More and more eminent scientists are suggesting that what we think affects our reality. One scientist, professor Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire and a CSICOP fellow (the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the paranormal), wanted to find the answers to questions we often have about luck: can we create our own luck? Why do some people lead lives filled with repeated failure and sadness while others enjoy happy successful existence? Why do some stagger from one broken relationship to the next, while others find their perfect partner? What enables some people to have successful careers while apparently similar others find themselves trapped in dead-end jobs they detest? And most importantly, can unlucky people do anything to improve their luck—and unhappy lives?
Professor Wiseman spent ten years studying people’s attitudes to luck and chance and how this affected their reality. His revolutionary study of luck and its power to transform people’s lives is now a best-selling book The Luck Factor, which has been published in over twenty-five countries.
The Luck Experiment
Professor Wiseman decided to search for the elusive luck factor by investigating the actual beliefs and experiences of lucky and unlucky people. He says:
Over the years, four hundred extraordinary men and women have volunteered to participate in my research; the youngest eighteen, a student, the oldest eighty-four, a retired accountant. They were drawn from all walks of life and all were kind enough to let me put their lives and minds under the microscope.
The differences between the lucky and unlucky people were striking. Lucky people tend to imagine spontaneously how the bad luck they encounter could have been worse and, in doing so, they feel much better about themselves and their lives. This, in turn, helps keep their expectations about the future high, and increases the likelihood of them continuing to live a lucky life.
I wondered whether the principles uncovered during my work could be used to increase the amount of good luck that people encounter in their lives. To find out, I created ‘luck school’—a series of experiments examining whether people’s luck can be enhanced by getting them to think and behave like a lucky person.
The project comprised two main parts. In the first part I met up with participants on a one-to-one basis, and asked them to complete standard questionnaires measuring their luck and how satisfied they were with six major areas of their life. I then described the four main principles of luck, explained how lucky people used these to create good fortune in their lives, and described simple techniques designed to help them think and behave like a lucky person.
For example, without realizing it, lucky people tend to use various techniques to create chance opportunities that surround them and deal more effectively with bad luck by imagining how things could have been worse. I asked my volunteers to spend a month carrying out exercises and then return and describe what had happened. The results were dramatic. Eighty percent of people were now happier, more satisfied with their lives, and, perhaps most important of all, luckier. Unlucky people had become lucky, and lucky people had become even luckier. After a few weeks carrying out some simple exercises, bad luck completely vanished for many of the participants. Other volunteers found romantic partners through chance and job promotions simply through lucky breaks.
After ten years of scientific research my work has revealed a radically new way of looking at luck and the vital role it plays in our lives. It demonstrates that much of the good and bad fortune we encounter is a result of our thoughts and behavior. More important, it represents the potential for change, and has produced that most elusive of holy grails—an effective way of increasing the luck people experience in their daily lives.
Here are professor Wiseman’s four top tips for becoming lucky:
- Listen to your gut instinct, they are normally right.
- Be open to new experiences and breaking your normal routine.
- Spend a few moments each day remembering things that went well.
- Visualise yourself being lucky before an important meeting or telephone call.
And remember, luck is very often a self-fulfilling prophecy.