# How to improve your luck

Whether or not you have superstitious beliefs, there are still some proven ways to bring good luck in the house. The principle behind this is simple- we are surrounded by a constant flow of energy around us. Chinese call this energy as Chi. The concept of Feng Shui (pronounced Feng-shway) is also based around creating a positive space in our homes or offices with proper furniture placement. Today we will study some easy ways to bring good luck into our homes.

## 1. Wind chimes

Wind chimes are known to bring good luck as well as money into the home. The best way to use them is to hang them at the entrance of the house. You can also place a wind chime at the furthest back left corner (viewed by standing looking at your home from the front street or from your house’s entrance). Never hang chimes where you study, work, eat or sleep as it suppresses the positive energy.

## 2. Horseshoe

Horses are considered to be lucky animals so it is no wonder that horseshoes are also lucky. The U-shape of the horseshoe is considered to guard your house from evil spirits. Always use iron horseshoe as iron is considered to be a lucky material. You can always buy the horseshoe, but it is considered even luckier if you are gifted it or you find one. Do not remove the nails of the horseshoe you find (as each nail represents additional luck!). When you attach the shoe to your door, use an odd number of nails to attach it.

## 3. List of ‘good luck’ items

There are many ‘good luck’ items which you must always pick up should you find them. These are known to help you bring good luck into your lives and your home. They include: four-leaf clover, coins (with heads up only, avoid picking up tails up ones), pencil, postage stamps, yellow ribbon or anything purple in color. Never walk past these objects if you see them-it is important that you pick them up!

## 4. Good luck animals

• If you find a caterpillar, pick it up and toss it over your shoulder. This may not be lucky for the caterpillar but it will be for you!
• A cricket in the house brings good luck!
• A frog brings good luck to the house it enters.

## 5. Blue clothing

Blue clothes are considered really lucky. The color of the sky is also blue which repels the negative energies. So wear blue on the days you wish of good luck in your life.

## 6. Use Kachina dolls

The Native Americans believe that Kachina dolls ward of negative spirits as they themselves represent our passed ancestors. The dolls are painted in 6 different colors for the 6 cardinal directions and may be displayed in the house accordingly or may be given to kids to play with. The key to bringing good luck in the house using Kachina dolls is to make them an integral part of your lives.

Wearing ladybug charms or brooches can also bring good luck into your homes. Keep a garden and encourage ladybugs in it. It is considered bad luck if you kill or brush them off.

## 8. Herbs and plants for good luck

Many plants and herbs are considered to bring luck into your home.

• Place Irish moss under the doormat to bring money and good luck into your lives.
• Hang Aloe Vera and Catnip in your home-both are very lucky.
• According to Feng Shui, bamboos are very lucky for the home. Place the bamboo in the East for good health or South east for money and good luck. Love and care for your bamboo plant and it will love you right back!
• Four leaf clovers are good to find. If you find one, keep it in your house for good luck.
• A mistletoe in the house brings fertility and good luck. It also protects the house from lightning.
• Plant shrubs and trees with rounded leaves near the entrance instead of those having sharp, pointed leaves. This is because; rounded leaves balance and harmonize energy, while pointed leaves push it away.

## 9. Mirror placement

According to Feng Shui, Mirror placement can impact the luck and positive energy in your house. Always use square or rectangular mirrors and hang them at least 4-5 feet above the ground. Keep them clean at all times. If possible, place the mirror in such a manner that they relfect the greenery outside; this will bring positive energy into the house.

## 10. Keep toilet lids closed at all times

Keeping the toilet lids open makes the positive energy drain away.

## 11. Make your entrance attractive

This is another Feng Shui principle for attracting wealth and good luck into the house. You can arrange plants or use attractive vases with fresh flowers and other decorative objects to jazz up the entrance foyer. Never clutter this area with shoes, books, or coats etc.

## 12. Water fountains

Running water is calming and cleansing and also attracts positive energy and luck. Place a small portable water fountain outdoors during summer and bring it indoors during winter for luck.

## 13. Declutter and clean your home

Your home should always be free of clutter. Clean all the rooms every now and then and throw away things you do not need. Dust and vacuum the rooms every few days. Keep trash covered and in designated areas. You can diffuse essential oils like Frankincense, Lemon or Lavender to keep the house smelling clean and fresh.

