How to Be a Lucky Bastard


Luck is often thought of as a chance occurrence beyond your control. Something you can’t predict or affect. But is it really? While you can’t change your chances in the lottery, you can affect luck in many ways that impact your life. New studies show how you can change your luck so that good fortune is no accident.

The Science of Luck

Richard Wiseman studied luck for 10 years and his final conclusion was that people make their own luck, good or bad. He did an experiment on a group of people who considered themselves lucky and another group who considered themselves unlucky. He asked them to look through a newspaper and count the number of photographs in it.

The unlucky group took about two minutes on average. The lucky group took seconds. For both groups, the second page had the message: “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” The only difference was the unlucky group failed to notice it. Luck isn’t an external force occasionally acting on you, you make your own.

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Luck

I consider myself a lucky person, but I wasn’t always that way. I had a lot of bad things happen to me and for many reasons I just expected them to happen. It was like getting caught up in a downward spiral where bad thing happened after bad thing. I didn’t know it at the time, but my expectations affected what would happen.

The most important thing to remember is bad things do happen to lucky people; they just react differently than “unlucky” people. When asked about the future, people who consider themselves lucky are optimistic. They consider unfortunate events as short lived; a bump on the road of life. Unlucky people have a bleak idea of their future.

Remaining optimistic is very important in your reaction to bad events. Another study by Martin Seligman showed how optimism affects your performance. An optimistic sports team was found to perform better than pessimistic ones. Another study showed that swimmers who performed well but were led to believe they did poorly showed over time that their performance suffered.

Basically, if you react with pessimism to something bad that happens to you, more bad things will happen. That will cause your “bad luck” to spiral making it harder for you to change it. The great news is that the opposite is also true. Your “good luck” can keep spiraling upwards.

The First Step to Good Luck

The driving force behind good luck is your outlook and optimism. However, this alone will not make you a lucky person. If you rely on outlook and optimism to make your life better you will be disappointed, frustrated and probably sink into a worse downward luck spiral than if you had done nothing at all. Imagine being optimistic about getting a new job but not sending out resumes or making phone calls to companies and you’ll realize how limited optimism is in getting luck started.

Becoming lucky is all about risk taking. Taking chances and seeing what works out is extremely important in becoming lucky. The flip side of this is that risks you take don’t always work out and you can experience a set back. This is where remaining optimistic comes in. Eventually more of your risks will work out, your luck will continue and you’ll be the lucky bastard you know you can be.

Other Things Lucky People Do

In Richard Wiseman’s ten year study of luck, he found that lucky people share three characteristics: extroversion, relaxation and openness. The more social you are, the more people you meet. The more people you meet and network with, the likelier they will introduce you to good things.

Lucky people also are half as anxious as unlucky people. Anxiety causes you to pay less attention to what is going on. It is the reason that people in the newspaper experiment I mentioned before were unable to notice the large message. In a more relaxed state of mind, people are better able to spot opportunities and take advantage of them.

Openness is another characteristic of lucky people. Lucky people open up to new ideas and ways of thinking. They are open to new experiences in their lives. Lucky people travel more, come up with new ideas and try new hobbies.

Listen to Your Gut Instinct

One of the final ways to increase your luck is to listen to what your gut tells you. For many years, gut instinct or intuition was regarded as imaginary. However, it is real.

Scientists showed a group of volunteers an image refreshed periodically until one image shown was slightly changed. The volunteers were asked to press a buzzer when they “felt” the image had changed. Not only did the majority of volunteers get it right, but also one third of them buzzed correctly on the image before it was even shown.

The same thing happens to police officers. Oftentimes, they’ll have a “feeling” when a suspect is armed or carrying drugs. They won’t even be able to describe why they felt that way.

Lucky people listen to their gut instinct. They will follow their instinct even if their brain tells them something else. If you don’t have a good intuition, you can do things to make it better. Several hobbies can open you up to see the world in a new way. Surfing and martial arts can make you react with gut instinct without even thinking about what to do. Meditation can also work.

Do you have any other ways you think can make you a luckier person?

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  1. What a great post. If only the lottery took being an extrovert into consideration!

    • Wouldn’t it be nice if the lottery worked like that? I would start a conversation with everyone I walked past for weeks before buying a lottery ticket.

  2. I like the idea that we make our own luck; its a very American ideal that if you work hard and do many of the things you mentioned (use networks of people, be open, be ready for opportunities, etc), then we can all be successful.

    • It really does work. I started doing all of these things and my luck really changed. And this was before I had read the studies about them. I met more people and I was introduced to some really good things because I opened myself up to new opportunities.

  3. Wow, that actually makes a lot of sense. It’s all about how you perceive things. I have a few pessimists and Debbie-downers in mind that I’m going to be sharing this with. =)

  4. I love this web site – every article I receive is full of stuff that just makes the day a better one.

  5. This is absolutely great. Attitude is sooo important. I’m glad you backed up this post with scientific fact (although I hate science)

    • Science is great! Its what we use to create many of the wonderful things we have on this planet. Please dont hate science……. embrace it!

  6. Wow this is kind of interesting. I had no idea they actually conducted a real life experiment on luck. That is super intriguing. Always just assumed it was a saying that you make your own luck.

    I love how much perception changed their outcome. It reminds me of those placebo tests people do and the people with the placebo suddenly have the same effects as the people who got the actual stuff.

    The human mind is such a powerful creation!

    With ability to leap entire buildings in a single bound…

    To life,

    • Well, in a way you do make your own luck. You just need to know some of the ways to make it happen. It really does come down to your mind and how you perceive things.

      I know what you mean about placebo too. I knew someone who got an A on a big test in school. After that they got straight A’s despite being an average student before that. Turns out that the test was a mistake. It changed his perception on himself though.

  7. A couple of old sayings go well with this post. The first is ‘You have to create your own luck’ and the second ‘I’d rather be born lucky than smart’. An interesting read Steve.

  8. This is a good read. Thanks for passing this information on.

  9. Great post Steve – Each time I visit your site it reminds me to have the courage of my convictions. Thankyou!

  10. Introversion is not bad.
    Being able to have extroversion when the time calls for it is the most important thing.

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