By Eric Barker
July 21, 2015
IDEAS
Barker is the author of Barking Up The Wrong Tree

Ever had a run of bad luck? It feels like the world is actively conspiring against you.

Ever wonder if you can improve your luck? And I don’t mean with voodoo or magic crystals.

Turns out somebody has done scientific research on luck. So I gave him a call.

Richard Wiseman is a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and the bestselling author of many books including: Luck Factor. (His excellent YouTube channel is here.)

Richard studied over 1000 people. And, yes, it turns out some people are very unlucky. Here’s Richard:

Ouch. Can you change your luck? Yes, you can. Here’s Richard:

Richard ran a series of experiments he called “Luck School” and taught unlucky people how to act more like lucky people do. The result?

Via Luck Factor:

And not only were they luckier afterward, tests results showed they were also happier.

Okay, so you don’t want the church to burn down before your wedding day. Want to go to “Luck School”? Here’s what Richard said about how you can get lucky…

 

1) Maximize Opportunities

It makes intuitive sense: if you lock yourself in your house, how many exciting, serendipitous things are going to happen to you? Not many.

In his book Luck Factor, Richard wrote: “Lucky people create, notice, and act upon the chance opportunities in their lives.” Here’s Richard:

Certain personality types are luckier because they tend to create scenarios that maximize opportunities and thereby increase luck. Who is more lucky?

  • People who are extroverted: More time with others, more interesting possibilities.
  • People who aren’t neurotic: Tense, anxious people are less likely to notice and take advantage of opportunities.
  • People who are open to new experiences: If you resist the new, you’re probably not going to have many interesting things happen.

And research shows that the old saying is true: “You regret most the things you did not do.” Over time, we tend to rationalize our failures. But we cannot rationalize away those things we never tried at all.

So keep trying new things. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always gotten.

(To learn how to make people like you, click here.)

Okay, so you’re doing more stuff. Great. But what about when it comes time to make decisions? What can we learn from lucky people?

 

2) Listen To Hunches

Lucky people act on their intuitions across many areas of their lives.

Via Luck Factor:

And intuition isn’t magic. Research has shown it’s often valid. Here’s Richard:

Want to increase luck in your life? Go with your gut more often.

(To learn the secret to being happier and more successful, click here.)

So what mindset should you take toward life if you want a visit from Lady Luck?

 

3) Expect Good Fortune

Plain and simple — it’s optimism.

You’re more likely to try new things, follow through on opportunities and have them succeed if you believe they’ll work out well.

Via Luck Factor:

And that optimism gives lucky people more “grit.” When you think things will work out, you persevere. And when you’re resilient, you give possibilities more time to work out in your favor.

Skeptics might be shaking their heads right now: But we all know people who aren’t just optimistic — they’re utterly deluded. Are you saying we should lie to ourselves?

Um… kinda. Turns out that while pessimists do see the world more accurately, optimists are more likely to be lucky because those delusions push them toward opportunities. Here’s Richard:

You heard that right: research shows that good luck charms work.

Via The Courage Quotient: How Science Can Make You Braver:

A number of studies have shown that being a little deluded does bring benefits:

The world can be hard. Sometimes life feels random. But research shows feeling you have some control — even if you don’t — is powerful.

(To learn how Navy SEALs develop grit and never give up, click here.)

But what happens when things still go wrong? What should you do when you’re acting like a lucky person but bad luck still whacks you in the face?

 

4) Turn Bad Luck Into Good

Lucky people aren’t always lucky — but they handle adversity differently than unlucky people.

Via Luck Factor:

  • Lucky people see the positive side of their bad luck.
  • Lucky people are convinced that any ill fortune in their lives will, in the long run, work out for the best.
  • Lucky people do not dwell on their ill fortune.
  • Lucky people take constructive steps to prevent more bad luck in the future.

How do you respond to disappointment?

Giving up, getting gloomy and locking yourself in the house won’t help the world offer you better opportunities. Here’s Richard:

Find the silver lining behind the cloud. And don’t assume there’s a cloud behind every silver lining.

(To learn how to overcome regret, click here.)

Let’s round this all up and learn the final (and most important) benefit of believing in luck.

 

Sum Up

Here’s what Richard had to say about how to attract good luck:

  1. Maximize Opportunities: Keep trying new things.
  2. Listen To Hunches: Especially if it’s an area where you have some experience, trust your intuition.
  3. Expect Good Fortune: Be an optimist. A little delusion can be good.
  4. Turn Bad Luck Into Good: Don’t dwell on the bad. Look at the big picture.

So maybe you’re still a skeptic. Even if luck is real, you don’t want to give in to delusion. Give it a shot anyway. There are other benefits. A little delusion can improve relationships.

People with positive illusions about their significant other are more satisfied, score higher on love and trust and have fewer problems. In fact, believing in luck might actually make you more fun.

Via The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane:

In the relatively brief time Richard spent with his test subjects he experienced a similar thing first-hand.

People who feel they are lucky are more charismatic. It felt good to be around them. Here’s Richard:

So put a good luck charm in your pocket. It looks like science is telling us that believing in luck might not only be the best way to be deluded, it might also be the key to a better life.

And if you enjoyed this post, share it with friends. We could all use some good luck. :)

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This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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