Luck is an interesting concept. To be lucky is to have greater odds of success in some directive, while to be unlucky is to have lower odds of success in the same directive, yet there is nothing tangible about luck. Many people ascribe luck as a factor in their successes or failures as some random element, which mysteriously yet profoundly influences their eventual outcomes.

Under the definition above, it is true that luck has an influence on your eventual success in any endeavor. After all, the concept of luck is just an acknowledgement that your decisions are at least partially influenced by chance, and this is true no matter what the situation. However, there are ways that you can actually increase your luck by creating situations and circumstances where the odds lean slightly in your favor. Here’s how:

1. Face Your Fears. You’ve likely heard the expression “fortune favors the bold,” and it’s little wonder why the phrase has become so popular. Individuals who make bold decisions or take big risks are more likely to experience luck than those who remain indecisive or take the path of least resistance. This is, in part, due to our psychology. When facing a risky decision, our minds tend to imagine the worst-case scenario. When we face our fears and go through with the decision, the end results are rarely the worst-case scenario, and even less-than-stellar outcomes are seen as decent. Otherwise, indecision does nothing for you, and by comparison, the bold decision makers seem far luckier. Face your fears and make bold decisions.

2. Know the Odds. You can also improve your luck simply by knowing the odds. If you don’t know what the chances of success are, you might find yourself to be unlucky if you experience failure. On the other hand, if you know proactively that your chances of failure are 80 percent, you’ll be less likely to make that decision (and likely fail) in the first place. If you alter situations and improve yourself so that the majority of your decisions have odds of success in your favor, it stands to reason that you’ll experience success a greater number of times. The trick is to do as much research as you can for major decisions, so you know the full scope of the odds that you’re facing.

3. Plan for Contingencies. In business and in our personal lives, there are always possible disasters waiting around the corner. You can’t control whether or not disaster will strike; you can only control whether or not you’re prepared for it. When disaster does strike, the individuals prepared for it always seem luckier than those who aren’t prepared. However, this isn’t a product of luck; it’s a product of preparation. You can, therefore, increase your relative luckiness simply by preparing for contingencies. Always think about the worst-case scenario, consider the possible disasters that could sneak up on you, and have a plan in place for each of them. If disaster never comes, consider yourself lucky. If disaster does strike, you’ll be lucky to have been prepared.

4. Surround Yourself With Friends. Make contacts whenever you can. The wider your network of friends, acquaintances, and professional contacts, the luckier you’re going to feel. Imagine a situation where a friend wins four tickets to see your favorite band and that friend invites you–you would consider yourself lucky. The odds for this and similar scenarios multiply with each friend you have. On the other side, if disaster befalls you or if you’re going through a tough time, you’ll have more people who are willing to help you get back on your feet with job opportunities, advice, or emotional support. It’s a kind of social karma–the friendlier you are to others, the friendlier they’ll be to you.

5. Be Open to New Opportunities. Lucky people tend to be open to new experiences and new opportunities. They have a “why not?” mentality that drives them to take action, make decisions, and take calculated risks. These types of people tend to feel and seem luckier than the types of people who sit idly and let life pass them by. It’s easier to find new opportunities when you’re wandering around than it is when you’re standing in one place, and when those opportunities do come around, you’ll consider yourself lucky for having found them.

6. Be Optimistic. Optimism shouldn’t be underestimated in calculating luck. The more optimistic you are, the luckier you’re going to feel; all your successes will seem more successful, and you’ll be able to see a silver lining in practically all of your failures. If you’re feeling doubtful, remember that you can train your brain to be optimistic. All it takes is a regular dose of positive thinking. Instead of thinking about all your problems, think about potential solutions. Instead of thinking about the worst elements of life’s latest surprise, think about all the best elements. Soon, you’ll be seeing everything in a much more positive light, and you’ll feel luckier as a result.

Using these strategies, you can positively increase your luck in all matters, both personal and professional. Understand that luck is an abstract concept and can’t be empirically measured, but the subjective experience of luck can be improved through simple changes to your mentality and your approaches to certain situations. When you feel luckier, you’ll experience more success, and even your failures won’t feel so bad.

