Own My Growth

Helping folks with practical tips to manage themselves better

Get Good At Being Lucky


Most people would tend to think that luck has a lot to do with chance, much like rolling dice. We all know those lucky people around us. The cousin who wins the lucky draw raffle, the friend who always seems to get the best job opportunities, or the entrepreneur who turns anything he touches into gold.  

But What Is It That Makes Some People Luckier Than Others?

A British psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, Richard Wiseman, wanted to figure out why some people are lucky, and others are not. So he decided to conduct an interesting experiment with a group of randomly selected respondents.

He started the social experiment by first asking the respondents to rate themselves on a scale from very unlucky to extremely lucky . Following the self-rating, he gave each respondent a newspaper and asked them to count the number of photographs inside. Participants who got the number correct would receive a $10 cash reward.

The results were very insightful.

Respondents who rated themselves unlucky took about two minutes to count the photographs, while those who rated themselves lucky took seconds.

There was another interesting twist in the test. In the newspaper, Wiseman inserted a prominent message on the second page that read, “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper. If you see this message, you can collect an extra $10.”

More than 80 percent of people who rated themselves as lucky noticed the inserted message and received the additional ten-dollar reward. However, in contrast, fewer than a third of people who rated themselves unlucky noticed it.

Luck Is A Consequence Of Your Outlook.

Based on research, Wiseman concluded that people who see themselves as unlucky tend to miss out on the opportunities (which are seen as lucky breaks) because they are too inward-focused, worrying about something all the time. They operate with a tunnel vision focussing on a very narrow field of focus. As a result, they cannot see beyond the immediate environment, which in turn limits their capacity to recognize opportunities. Like in the experiment where the unlucky respondents were so focused on counting the photographs that they failed to notice the inserted message. Tunnel vision manifests itself in many forms for the unlucky folks. E.g., In a social gathering, they will only talk with people they already know and miss out on meeting other interesting people. Or, at work, they focus only on their job and miss out on keeping an eye on new emerging opportunities.

On the other hand, lucky people don’t suffer from tunnel vision. They have strong peripheral vision. Generally, they are more open to new experiences, willing to meet new people, travel to new places, and try new things. The lucky are also usually optimistic, resulting in self-fulfilling prophecies. It does not matter if things go wrong; they can still find the good in every situation.

The Good News- We Can Shift Our Luck

To find out if the self-identified unlucky people could turn their luck around, Wiseman enrolled them in his “luck school,” where he conducted a series of exercises to try and boost their luck. The results were astounding.

Within one month of enrolling, 80 percent of people reported feeling happier, more satisfied, and most importantly, having more luck. The lucky ones said they became luckier, and the unlucky ones turned lucky. They had been taught how to spot good opportunities, keep a positive outlook, and make better decisions.

If you want to increase your luck, you can do what the “luck school” participants did:

  • Always keep an open mind (and pair of eyes): When you continuously worry about achieving a goal, you can unknowingly close yourself to other possibilities. By having an open attitude and looking around for new opportunities, you can open yourself to lucky chances.
  • Focus on the positive: Negative thinking dampens your spirits and your sense of hope. When you go from complaining about your car being bumped by another vehicle behind you to being grateful that it wasn’t any worse, it becomes easier for you to try new things. 
  • Do something out of the ordinary: Routines can lead to ruts, whether talking to the same people, eating the same food, or working the same way. You are more likely to catch a lucky break when you step outside your boundary.

People sometimes attribute other people’s fortunes to good luck, while they think their misfortunes are because of bad luck. While it is true that luck many times can be genuinely outside our control, it is also true, based on Wiseman’s research, that we can also synthetically create our own luck. 

When we open ourselves to new places, practice gratitude, and step outside our routines to explore new stuff, we have a high chance of getting lucky. 

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