4 Ways to Improve Your Luck

photo credit: *~Dawn~* via photopin cc.

You have the friend who wins every raffle contest she signs up for, lands every job she applies for, and finds money on the street. You also have the friend who has broken nearly every bone in her body, has had had her identity stolen more than once, and who gets mugged in the street. Perhaps you identify with one of these women. Why do some people have good luck and others have bad luck?

Thanks to the research of Richard Wiseman, who holds Britain’s only Professorship in the Public Understanding of Psychology, at the University of Hertfordshire, we have a greater understanding of what makes people lucky.

Professor Wiseman has found that luck is more about people's thoughts and behaviors than about chance or being Irish. He offers four principles that lucky people follow, and that you can start to follow as well to improve your luck.

Principle 1:  Create and notice chance opportunities

In Wiseman's study of unlucky and lucky people, he set up an experiment in which his subjects were asked to count the number of pictures in a newspaper. On the second page, there was a statement which told people to stop reading and the number of pictures in the newspaper. The lucky people noticed it, but the unlucky people continued counting. Lucky people notice opportunities more often than unlucky people. Lucky people create chance opportunities in their lives as well, for example, they do not always stick to the same routine, but rather do new things on purpose, speak to new people, and they are more open to different possibilities.


According to personality testing, lucky people are less anxious and tense than unlucky people. Anxiety constricts one's ability to be open, so anxiety gets in the way of creating and noticing chance opportunities. In order to truly make the most of principle one, it's important to get a handle on your anxiety.


Principle 2:  Listen to your intuition

Wiseman found that lucky people make decisions listening to their hunches and gut feelings, in other words, their intuition. He also notes that lucky people take efforts to develop their intuition, through activities such as meditation. Improving your intuition is another way you can increase your luck.

Principle 3:  Have positive expectations and create self-fulfilling prophecies

Lucky people have faith that the future will be bright. These positive expectations help people persist and and live up to such expectations no matter what. Believing that life will be great also sets them up to be more positive, happy and friendly people in general, and as a result, they create more desirable realities than their unlucky counterparts. Lucky people seem to embody many common mental skills of winners.

Principle 4:  Turn bad luck into good luck

Wiseman wondered how lucky people and unlucky people might react differently in the face of misfortune. To test this, he asked his participants how they would react to being at a bank during an armed robbery and getting shot in the arm.

Unlucky people noted how unlucky this was, but lucky people felt fortunate that they did not get shot somewhere worse. One lucky person even noted that this could be an opportunity to sell your story to the papers in order to make money. 

Wiseman was curious if people could change their luck by applying these principles, so he set up an experimental "luck school" to see what would happen to people who consciously practiced these principles for a month. He found that the overwhelming majority of them improved their luck dramatically in just a month. Unlucky people became lucky and lucky people became even luckier. 

You can read more about Wiseman's research on luck in his book, The Luck Factor: The Scientific Study of the Lucky Mind. Practice these principles for a month to see what happens to your luck, and be ready for fortune when it comes knocking.

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