Luck is thought to happen by chance; it’s not thought to be something you can plan for or obtain by intention. Some say luck is decided by our fates, or believe that some fortunate souls are mysteriously born under a lucky star.

At quick glance, it might look like there is truth to that. After all, some people’s lives overflow with abundance, vitality, successful careers, and loving relationships.

However, luck is not just a random event. Webster’s Dictionary defines luck as “a force that brings good fortune or adversity; a force that operates for or against an individual.” So, if luck is a force, you should be able to tap into it … at any time!

After a great deal of research and experimentation, I am here to tell you that there are ways in which you can tap into positive force and improve your luck. Indeed, luck is the product of our own mental focus and attitudes. Imagine now that by changing your focus, you can intentionally increase the amount of luck you experience in all areas of life.

Janice Taylor is the author of the Our Lady of Weight Loss blog on Beliefnet, and the book, All is Forgiven, Move On.

## Tune in to Your Gut

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## Tune in to Your Gut

Nearly all of the lucky people I’ve met said they trust their intuition and pay close attention to their gut feelings. A good way to increase your ability to “hear” your gut is to empty your mind. Meditation is one way to effectively clear your mind and tune in to your gut. After all, it’s difficult to hear your intuitive self when your mind is overflowing with thoughts and to-do lists.

Everyone wants to be lucky and a lot of people tried so many things just to have some luck. We all want things to go our way and for life to deliver great opportunities, an inflow of money and people whom we get along with. Some seem to have all that and it looks very easy for them while the rest of us struggle along, doing our best and hoping for a lucky break. Thankfully, there are ways you can give the universe a nudge to help you attract good luck.

## 10 Methods to Attract Good Luck

### 1. Make New Friends

Many opportunities come via people we know. More friends equals more opportunities. Get out there, find like-minded people and socialize. If you can mix with active, interesting people, you have a much better chance of hearing about likely opportunities. Friends have friends who have friends. Go out and meet them; build your network.

### 2. Try New Things

You may not have discovered your passion or your life’s work yet. Unless you attempt new things, you may never discover what that is. Keep an open mind to all possibilities. You don’t know if you could be an talented ceramicist unless you pick up a lump of clay and give it a go. How do you know that you aren’t a gifted energy healer? Or an amazing tarot reader? No-one ever said, on their death-bed, “Gosh, I wish I hadn’t done all those things.” People who broaden their minds and their life experience become interesting characters who attract good luck and good friends.

### 3. Relax to Attract Good Luck

Stop focusing on what is going on in your life and begin to look at what is happening around you. Turn your attention outward. People who are anxious and uptight tend not to see the chances life is offering to them. They are too wrapped up in their own fears. Easy to say, but until you learn how to relax and let go of your resistance, good luck will elude you.

### 4. Look For Signs and Symbols

You are being guided by your inner being, guardian angel, fairies of the universe, call it what you will. There’s a divine intelligence available to all of us, but most shut it out, preferring to rely on our senses for information. One way to begin to pay attention to those whispers from the universe is to look for signs and symbols. Trying to make a decision? Guidance is being offered to you. It might be a line in a book or a song. A particular bird in a particular place. A literal road sign. The name of a store. A number which keeps showing up for you. Teach yourself to be aware of the subtle hints all around.

### 5. Adopt an Attitude of Knowing

During your self-talk, you’ll find yourself wishing for something to happen, some good outcome or the manifestation of a desire. We all do it. Instead of wistfully wishing adopt an attitude of sureness, of knowing that it will come to you. Say, “When that thing I want comes into my life…” instead of “I wish I could have that thing…” Wishing in that way is yearning. Yearning emphasizes what you don’t have. Knowing tells the universe that you are certain it will be delivered. And it will be – unless something better comes along.

We’re not encouraging you to gamble, but you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket. In the same way, you can’t gain from an investment if you don’t make the investment. You won’t get the job unless you apply for it. So help yourself to attract luck – buy the ticket.

### 7. Go With Your Gut

Your gut feeling is your intuition. While many dismiss intuition as wishful thinking or indigestion, scientists have shown that intuition is real. In fact, many important scientific discoveries have occurred because scientists followed their own intuition. And of course, we at PsychicOz KNOW that it is very real. Intuition is expressed through a feeling, a quiet thought, or perhaps a compulsion to take action even if we don’t know why. Scientists say that intuitive feelings are a result of our subconscious recognizing patterns. Patterns which we have absorbed and learned without realizing.

