Why do some people get all the luck
while others never get the breaks they deserve?
A psychologist says he has discovered the answer.
Ten years ago, I set out to examine luck.
I wanted to know why some people are
always in the right place at the right time,
while others consistently experience ill fortune.
I placed advertisements in national newspapers
asking for people who felt consistently lucky or
unlucky to contact me.
Hundreds of extraordinary men and women
volunteered for my research and over the years,
I have interviewed them, monitored their lives and
had themtake part in experiments.
The results reveal that although these people
have almost no insight into the causes of their luck,
their thoughts and behavior are responsible
for much of their good and bad fortune.
Take the case of seemingly chance opportunities.
Lucky people consistently encounter such opportunities,
whereas unlucky people do not.
I carried out a simple experiment to discover whether this
was due to differences in their ability to spot such opportunities.
I gave both lucky and unlucky people a newspaper,
and asked them to look through it and tell me
how many photographs were inside.
I had secretly placed a large message
halfway through the newspaper saying:
"Tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $50."
This message took up half of the page and was written
in type that was more than two inches high.
It was staring everyone straight in the face, but
the unlucky people tended to miss it and the lucky people
tended to spot it.
Unlucky people are generally more tense than lucky people,
and this anxiety disrupts their ability to notice the unexpected.
As a result, they miss opportunities because
they are too focused on looking for something else.
They go to parties' intent on finding their perfect
partner and so miss opportunities to make good friends.
They look through newspapers determined to find
certain types of job advertisements and miss
other types of jobs. The lucky ones make the best of what
they have and find ways to make it better.
Unlucky ones tend to find an easy way out and fail in life.
Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see
what is there rather than just what they are looking for.
My research eventually revealed that lucky people
generate good fortune via four principles.
They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities,
make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition,
create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations,
and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.
Towards the end of the work,
I wondered whether these principles could
be used to create good luck.
I asked a group of volunteers to spend a month
carrying out exercises designed to help them think and
behave like a lucky person.
Dramatic results! These exercises helped them spot chance
opportunities, listen to their intuition, expect to be lucky,
and be more resilient to bad luck.
One month later,
the volunteers returned and described what had happened.
The results were dramatic: 80% of people were now happier,
more satisfied with their lives and, perhaps most important of
The lucky people had become even luckier and
the unlucky had become lucky.
Finally, I had found the elusive "luck factor".
Here are Professor Wiseman's four top tips for becoming lucky:
1) Listen to your gut instincts - they are normally right
2) Be open to new experiences and find ways to make things
work better. Family and loved ones for a start.
3) Spend a few moments each day remembering
things that went well
4) Visualize yourself being lucky before an important
meeting or telephone call.
Have a Lucky day and work for it.
The happiest people in the world
are not those who have no problems,
but those who learn to live with things
that are less than perfect..
By Professor Richard Wiseman,
University of Hertfordshire