How many of you view yourself as unlucky? Or have met someone and thought, “She is the lucky one?” How much of what occurs in your life is random, based purely on luck vs. effort and intention?
Great thinkers, writers, and philosophers from as far back as ancient Greece have all pondered this question. Most settled on around 50 percent of what happens to you in life is random and based on luck.
Luck is not a magical ability or a gift from God. Luck is a state of mind — a way of thinking and behaving and friends let me tell you, we have more control over our lives than we realize. In fact, research points to evidence that 10% of what happens to you in life is random and 90 percent of what happens is in your control, 90%.
The secret to good luck has nothing to do with charms or superstitious rituals. Interesting aside, ‘knocking on wood’ was a practice employed by pagans to awaken powerful tree gods to ask them for favor or help. If our luck isn’t dependent on ancient tree gods or the severed feet of rabbits (it’s crazy that people believe this!), then what is the secret?
New thinking points out that luck is all about opportunity, not just getting an opportunity but recognizing it when it occurs. Opportunities arise unbidden and unexpectedly for everyone, however, the difference between being ‘lucky’ versus ‘unlucky’ is completely up to you. One study asked participants to count the number of photos in a newspaper. Some accomplished this task in under 10 seconds, others took over 2 minutes. On page 2 of the newspaper is huge print it said
STOP READING. THERE ARE 43 PHOTOS.
The participants who missed this continued on and counted all the photos in the newspaper. They missed the answer because they were experiencing a phenomenon called inattentional blindness or sometimes referred to as perceptual blindness or selective attention. They were so focused on counting photos that the giant type with the answer did not register. This phenomenon can occur in all individuals and in no way suggests any cognitive defect or deficit. It’s simply that our brains are unable to attend to every piece of visual stimuli that enters our field of sight.
This study sheds light on the lucky or unlucky. Interestingly, people who self-categorized themselves as lucky were more likely to read the answer on page 2 of the paper than people who were self-described as unlucky. There is a strong correlation between ‘unlucky’ people and a higher level of inattentional blindness. We perceive very little of our environment when focused on a specific task. This is the same thing that happens when we are consumed by our fears. When we are dominated by our fears we experience this lucky vs. unlucky phenomenon because our fears cause tunnel vision and perceptual narrowing, thus making us miss fortuitous possibilities.
If you suspect you are one of the ‘unlucky’ ones, don’t despair. You can teach yourself to be lucky by emulating the behavior of lucky people. Remember, your attitude and behavior determine nine-tenths of what happens in your life.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION
Act lucky this week. Lucky people do the following:
1. They expect good things to happen to them. If negative occurrences arise they quickly dismiss them. If a lucky person breaks a leg (God forbid!) in a car accident they recount the tale as being one of great fortune. They could have been killed! An unlucky person will feel that it was a terrible piece of bad luck that they were in an accident at all and see no silver lining.
2. They notice opportunities by being present, engaged and observant of their environment. We don’t notice things when we aren’t paying real attention. Put your phone away, look up from the sidewalk, make eye contact and smile at people. Lucky people do.
3. They change their routine. Imagine an orange grower who only picks oranges from one tree. At first he has plenty of oranges, but soon he depletes the tree. An unlucky person would bemoan his bad fortune and declare himself a failure. A lucky person would take a look outside of his comfort zone and perhaps find a whole orchard of oranges just on the other side the road.
There is a great example of how easy it is to miss the obvious in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo
(I won’t tell you anything about it so I don’t ruin the surprise!)
Look around room and observe your surroundings, study things closely. Now, hold up your hand, thumb up and focus on your thumbnail. What do your surroundings look like now with only your thumb in focus? This is the same perspective we experience when we view world through a limited perspective.