### 8. Expect Good Luck

Expectation is similar to knowing, as described above. Expectation is more general. Someone who lives in expectation of good things happening will attract good luck throughout their life. That doesn’t mean they won’t suffer ‘negative’ events, it simply means they have programmed themselves to a positive expectation. When they get it, it feels natural; the normal course of events. Many people do the exactly opposite, they program themselves to expect the worst and are always surprised when the ‘worst’ keeps turning up.

### 9. Play With the Law of Attraction

Have fun with all this. Play some Law of Attraction games. You have nothing to lose and you don’t need to tell anyone, do you? Try our money manifesting techniques . Or maybe our more general magical manifestation technique. Perhaps you are hoping to be lucky in love? We have ideas for attracting love too.

### 10. Give Good Luck

Have you thought about making someone else feel lucky? One of the easiest and most satisfying ways to attract good luck to yourself is to give it to another. Tape an envelope with a dollar or two inside to a park bench or other place where you’ll know it will be found. You could write on the front, “Have a coffee on me.” You never know… that two dollars might save someone’s life, or restore their faith in humanity, or simply pay for them to have a good cup of coffee. Make someone feel it’s their lucky day.

In September 1928 a bacteriologist name Alexander Fleming came back from a “holiday” (vacation) to find a set of petri dishes which had been “necessarily exposed to the air” had become contaminated by various micro-organisms. One of those petri dishes had grown a mold that appeared to be inhibiting the growth of a colony of Staphylococcus aureus. (You can read the original paper here)

To quote Dr. Fleming: “When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer.”

You’ve probably heard this story before. However, there is a second part to the penicillin story that is told a lot less.

What happened following the discovery on the part of Dr. Fleming was practically nothing. He published a paper on his findings, and that was pretty much it. Sure he did some more research in the area, but he ultimately concluded that his discovery wouldn’t be useful for treating infection and wasn’t worth pursuing further. Effectivity his part in the story stopped right after publication.

I want to pause to let that sink in for a second.

Not many people realize that it is entirely possible that the publication could have been the end of the story. or worse it might not have even made publication. If that were the case no one would would have benefited from perhaps the greatest life saving discovery in the 20th century.

What did happen (a decade after publication) was that an Oxford Scientist named Dr. Howard Florey was reading back issues of The Journal of Experimental Pathology and ran into Fleming’s article. It interested him enough to try and reproduce the work, eventually culminating in a streptococcus study of mice in 1940 with Dr. Ernst Chain & Dr. Norman Heatley. That study produced verifiable results that the production of antibiotics were indeed possible (though engineering efforts were required to make mass production viable).

### How narratives shape our perception

Dr. Fleming’s story is clearly in the genre of “dumb luck” (supposedly he even used the most famous phrase in all of science: “Huh. That’s funny. “). Sure, he was a trained bacteriologist, and he had been working on infectious disease studies for a long time, but the mold literally fell out of the air perfectly into his petri dish.

Dr. Florey’s is on the other side of the “narrative” coin. He built a top lab at Oxford through hustle and grit. According to a PBS article on Florey he was “a master at extracting research grants from tight-fisted bureaucrats and an absolute wizard at administering a large laboratory filled with talented but quirky scientists.” His “discovery” of the Fleming study was the result of searching, learning, and accumulating resources to be able to leverage.

These two versions of the “luck narrative” form a dichotomy for the way people like to look at luck. Either 1) serendipity is out of our control and “the gods will gift who they deem worthy” or 2) we can make our own luck through hard work, and determination.

### What is luck anyway?

So the following is what is called the “Probability Mass Function” (one way of defining “luck”):

$$f(x,n,p) = \fracp^n(1-p)^x-n$$

To be “lucky” in the mathematical sense is where an agent achieves a successful (or unsuccessful) outcome that exceeds its probabilistic expectation given an environment. (link)

“Luck”, in the colloquial sense, is the result of chance. It’s a surprise, an unexpected event. You have “bad” luck when bad (unexpected) things happen to you or “good” luck when good things happen to you. Luck in this sense is all around us, impacts us all, with the only difference being how much it effects us.

