The mystery of luck
Luck can really feel random, and it can be tough to know how to get good luck on your side. Some people get in temporary ruts, where things just aren’t going their way. Others may be convinced they can’t catch a break.
While luck is a mysterious roll of the dice that may or may not lead to big winnings in your life, some experts believe luck is not merely a matter of chance. Good luck charms like lucky pennies or four-leaf clovers certainly won’t block your path to good fortune, but experts say there are less mystical ways to consistently find more success.
What is luck anyway?
Luck is one of those things that’s hard to put a finger on. It’s more than lucky numbers and good luck plants. “Although luck is often defined as a good or bad outcome caused by chance, the idea of luck is most often used in the context of outcomes that are not completely due to chance, like sports outcomes, work outcomes or financial outcomes,” says educational psychologist and motivation expert Martin Ford, PhD. “Essentially, luck is a force used to explain unexpected successes and failures when the usual explanations do not seem sufficient.”
Can you make your own luck?
Absolutely. And a lot of it has to do with changing your own scenery both mentally and physically and putting yourself in more advantageous situations. “Success comes about from a number of factors,” says Barbara Becker Holstein, a positive psychologist and author of The Enchanted Self: A Positive Therapy.
Experts agree that there are many paths toward better luck, but there is one concept that surely will allow good fortune to find you: “Live a life that allows you to move forward,” says Holstein. And here’s how to do that.
How to get good luck
Ford says that it’s just not true that some people are born lucky. “Luck is not a mysterious superpower,” he says. “People are born with different developmental potentials and vulnerabilities with regard to what naturally motivates them, what kinds of skills are easier or harder to develop, the kinds of environments in which they live and learn and their biological strengths and weaknesses.”
The challenge of making your own luck can be an easier journey for some than others – particularly for those who weren’t born with many biological advantages. But it’s still attainable for everyone. “Success involves four intertwined elements: motivation, knowledge and skills, a responsive environment and sound biological functioning,” says Ford.
Here are some specific tips to learn how to get good luck.
1. Adopt a brighter attitude
Experts have long known that a positive outlook can help flip the script on the negative things that are happening in your life. “If you are an optimistic person, you will have enough energy in your mind to notice new things,” says Holstein. And those new things may very well be opportunities. “It’s important to create optimism and hopefulness in our lives, and a lot of times we need some help with that.”
Life doesn’t always leave you in a place of cheerfulness, but when you feel down, Holstein says it helps to recall the times when you felt happiest. Maybe it’s your graduation day, the birth of your child or when you got the starring role in a play. If you still don’t have much hope and joy to draw from, there are actionable ways to develop a positive attitude.
2. Widen your social connections
The more people you know, the more paths you will have to discover new opportunities – and find the good fortune you desire. According to psychologist Richard Wiseman in his classic book The Luck Factor, the No. 1 predictor of how many lucky breaks a person has is how interconnected they are with others. If you’re still feeling the effects of social isolation from the height of the pandemic, it’s time to get back out there and interact with others. On a regular basis too, may we add.
Plus, community is important and friendships are healthy. More human connectivity can help with another basic rule of how to be lucky: optimism. “When you get out of the house and make a new friend or do something nice for someone, you will probably have a better day,” says Holstein.