Luck

I have just finished reading the The Luck Factor by Richard Wiseman who is a psychologist who used to be a magician, and has been studying what causes  people to perceive themselves as lucky or unlucky. Luck is not a concept that I would normally use to think about myself or my life. I associate it with gambling, or random chance, so at face value it doesn’t seem to be a helpful principle to organise your life around. I was pleasantly surprised that The Luck Factor provides some valuable insights into what causes people to perceive themselves as being fortunate, and having a good life. Rather than promoting a superstitious, random form of luck, the book identifies specific behaviours that can lead to more positive experiences. These are presented in the form of four principles of luck:

1. Maximise your chance opportunities

2. Listen to Your Lucky Hunches

3. Expect Good Fortune

4. Turn Your Bad Luck Into Good.

The theory is that “lucky” people act in such a way that they promote good things happening to them. They are relaxed and open to life, so they have good relationships with people, and attract more positive interactions and opportunities. They listen to their intuition, and expect good things to happen to them. If something bad does happen, they tend to find a way to see the positive side, and don’t dwell on misfortune. Although these behaviours come naturally to some people, they can also be broken down into skills that can be learned to increase the number of positive experiences.

I found principle 2 interesting because I have been working with intuition and exploring how it can enhance my life experience. According to Richard Wiseman’s research, one difference between lucky and unlucky people is that lucky people pay attention to their intuition, whereas unlucky people ignore it. This is encouraging because it suggests that intuition can be a valuable tool for making decision, and its the ability to discern it and act on it that needs to be developed.

The other principles are more of a challenge as I am not  a naturally gregarious person, and tend to be reserved about my expectations of what is possible. I can sometimes get too caught up in bothering about things that have gone wrong. Because lucky people expect things to turn out well, they make a lot of effort to be sure that they get the outcome they want whereas unlucky people tend to give up more easily. In this sense, luck becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. People are lucky because they expect to be, and that leads them to attract advantageous situations.

I am still not entirely comfortable with the concept of labelling people as “lucky” and “unlucky”. We all have our own unique circumstances of heredity and experience that contribute to our personality and behaviour. I don’t want to suggest that focussing on being lucky is a quick fix to turn your life around. However I do think that there is a lot of value in the principles put forward in the Luck Factor. I am interested in exploring how being open to opportunity and expecting good fortune impact on my day to day experience.

PS. Thanks to the blogger who recommended The Luck Factor recently. I read about it in another blog but have lost track of where I came across it.

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