[This colloquial luck has powerful psychological effects too. Higher socioeconomic status is correlated with lower belief in luck and vice-versa (e.g. research). ]

## How can one improve their luck?

So how can you improve your luck?

. Well, you can’t. Thanks for reading my article! (just kidding)

That is to say, you can’t improve your luck in a “mathematical sense.” Luck in that sense is actually random. otherwise it wouldn’t be luck.

“Luck” in the colloquial sense however is arguably more about narrative than probability. The magnitude of the outcomes in “colloquial luck” create the perceived “luckiness.” Receiving an “asymmetric payoff” makes you appear to be more lucky. So if you are interested in improving your luck in the colloquial sense you can accomplish this by exposing yourself to environments that have outsized payouts.

. Ergo the process of “Improving your luck” is simple. Marry together what we know about mathematical luck and colloquial luck.

Start by finding environments that can provide outsized payouts. I cannot stress enough how important it is to FIND THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT, as it will basically be the single largest influence on your probability of success. Searching for these sorts of environments takes work. You need to figure out as accurately as possible what your probability of success will be, so that you can commit to working in that environment. which is no easy task.

After you have chosen the right environment you want to search for ways to improve the probability of being successful and execute them. More often than not the simplest way to improve the probability of a successful outcome is just to increase the number of attempts. But similarly, there are often ways to decrease the total number of attempts needed to be successful- basically influence your environment in a way that is favorable to you.

And of course the last piece of the puzzle is to figure out ways to increase the narrative value when you are successful. Being perceived as being lucky is a powerful attribute and can help you improve your “luck” for future opportunities.

### Hundreds of millions of lives saved.

When looking back at Dr. Howard Florey, his search through back issues of the Journal of Experimental Pathology was effectively his way of choosing the environment he wanted to work in. He was beginning in a place that already had some level of success and he knew he could increase the chances of success by starting with something that was already somewhat successful. The work of Alexander Fleming wasn’t just a starting place- it reduced the total number of attempts it would take to be successful. all Florey had to do was put the work in and there was a good chance that luck would find him. The final piece of the puzzle was that Florey was choosing to work on something that had an outsized payout or impact.

. If you want it distilled, here’s your recipe for improving your luck:

1. Select what you work on carefully.
2. Make sure that you can be successful and that the payouts are outsized.
3. Try to find ways to reduce what it takes to be successful.
4. Be focused and work hard.

If you liked the article you should check out my monthly newsletter “Cocktail Napkin Math”:

## Four serendipitous tips to keep you in good fortune

The power failure last night resulted in your phone not charging, which resulted in your alarm never going off, which means you got up and out late — but just in time to feel the bus you needed to catch woosh past you (splashing a singular sampling of city puddle sludge across your new white cashmere coat). Is it karma? Is it fate? Why did I buy a white cashmere coat? Stop your questioning, unfortunate soul.

As luck would have it, you don't really need any. Because it's really something of a science — which, good news, means you can life-hack it. Here's why and how:

Luck doesn't happen in a vacuum (or anywhere near your sofa)

In How Luck Happens: Using the Science of Luck to Transform Work, Love, and Life Janice Kaplan and Barnaby Marsh posit that much of luck is really just better networking.

When it comes to luck, who you know and interact with weekly certainly matters but not nearly as much as the people you may know through them. Whether you're seeking a good bounce in love or career, it's the people you only sort of know who tend to yield the most fortune. Mark Granovetter, Stanford professor of sociology, says the principle is measurable and he's labeled it "the strength of weak ties." You and your friends already know all the same folks, but those FB friends on the fringes of you social circles have completely unique social networks. Put another way, there's gold in them there friends because they come with an expansive community of options for "luck". And those people know people… and so on. Exponential luck.

