” Study after study has shown evidence against very common superstitions that involve luck. Some superstitions even contradict themselves across cultures. For example, while some cultures say it is bad luck if a black cat crosses your path, others claim it is good luck.
So then, the question becomes, “Why do some people seem to be consistently luckier than others?” If luck is not real why are there people who appear to live charmed lives while others seem to experience bad luck at every turn? Research suggests that regardless of whether you consider yourself lucky or unlucky, your thoughts and behavior are “responsible for much of your [good or bad] fortune.”
There are four principles that can be beneficial in generating good fortune:
1. Skill at creating and noticing chance opportunities
2. Creating luck by listening to your own intuition
3. Create self-fulfilling prophesies through positive expectations
4. Adopting a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good
Creating and Noticing Chance Opportunities
This first principle is responsible for many cases of “lucky” lives. Lucky folks tend to be more relaxed and open than unlucky folks. Unlucky people live in a place of tension and anxiety that often prevents them from realizing opportunities when they do arise. In addition, unlucky people tend to hyper-focus on what they are looking for and as a result they often miss chance encounters and unexpected opportunities. It is precisely these moments that frequently create what you might recognize as “luck.” Conversely, lucky people, being more relaxed and open, see the opportunities that are all around them rather than only what they are looking for, creating for themselves – luck!
Another piece of this principle is being open to and creating change in your life. Lucky people go out of their way to be sure they vary their routine and meet new people. In my practice I emphasize to clients that “nothing changes unless something changes.” A small change can create big waves. If you talk to the same people every day, eat lunch at the same restaurants, order the same food, watch the same programs… what changes? Mix it up a little and you increase the likelihood of chance encounters and new opportunities. In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Our lives are defined by opportunities, eve the ones we miss.”
My son played football with a friend who was flying home from college for summer break. He was telling a seatmate what he was studying when the guy in the seat on his other side overheard and started visiting with him. Turns out, the guy was in charge of hiring a summer intern that paid very well and was a great opportunity. My son’s friend got “lucky” because he was on a flight, which was not his typical routine, and he was open to this unexpected encounter and chance opportunity.
One more story: I have a colleague who is very successful at a young age. She told me that many people envy her and she often attributes much of her success to luck. However, she continued, “I have to stop and remind myself that I took a lot of risks and worked my butt off to get here!”
Creating Luck by Listening to Your Own Intuition
Are you familiar with the 90s sitcom Seinfeld? There is a pessimistic character on the show named George. In one episode the topic of the “Little Man” comes up. You know the Little Man – he can be likened to the shoulder angel from the old cartoons, the one who whispers advice and tells you your best move. As this discussion progresses George, true to form, says, “My Little Man is an idiot!”
The truth is that the Little Man is there for a reason, and if you have lost touch with him, maybe it’s time to reconnect. Listen to the Little Man. He is very wise and his voice is one of reason and wisdom. Intuition is a gift. Pay attention to it.
Remember the stories from September 11th survivors who were in the Twin Towers when the planes hit? Many of them made comments such as, “Something was telling me to use the other staircase,” “Something told me to go down rather than up,” or “Something told me to open that door.” Perhaps that “something” is intuition. How often do you think your Little Man is an idiot and choose to disregard that “something” that tells you to go right rather than left? Another advantage to listening to your Little Man is that it can help you to be more optimistic in your thinking/living because you learn to trust your own judgment.
Creating Self-fulfilling Prophecies through Positive Expectations
Ah, yes… think and it will happen! Actually, there’s a little more to it than that. If all you had to do was think positively about things to make them happen you would already be rich, successful and have a killer body! What positive thinking does is influence our thinking, which in turn influences our behavior which can, indeed, influence external events.
Positive thinking and positive expectations change the way you think; they change what you expect. Additionally, they open up connections in your brain. However, thinking positive thoughts can be effective only if you allow your thoughts to alter your behavior. Otherwise, all the thinking in the world will come to nothing. As I’ve said before, action matters. You have to do something.
Incidentally, the opposite also holds true. If you believe you have bad luck your thoughts and behavior are likely to create this reality in your life. You will inadvertently teach yourself to miss opportunities through negative self talk, “Why even try? With my luck it won’t work out anyway…” Similarly, you are also less likely to see the opportunities that do appear because you have learned to miss them.
Adopting a Resilient Attitude that Transforms Bad Luck into Good
This principle considers the way you deal with what shows up in your life. If you throw your hands in the air and submit to the forces of “bad luck” (even though luck, technically, does not exist) you will probably continue to experience bad luck. If you fall back into, “Why me? Nothing ever works out for me!” it is likely that nothing will. Let’s get this straight: Things don’t work out. Ever. People work and make things happen, simple as that. Coleman Cox said, “The harder I work, the more luck I have.” (This quote is often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, but in fact, these words have never been discovered in any of his writing.)
When you experience trials and obstacles circle the wagons and begin again. Ask yourself this question: If you were on vacation on a beautiful island and you survived a tsunami that hit, would you consider yourself lucky that you survived or unlucky because you were there during a natural disaster? Be honest in your answer. Think about how you typically view events such as this. Your answer can help you understand why you continually have good or bad “luck.”
When all is said and done, luck is not born, it’s made. It does not just happen through pixie dust and dandelion seeds. It is created by the way you think, interpret and respond to what occurs in your life. If you have had your “share of bad luck” perhaps it is time to examine your contributions to the way things work out for you. If you tend to live a charmed life, you can increase that as well be examining your thought processes and the way you go through your day. The good news is that you are in control of your life and you can change numerous aspects of it.
So… feeling lucky? Me? I make my own luck.