The Psychology of Luck
13th October, 2010
Can we really make our own luck? Some Psychologists now believe that we can. Dr Richard Wiseman in particular has studied the subject of luck and carried out some interesting research in this area. You are probably asking two questions “can anyone do this”? and “How can I bring more good luck into my life”.
I’ll answer them in that order. Yes, in theory anyone can do this. It involves taking on board the attitudes and behaviour of lucky people. Hence I say in theory as we all encounter some resistances when attempting change some people more so than others. Of course all learning involves change. How do we learn? By observing others who are already skilled in the area in which we wish to gain competence and copying their behaviour. This is how we learn to drive, dance, cook, in fact acquire any new skill.
Dr Richard Wiseman studied the behaviour of individuals who considered themselves lucky and those who believed themselves to be unlucky
He found marked differences in the attitudes and behaviours of the two groups.
Here are the characteristics that he found in the lucky group.
1. They notice and act upon the chance opportunities, which occur in their lives. Lucky people tend to be extroverts. Not only do they get out and socialise but they are also attracted to work that involves contact with large numbers of people. Being outgoing they are also happy to chat with strangers. The more people we meet the higher chance that some of them will impact positively on our lives.
Lucky people tend to engage in a particular type of body language. They make greater eye contact and smile more frequently than unlucky people.
2. Lucky people make decisions using their intuition. We are learning all the time from the day that we are born. All the knowledge we possess is not constantly present in our awareness. For example if I asked you what you had for lunch yesterday or to name the capital of Sweden you would draw on your memory to answer. Lucky hunches that people experience have much to do with acquired knowledge. This knowledge surfaces into consciousness just at the time we need it bringing what seems like an inspired answer to a problem.
We can’t define how we reached the answer in the same way that we can when an answer is reached by logical deduction.
A good example of this is the person who despite never being in a particular building before locates the fire extinguisher when fire breaks out. He may have made a mental note of where the fire extinguisher was when he passed it on entering the building. This information probably remained in his conscious awareness for only seconds before passing to his unconscious level of mind or memory.
Or having frequently visited similar buildings in the past may have informed him as to the location of the fire extinguisher. Consciously he will express surprise at knowing the location of the fire extinguisher.
The difference between lucky and unlucky people is that lucky people are more likely to follow their hunches.
This frequently seems to play in an important part in their personal and professional relationships. They have strong hunches about who to trust and do business with or get close to on a personal level.
3. Lucky people expect to have good fortune. The way we view our circumstances very much influences the outcomes that we will experience.
Imagine for example that you have decided to buy a new washing machine.
You become very aware of washing machines. You see advertisements for them on television in the press, on the Internet. You even begin to over hear conversations about the benefits and flaws of certain models. Why? Because you have tuned to the subject of washing machines. All this information was around you previously you simply weren’t giving your attention to it.
Take two people with a similar problem one considers themselves lucky the other unlucky. The lucky individual will think of how to solve the problem and tune into possible solutions.
The unlucky individual will spend time worrying about the problem. This diverts his/her metal energy from solving it. Potential solutions will be likely to pass the person by. He/she doesn’t see them due to being mentally locked into the problem
4. A wise philosopher once said, “nothing is good or bad only thinking makes it so”. Certainly the way we view so called bad luck will impact on its ongoing influence in our lives. Many lucky individuals describe how happenings that seemed like bad luck at the time worked out well in their lives. Such as the broken engagement that ultimately lead to meeting a more suitable life partner. Or the unsuccessful job interview that left the way open for the great career opportunity that arose shortly afterwards. Or perhaps lead to a decision to retrain which much improved the individual’s level of job satisfaction. Put another way life is 10% what happens to us and 90% what we do with it.
Lucky people seem to instinctively realise this.
Another characteristic of lucky people is that they take action to achieve their goals. You can begin to improve your luck right now by building into your life some of the attitudes and behaviours of lucky people that I’ve described here.
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