Very superstitious writing on the wall… should be heeded

Believe to achieve is an old chestnut that's in no danger of disappearing, and that may be because there's some science to back it up. Researchers have examined superstition to find that your lucky t-shirt (or socks or playoff beard) can in fact put you on the favourable side of chance. One 2010 study had golfers use a standard "ball everyone else had used" and then try their chances with a "lucky ball". The findings were clear: performance improved significantly when a golf ball blessed with fortune was launched down the green. That same study showed that people who were allowed to hang on to their preferred lucky charm from home fared far better when given problem-solving tasks and memory tests. The study authors write that "activating a superstition boosts participants' confidence in mastering upcoming tasks, which in turn improves performance." The real crux, they suggest was "perceived self-efficacy" — or rather, the potential presence of some lucky thing or action made them believe in themselves more. Ultimately, they were far more persistent when tackling challenging tasks because they already felt empowered by something outside of themselves.

So that special phrase, sacred mantra or lucky trinket you favour can really bolster confidence. Something as basic as "I've got this" can change your attitude — which of course changes everything — especially how you approach even the simplest tasks. It's a roundabout form of positive thinking which, kindly reminder, also helps you live longer.

Speak up and your chances to clean up, well, blow up

Socially conscious entrepreneur and life coach, Lara Galinsky, once ran a consulting firm that orchestrated "luck circles". She told media that "luck sounds mystical, but it starts from the very grounded place of knowing what you want." Just saying the right thing to the right person at the right time is often labeled good fortune but it really just happens by virtue of interacting openly with others. "Being declarative about your own desires and putting them into the world creates the conditions for luck," she says. "When you have clear ideas of what you want and see the world as something you can affect, you elicit lucky reactions. It's about openness and possibility and capturing chance." The power of intent comes into play here and it too, has been studied at length. One passage in the book The Intention Experiment has William A. Tiller, professor Emeritus at Stanford, posit that "for the last 400 years, an unstated assumption of science is that human intention cannot affect what we call physical reality. Tiller's research has shown that fruit fly larvae grow 30% faster when positive human intention was directed towards them. Your feelings toward creatures with a larval stage matter not. The take away is intention matters. For any doubters reading this, note that MythBusters proved something similar with houseplant growth. It's plausible. So, get out there and gab a little — with positive intention, mind you.

Consider yourself lucky and you will be

Luck, as it turns out, is something of a mind game — and one you can skew in your favour. In an experiment that pitted self-described lucky folk against unlucky ones, Richard Wiseman, professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire had subjects count the number of photographs they found in a newspaper. On one page, however, he'd written in massive bold type "STOP COUNTING – THERE ARE 43 PHOTOGRAPHS IN THIS NEWSPAPER." On a later page he also wrote "TELL THE EXPERIMENTER YOU'VE SEEN THIS AND WIN £250". Time and time again, the lucky people tended to catch these fortunate messages and the unlucky missed them: they just kept counting. Wiseman, who has also written a book called The Luck Factor explains that the missed opportunities have much to do with an anxious mental state — unlucky people rate higher in neuroticism. He explains that "because lucky people tend to be more relaxed than most, they are more likely to notice chance opportunities, even when they are not expecting them." Happily, says Wiseman, luck can be actively cultivated with a bit of cognitive behaviour therapy. That is, if you are consistently open and mindful of potentially fortunate opportunities (because you expect them to happen in any case), you'll be able to spot a bit of good chance when it presents itself. The top four mental tips that improve your chances, according to Wiseman, are as follows:

• Listen to your gut — it knows what it's gurgling about (put another way, your instincts matter)
• Mix up your routine and be open to brand new experiences
• Keep a daily journal where you can jot down moments of good fortune so you can begin to see your own lucky patterns (a few minutes a day is fine)
• And because luck is self-fulfilling, it pays dividends to imagine good fortune before every and any important phone call, meeting or event (simply visualize it going well).

Fortune, so says science, really is what you make it. Lining the fates up in your favour should at least allow you the means to purchase a battery operated alarm clock or new coat (maybe go for something darker this time). I mean, think of the prosperity that allowed you to buy your old coat in the first place. I know, I'll stop. Lastly, I'd wish you good luck out there, but it turns out you don't really need it.

Marc Beaulieu is a Montreal writer, producer, performer, professional host and mental health advocate whose one true love is weird news.

Luck seemed to run out for Karla Starr on a frigid day in Alaska when a car accident left her lying in a ditch with a fractured skull and a shattered wrist.

