Do you believe you are a lucky person? If so, you’ll probably acknowledge that some people are luckier than others, that you can you make your own good luck and that superstition plays a part in it.
I find this a fascinating subject: I even carry around lucky charms, which I like to believe work. But do they, really? Many others are intrigued too and there is a lot of ‘luck’ research out there. “Luck is a slippery subject,” says Maia Young (associate professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management). It is a hard thing to prove or disprove.
Professor Richard Wiseman* has spent 10 years studying the nature of luck and has identified four habits of lucky people all of which can be learnt:
- They are open to new things and opportunities: they step out of their comfort zone.
- They interact with many people and surround themselves with a mixed crowd.
- They break routines, changing the way they do things, mentally and physically.
- They have a relaxed attitude and the ability to keep mostly calm and positive.
However, One thing Richard doesn’t mention is confirmation bias, whereby if you believe something you will pay more attention to events that reinforce what you believe. So, if you are told you are lucky you will look for examples of how lucky you are. This can be shown very clearly if you ask people to keep ‘lucky journals’: those who do this interpret more things as lucky than those who don’t, though they all experience the same things. But does this matter? If you believe you are lucky you will feel lucky whether you are or not and with this come lots of positive social benefits.
In studies of lucky charms, it has been found again and again that people perform better on tasks when they have their lucky charm with them. The charm appears to boost confidence, which, in turn, aids performance. And so, if you believe in lucky charms, they will help you. I’ll be keeping mine with me.
Another good read on the subject of luck is Karla Starr book Can You Learn to Be Lucky? which shows you how you can improve your fortunes while expending minimal effort.
And Tina Seelig shares three unexpected ways to increase your luck as well as your ability to see and seize opportunities in her 10 minute TED talk – The Little Risks You Can Take To Increase Your Luck.
* Professor of Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. See The Luck Factor.