It turns out that Churchill and Cicero were both right and modern research backs them up!
Do you have that friend who is the luckiest person on the word?! I know I do. Do you ever wonder what it would be like to carry around that type of luck? Good news, you can. It turns out that in a sense people create their own luck through their habits. This post explores those magic habits.
Let’s start with Richard Wiseman who researches the secret habits of lucky people!
What Makes People Lucky?
Richard Wiseman’s study split people into two groups based on whether or not they considered
themselves lucky… “were they optimistic or not.”
I gave both lucky and unlucky people a newspaper, and asked them to look through it and tell me how many photographs were inside. On average, the unlucky people took about two minutes to count the photographs whereas the lucky people took just seconds. Why? Because the second page of the newspaper contained the message “Stop counting – There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” This message took up half of the page and was written in type that was over 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.
For unlucky people… the harder they looked, the less they saw. And so it is with luck – unlucky people miss chance 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 type of job advertisements and as a result miss other types of jobs. Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there rather than just what they are looking for.
Can We Increase Our Optimism?
Yes, we can condition ourselves to be optimistic, and in doing so, make ourselves luckier. Shawn Achor, Author of the Happiness Advantage connects these positive emotions with our ability to see opportunities and create our own luck. One technique that Shawn recommends is spending a couple of minutes each day writing three things you are grateful for.
Writing down three things you are grateful for for 21 days in a row can significantly raise your optimism even 6 months later.
The trick is… He continues in an interview with the Washington Post:
This only works if you’re scanning for new things and you’re very specific. So if you say, “I’m grateful for my son,” it doesn’t work. But if you say, “I’m grateful for my son because he hugged me today, which means I’m loved regardless,” that specificity actually gets the brain stuck in a new pattern of optimism. It works with 4-year-old children and 84-year-old grumpy old men.
This can also work when writing a card to someone. If you are writing to thank them, thank them specifically. Tell them the reasons you are thankful for having them around! The more specific the better.
Using gratitude as a tool to create optimism in your life can then increase the luck that you create! If you decide to implement one of these habits, pay attention to see if you are getting luckier. I’d love to hear if you notice a difference. AND if you win the lotto as a result, consider including me on some of the profits! Just kidding. But seriously. If it can work for people that have been pessimistic for 84 years, it can work for us. It takes small, consistent steps. Every day. Over time.
“Good luck” out there!