The aftermath was brutal: a difficult recovery, $200,000 in medical bills and the gnawing feeling life was passing her by. “I kept thinking, I’m so unlucky: I had to declare bankruptcy, I had brain surgery,” Starr, 38, a writer based in New York, told TODAY. “Why did this happen to me?” That 2003 crash and the Great Recession a few years later led her to try to “make sense of the word’s randomness” — or the many different trajectories people’s lives can take, how luck plays a role and whether we have influence over any of it. The result is her new book, “Can You Learn To Be Lucky? Why Some People Seem to Win More Often Than Others.” ## Josh Altman of 'Million Dollar Listing': Prepare yourself for luck When asked to answer the question posed by the title, Starr was quick to reply. “It is absolutely something that you can learn. You can put yourself in the right spot, you can be open to things that come along, you can re-frame what things mean,” she said. “It’s actually very exciting to think about what is under our control. I think people sell themselves short and have a lot more power to impact their lives than they realize.” To be clear, the strategies aren’t about what some sociologists call the gambling-and-horse racing view of luck — or trying to beat the mathematical odds of, say, winning the lottery. Rather, it’s cultivating certain behaviors and a receptive attitude that can maximize a lucky outcome. ### Related ### Why these 5 foods are eaten for good luck in the new year Why these 5 foods are eaten for good luck in the new year When Richard Wiseman, author of “The Luck Factor: The Scientific Study of the Lucky Mind,” studied people who reported lots of good fortune in their lives, he found they had a few psychological traits in common. They were relaxed and open to change; they listened to their intuition and acted quickly; and they were optimistic and resilient, he wrote in The Guardian. Starr found similar results. She offered these tips based on her research: ## 1. Just keep showing up Luck doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it grows when you leave the house. It’s easy to stick to a routine, but it’s precisely when you venture into new territory that you may stumble upon luck, Starr said. It goes back to the famous saying: You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. “All it takes is one lucky encounter,” Starr noted. “What people should be doing is assigning a positive value to the unknown and just showing up for things.” Say “yes” to invitations, try a new hobby and sign up for a class. You could make friends with someone who introduces you to your future spouse or the gatekeeper of your dream job three months later. ## 2. Realize that other people provide your luck Winning a lottery is not what good fortune looks like for 99.9 percent of us in real life. Real luck is more about landing a job, getting a promotion, receiving funding for your start-up or being chosen for an opportunity you’ve always wanted. All of that depends on other people. So make lots of friends — older, younger and people who look nothing like you — and bond with others constantly, Starr advised. Maximizing luck depends on keeping diverse social connections, she said: “The more you can increase your social circle or the number of people who consider you an acquaintance, [the more people] to call upon you for a lucky opportunity.” ## 6 habits that may be preventing your promotion ## 3. Relax your grip on your current life structure Don’t cut yourself off from potential luck because you cling to one path in life, whether it’s a career or relationship, Starr wrote in her book. People don’t always realize they have self-defeating habits until they break them, she noted. “Be open to the fact that you may be clutching on to a penny … without realizing that there’s a quarter on the ground right in front of you,” Starr said. Be curious, flexible, engaged and keep an open mind. Change is scary, but it can bring better opportunities. ## 4. Spend an hour on your body every day Starr received that memorable piece of advice from an image consultant who advocated exercising during that time. Staying in shape can boost your luck by reducing stress and keeping your body at its best, Starr said. “I was amazed and impressed at how often this whole idea of minimizing stressors came up as an important factor in luck,” she noted. “When we minimize stress in our lives, we can think better, we’re more creative, we’re happier, it’s easier to get to know people… Your brain is a part of your body, so everything positive that you do for your body you also do for your brain.” Remember, too, that luck can depend on assumptions people make about you, so a fit, healthy body will help you present the best image. ## 5. Give other people a chance to surprise you To minimize potential danger, evolution has taught us to judge other people quickly. You may opt out of socializing with someone based on a quirky first impression even though it takes a long time to get to know people, Starr said. If you judge too quickly, you may end up missing out on having your world open up in an unexpected way. Luck is what catches us off guard, she noted. “I really do try to give other people or other things the benefit of the doubt and open up a little bit,” Starr said. ## 6. Keep your lucky items Research shows items that people consider lucky can actually boost performance because they decrease anxiety and increase confidence, Starr said. So go ahead, wear that (discreet) charm to a job interview — it may boost your luck. In 1938, a Detroit street sweeper named Joseph Figlock saved the life of a baby falling from an apartment building. A lucky moment, indeed. It was also an odd coincidence, because, according to Time magazine, the same man had performed the very same act just a year prior. Even more astounding? It was reported to be the same baby. Astonishing tales like this make us laugh in disbelief. But behind the laughter lurks fear: Humans have a deep psychological need for the universe to feel controllable—or at least predictable. “People are much more relaxed if they feel in command, whether they really are or not,” says David Hand, a British statistician and author of The Improbability Principle. “The notion that events might happen just by chance can be terrifying.” As a species, we persuade ourselves that we can influence random events, a fantasy psychologists call “the illusion of control.” Casino gamblers throw dice more gently when they want lower numbers, according to one study. In another, 40 percent of subjects believed they could get better outcomes from tossing a coin the more they practiced. It’s little wonder, then, that people sit up and listen when self-help gurus claim to offer techniques for learning to be luckier. The good news is that, in some sense, you really can “make your own luck.” For starters, forget about influencing the outcome of truly chance-based events, like coin tosses or lottery draws. You should also avoid trying to make your own luck by focusing on the outcomes you desire, as advised in New Age bestsellers like The Secret. Research by the psychologists Gabriele Oettingen and Doris Mayer indicates that the more people positively fantasize about, say, getting a great job, the less money they end up earning, perhaps because fantasy replaces effort that could get them ahead in the real world. Similarly, people who positively fantasize more about romance are less likely to ask out potential partners on actual dates. Such findings draw attention to the fact that “luck” is an ambiguous term. We use it to describe life’s sheer randomness—but also to explain those opportunities we encounter because we’ve looked for them. Expose yourself to new people and events and you’re far more likely to meet your next employer—or the love of your life—than if you stay locked in your home. The best approach, research suggests, isn’t a laser-like focus on what you think you want. It’s to cultivate a radical openness to unplanned experiences, loosen your grip on your goals, and embrace uncertainty. Several years ago, the psychologist Richard Wiseman recruited subjects who thought of themselves as either unusually lucky or unlucky. The self-described lucky ones, he discovered, shared a set of behavioral traits that maximized their good fortune. They were receptive to new experiences and invested time in expanding their social and professional networks; when things went wrong, they reminded themselves that things could have gone worse. By focusing less on their goals, they actually accomplished those goals more efficiently. In one experiment, Wiseman asked participants to count the number of photographs in a newspaper. The unlucky people diligently plodded through. The lucky ones were far more likely to spot one of two messages Wiseman had inserted on the page. The first read “Stop counting—there are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” The other offered a$250 reward if the reader just asked the experimenter for the cash.

