Just a few months ago, I wrote about how somebodys are nobodys that got lucky, musing on the cult of fame and trying to put a person's status into question as a reason to fawn over him/her. I got back a great reaction (many people didn't like the idea of 'luck'). So yesterday, when perusing through some links, I found an article that summarizes an actual scientific study of lucky vs. non-lucky people. It turns out that there IS such thing as lucky people, but it's not some sort of mystical fate playing its hand at work after all. Instead, 'lucky people' are those who are really observant and open to opportunities.
Bingo. From the article:
"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 types 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."
I just about fell out of my chair reading this as it feeds right into the whole 'embrace the chaos' mantra I've been chanting for the past 4 years of my life (ever since I began getting 'luckier'). The researcher, Richard Wiseman is a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire, goes on to highlight four main characteristics of lucky people:
- Lucky people are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities;
- Lucky people make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition;
- Lucky people create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations; and
- Lucky people adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.
This is fascinating, but unsurprising to me. I've read other research that says that positive 'Pollyanna' type people go much further in the world. I also know from personal experience that focusing on negative bits tends to create more negative outcomes while keeping my spirits up sails me through rough patches and leads to new and awesome opportunities. I've also observed many people who seem to attract negative drama and, therefore, never move forward. These people often refer to themselves as 'unlucky'. No coincidence.
I'm definitely interested in picking up Wiseman's book, The Luck Factor: The Four Essential Principles (another coincidence? ;)) to find out how he backs up his theories with experiments. A couple of further observations I loved from the article:
- Lucky people follow their 'gut' feeling rather than the rational side of a choice.
- Unlucky people stick to a routine - same route, same people at parties, etc - they don't like to venture outside of their comfort zone.
- No matter what misfortune occurs to a lucky person, he/she will tend to look on the bright side of things. ("broke my leg? heh. no problem! at least it wasn't my neck!")
I guess it's true that you make your own luck. I know that ever since I've begun pushing myself out of my comfort zone, my luck has changed. Or rather, that I changed my luck.