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Make Your Own Luck

Dec 12 2011 8:19am EDT

One of the most underrated qualities a person can have is luck. And whether or not you are actually luckier than most is less important than whether or not you feel you are luckier than most.

Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, wanted to know if people’s idea of their own luck affected their actions. First, Wiseman asked participants a series of questions to figure out if they considered themselves lucky. Then he gave lucky and unlucky people a copy of a newspaper and asked them to count the number of photographs. Amazingly, on average, the unlucky people took two minutes to count all the photographs, and the lucky ones determined the number in only a few seconds.

The lucky people were able to complete the mission quickly because most of them found a message on the second page that said: “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” The unlucky people were so intent on counting that they missed the opportunity to read the answer. Unlucky people tend to miss opportunities for jobs, romantic partners, and even friends because they are less open to the perfect match just finding them. Lucky people tend to be open-minded, curious, and open to new ideas—and this is where good opportunities breed.

So, how can we create more luck in our own lives?

  1. Start counting the reasons you are lucky. Make a routine that every day or once per week you go through your life and remind yourself of all the ways you are lucky. I like to do this while I brush my teeth—I call it the gratitude brush. Even if I have woken up in a bad mood or had an awful day, this exercise makes me rethink my own luck and circumstances; it also makes me more grateful.
  2. Set higher goals. According to a a study published online in the Journal of Consumer Research, being more ambitious actually makes you happier. Those who set high goals are more satisfied than their counterparts with lower expectations. Having higher goals and then achieving them will help you feel more lucky and positive. University of California-Riverside professor Cecile K. Cho had one group of research participants pick stocks and set a high target rate of return. Participants then had to allocate $5,400 by selecting three of 20 fictitious stocks. Some made high goals for their rate of return and others made low ones. Researchers made it so that after 10 minutes, all participants got the a stock portfolio return that matched their goal. Researchers then asked participants how satisfied they were with the returns. Those with the higher goals had a much higher feeling of happiness, luck, and satisfaction.
  3. Count yourself as lucky. When we feel lucky we also have higher expectations for ourselves and our lives. Do a litmus test of your expectations. You might realize that you have extremely low expectations about life and yourself, and this can greatly affect your perception of how lucky you are. Go through the following questions:
  • When I get up in the morning, what is my first thought?
  • When I think about the future of my career, what do I expect for myself?
  • When I imagine someone meeting me at a party, what do I guess they will think of me?
  • What keeps me up worrying at night?

Think through your answers—are they negative, positive, all over the place? This will give you an idea of your expectation level for yourself and possibly encourage you to spend some time redirecting your energy to feel more positive and think of ways that you are lucky.

Don’t underestimate the power of your own luck, it can be a great self-esteem booster.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment and provides its members with access to tools, mentorship, and resources that support each stage of a business’s development and growth.

Vanessa Van Petten specializes in social and emotional intelligence research and development. The focus of her company is to research youth behavior and help adults keep up with young adults. She is the author of the book Science of People.

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Justin Shutt

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This entry was posted on March 26, 2012 by .
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