Wiseman concluded that being too goal-focused can actually interfere with achieving goals, something that bears out when you look at successful entrepreneurs. The popular stereotype of the innovator who envisions a miraculous new product or service and then stubbornly fights to make it real isn’t accurate, according to management scholar Saras Sarasvathy. Rather, the most successful innovators are the ones who are willing to use the people and resources at their disposal to take action—even if they can’t see the endpoint.

Uncertainty feels uncomfortable, so we’re tempted to do whatever we can to get rid of it. But learning to tolerate it instead will bring you better luck. Writer Karla Starr refers to this as “structured serendipity.” Don’t abandon your daily schedule, she advises, but make sure it includes chances for unexpected things to happen. Spend an hour wandering a bookstore; invite a random acquaintance for coffee. On social media, follow some people whose enthusiasms you don’t already share. Leave extra time for errands, to permit spontaneous detours en route.

And whether or not you improve your luck, you can take solace in the fact that you’re certainly luckier than Maureen Wilcox. In 1980, she bought tickets for the Massachusetts and Rhode Island lotteries and picked the winning numbers for both. Unfortunately, her Massachusetts numbers were the winning ones in Rhode Island and vice versa, so she won nothing.

And yet, Hand points out, statistically speaking, Wilcox was no less lucky than anyone else who didn’t win that week. The true lesson of her story isn’t that some people have terrible luck; it’s that almost everyone who plays the lottery loses. Spend those dollars on a cup of coffee with a stranger instead.

This story originally appeared in an issue of mental_floss magazine. Subscribe here.

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