Feeling jinxed? Four keys to changing your luck (according to science)

Good fortune comes down to a matter of attitude, a new study has found. What are you prepared to do so that karma smiles on you?

Ruben Montenegro

Neither knocking on wood nor crossing your fingers will help. If you want more luck in your life, the world of science has found a way to get it. Or at least, that’s the belief of Richard Wiseman, a professor at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. His investigation began with a simple question: How is it possible that there are people who are always in the right place at the right time, and others who seem to attract bad luck?

Only 10% of our existence is random, the other 90% is defined by how we handle the things that happen in our lives

Wiseman wanted to find an answer to this and so he conducted a number of experiments. He asked a group of volunteers to first class how lucky they felt they were, and then to go through a series of tests. One of them was very simple: they had to count the number of photos they saw in a newspaper. In the middle of this test, and without the subjects’ knowledge, he left an easily-read message that stated: “Tell the researcher that you have seen this sign to win 250 pounds.” The people who considered themselves to be lucky stopped counting the number of photos and read the message out loud to claim the money. It was that easy. However, those who had previously considered themselves to be unlucky tensed up and in some cases didn’t say anything at all.

This result inspired a new central theory to the research: Luck is a question of attitude. “The majority of people simply aren’t aware of things in their environment,” says Wiseman. What’s more, in his opinion, only 10% of our existence is random, the other 90% is defined by how we handle the things that happen in our lives. In other words, this is good news. If we want to be luckier in life, we need to start with ourselves, and change the way that we think.

So let’s take a look at what the four keys to feeling luckier in life are, according to Wiseman (and it should be noted, luck is different than chance – the latter would be something like buying a lottery ticket, an activity where our only hand in what happens is about a tenth of the actual outcome. Luck is a much broader concept).

1. Be open to new experiences. If you are looking to have absolute control of everything in your life you will miss things that you may not have been expecting, but that could add great positivity to your life. Living a more relaxed lifestyle is not only good for your health, but also for your luck.

2. Recognize your hunches and pay more attention to them. In our digestive system alone there are more than 100 million neurons that give us hints about what we can’t physically see and the necessary information to make the right decision in any particular situation.

In life, it’s better to have a more trusting attitude rather than a defensive one

3. Trust that positive things can happen to you. Of course, this is just an attitude you adopt, but it does help. We know that in life, it’s better to have a more trusting attitude rather than a defensive one. It appears that this too lends a hand in training your luck.

4. Turn negative experiences into positive ones. Learning from your mistakes with optimism or believing that something could have been a lot worse than it actually played out will reduce stress and help us rationalize our failures.

So the biggest takeaway from this, is that luck is about perspective – it all depends on what we do and how we perceive what happens to us. Because of this, luck can be trained, as Fernando Trías de Bes and Alex Rovira suggest in their book La Buena Suerte, and as the participants of the School of Luck – Wiseman’s experiment in the UK – did. They wrote about all the good that was happening in their life and, after some time, they felt a lot luckier. So, since luck is a matter of having a good attitude, what are you willing to do to make luck smile down on you today?

English edition by Laura Rodriguez.


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