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A Psychology Professor Explains in 5 Sentences Why People Get Lucky

by | Jun 26, 2023 | Life

At 26, I made my own luck.

With a successful startup making millions in revenue, employees thought I had it all. One afternoon a salesman walks into my office.

“Wow, you’re so lucky. 26, luxury car, successful startup.”

Through some bizarre reflex, I said “As fast as you can make a million bucks, you can lose it all too.”

I foresaw my own prophecy. 90 days later I faced complete ruin. Did I get lucky? Well, I’ve spent many years studying luck.

I came across the work of Richard Wiseman. He wrote the book “The Luck Factor” and spent 10 years studying the topic as a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire. I’ve binged on his work and listened to all his podcasts so you don’t have to.

Here are his 5 sentences that explain the bizarre reality that is luck.

1. Lucky people can see opportunities hiding in plain sight

Lucky people don’t wait for stuff to happen.

They’re always on the lookout. They have a vision or a goal that helps to narrow their focus so their brain can see the right opportunities.

Richard says lucky people have an open mind. They’re happy to try new things and aren’t romantic about the outcome.

He also says that the introvert/extrovert debate isn’t helpful. When we assign ourselves the label of introvert we isolate ourselves from others. They are the people that can bring us opportunities.

PhD psychologist Dr Benjamin Hardy had the same revelation in his book “Personality Isn’t Permanent.” A label like introvert can make you unlucky. It can decrease your luck surface area.

Opportunities exist everywhere if you’re willing to pay close attention and remove the nasty filter of skepticism.

2. They deny fate

In Richard’s book he spends considerable time arguing how bad it is to believe in fate.

One of the most dangerous ideas is that parts of our identity are fixed.

Like “we’re born this way” or “I can’t change” or “it’s my genes.” These are excuses. Fate isn’t set in concrete. You can change the trajectory you are on at any time through bold and consistent action.

You may be born with disadvantages but they don’t need to define you.

I’ve found disadvantages are a superpower. They place a chip on your shoulder that provides relentless motivation that forces you *not* to take no for an answer. Fate is false.

Our thoughts and decisions carve our path in life.

3. They insist on bouncing back from tragedy

Richard found unlucky people find it hard to bounce back.

When failure or rejection hits they let it consume them, thus destroying their natural luck reserves. Lucky people are resilient. They get knocked down and get back up again.

I often joke that a lot of my own luck is the result of stubbornness and the fact I’m too stupid to know when to give up. I just keep wanting to try my luck again to surprise myself.

When bad luck strikes it doesn’t have to be permanent.

You’re not in control of situations — but you are in control of your thoughts. And thoughts determine whether you’ll get back up or stay down on the ground, defeated.

4. They back themselves

Richard’s research found that 90% of lucky people trusted their intuition. They followed their gut feeling. They backed themselves.

What’s often forgotten is our subconscious mind is recording reality in the background. It sees patterns and then lets the conscious mind become aware of them. This process creates our intuition.

That’s why it’s so important to notice stuff and write it down. It’s also why rest and boring tasks like doing the dishes are important. Boredom is how the subconscious mind joins the dots and forms patterns.

Let intuition help guide your big decisions.

5. They’re biased toward optimism

Tony Robbins taught me in 2013 that it’s always good to see the world better than it is, because our monkey brain defaults to exaggerated chaos.

Richard’s research found that optimism significantly contributed to how lucky someone became. In one test Richard gave teachers a made-up list of students who were late bloomers and would be slow learners.

The teachers treated the students differently because of this data. As a result the students did poorly in school.

Optimism lifts the veil on reality. It helps us imagine outcomes that don’t exist. It lets creativity thrive instead of being suffocated by pessimism.

Bringing it all together

Luck isn’t random.

As my grandpa used to tell me, “Timbo, you may your own luck.” We’re in control. We can manipulate our path in life to bring us closer to opportunities that make us look lucky.

Luck is proactive. It’s exposing yourself to the right experiences and people. It’s opening your mind instead of closing it out of fear bad luck will strike.

The funny thing about bad luck is it looks like good luck if you keep going and find another way.

Bad luck is temporary. Good luck lasts a lifetime with the right mindset.

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