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What Makes Some People Lucky

Updated on July 14, 2013

Superstition and Luck

What does superstition have to do with luck?
What does superstition have to do with luck? | Source

What does Luck Have to Do With It

Is there a reason some people are luckier than others?

Luck is defined as achieving success or failure through chance, rather than by a person's own actions.

Some research suggests that people who think and behave like a lucky person have increased levels of luck, greater self esteem and confidence, and more success. Professor Richard Wiseman, psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire explored luck and superstition.

Wiseman wrote a book called the Luck Factor . He spent ten years researching people’s perceptions of their luck. He found that people who considered themselves lucky were more extraverted. Extraversion is one of the traits on the Big Five Factor scale of personality.

The Big Five Factor personality traits also include openness, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and neuroticism. People who considered themselves lucky also scored higher on the range of openness, and lower for neuroticism.

The Luck Factor

Believe You Are Lucky

Those of us who are open minded tend to find luckier breaks. Some people look for opportunities and because of this, are able to grab the moment, and may see possibilities other people miss. Wiseman believes this could be because outgoing people meet others who may connect them to more fortuitous encounters. These personalities also may experience less negative emotions such as anxiety, guilt, anger, and depression.

Wiseman believes there are things people can do to make themselves luckier. According to Wiseman there are several scientifically proven techniques that help to make a person more fortunate.

  • Work hard and recognize opportunities as they present themselves.

  • Be aware of your surroundings and people around you so that you can make logical evaluations and use your instinct.

  • Take risks, take action, explore, discover, make contacts with people.

  • Think positive. Being optimistic improves your chances of success. If things don’t work out as well as you thought, learn from the lesson and move forward, wiser for the experience.

Wiseman’s research led him to conclude that people who are lucky, believe in the possibility of things. His research was conducted with interviews and questionnaires. He divided the participants by who felt they were lucky and unlucky. The experiment involved giving both groups a newspaper and asked them to count the number of photographs that were in the paper. The people who labeled themselves unlucky took two minutes to count the pictures. The lucky ones took a mere few seconds.

How did the lucky people determine the number of photographs so quickly. The answer - on page two, it said “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” The unlucky people did not see the message. Their focus was solely on counting the photos, so they didn’t see the message. This study is analogous to the missed opportunities that present themselves when they are limiting their focus. People socialize desiring to find a mate and miss out on making new friends.

They search for a job, by focusing only on a certain type of job, and miss other opportunities. Lucky people are more open to new opportunities, and more relaxed about what they may find. Lucky people take on a more perspective and often reframe the negative experiences they encounter.

Lucky Symbols

All cultures believe in luck
All cultures believe in luck | Source

A Positive Attitude

In another experiment, using one person who felt they were unlucky and another person who felt things always worked out well for them and put money on a path they each walked, and planted a businessman with connection next to their seat at a coffee shop counter in what seemed like a chance encounter. The person who felt lucky noticed the money and put it in their pocket. When they sat at the coffee shop , they started talking to the businessman. The person who felt unlucky, didn’t notice the money and walked right over it. When they drank their coffee, they stayed to themselves and didn’t say anything to the businessman next to them.

Taking a positive outlook by believing that things that don’t work out the way we thought they would, still will work out for the best is something that lucky people naturally think.

So how do you make your own luck?

  • Networking, socializing, being comfortable with yourself, and being open to new experiences helps open doors and create opportunities that can lead you to helping things go your way.

  • Trusting your instinct, listening to your intuition, paying attention to your gut feelings. You can enhance your inner feelings by taking time to meditate, to clear your mind, and take the necessary moments to relax. Doing these things help you get in touch with your own hunches.

  • People who are lucky believe they will have good fortune. Expectations can become self fulfilling prophecies.

  • Lucky people have good coping skills to deal with the good and bad that befall them. Often these people look at the ‘silver lining’. Their positive thinking allows them to still feel lucky, despite what they might be dealing with. They don’t dwell on the negative, so the negative does not dominate the situation or their mind.

  • Changing our habits can change the way we think about things. When we are in a better mood and think more positive we may see things in a different light that can create major life transformations and bring the good fortune we have been waiting for.

  • Try to reduce your anxiety. Anxiousness and fearfulness can give a person tunnel vision and can cause a person to miss out on opportunities that would help make things better.

You Make Your Own Luck

Some people have all the luck
Some people have all the luck | Source

Opportunities and Luck

Luck is a hard topic to study. But from what psychologists can deduce from their knowledge about personalities, people who have a more open and relaxed approach to life, tend to be more flexible.

A psychology professor, Elizabeth Nutt Williams,from St. Mary's College in Maryland did a study among professional career women. She found that chance was a big factor in helping shape the career paths of the 13 women she studied. Women who were more self confident, took risks and took advantage of coincidental opportunities tended to be luckier than those who didn't. Having a strong support system was also associated with these women being luckier.

In a North Carolina State University study 42 engineering workers who were interviewed said that job tips often come in ways they didn't expect. When a person has a direction, and knows what they want for themselves, they can see opportunities that make for luck. They also felt that if they believed in themselves and had the confidence to get there, they would see alternatives to obstacles and create better situations for themselves.

People who are open versus people who are closed. People who are open believe the things they are doing will lead them to meet someone new. People who are closed don’t. An open person will be flexible and general with a clear direction of what they want. This allows them to have many paths towards their aim. A closed person will have a narrow view of what they want, and may have difficulty adjusting to the twists and turns that they encounter along the way.

People who are more flexible respond differently than people who are more rigid. Flexibility allows someone to take a different route to work, which may allow them to meet someone new with new opportunities. New things can create good fortune.

Opportunities come to people who have a large network of friends and acquaintances, whether in person, or online.

What is Luck?

The options and opportunities we look for help us to be lucky.
The options and opportunities we look for help us to be lucky. | Source

Big Five Personality Traits and Luck

The ability to think out of the box, and look at things from a different angle. Flexibility can give a person the ability to respond to the same stimuli than people who are closed and rigid. Doing things differently or taking a new approach can increase a person’s good fortune. By changing some of our routine, we may encounter new experiences.

Being in a more positive mood helps a person take in more visual information. In a study done at the University of Toronto, it was found that people in bad moods are more closed and take in less information. Anxiety can also cause a person to have tunnel vision, because their focus is the potential danger. All the extraneous stuff gets filtered out. When we narrow our focus too much, we see less.

In looking at the other Big Five Personality Factors, conscientiousness is associated with achievement, following orders, adhering to what is expected. Conscientious people often have persistence. This could actually interfere with encountering opportunities.

Learning to have a better understanding of a topic often leads to better long term results. The older a person is, the less open they are to new opportunities. People in their teens and their 20s tend to be more open and flexible, and are learning about themselves, and discovering themselves. Older people may not be open to new things as much as younger people are.

People who are willing to try new things, don’t worry so much about what could go wrong, they are just looking at the possibilities new things bring. Good results bring a a feeling that they can achieve.

Good luck is a very good thing. So instead of wishing you good luck, I wish you flexibility and openness to new experiences so that you see opportunities as they arise and you make the best of it all!

Are You Lucky?

Do You Feel Like You Are a Lucky Person

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Does Luck Just Happen?

Do you think people make their own luck or luck just happens

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