Moving at the Speed of Luck: Finding Your “Essence Pace”
By Gay Hendricks, PhD
If you want to be luckier, rely more often on your internal GPS. Research in the field of Positive Psychology shows that people who consider themselves lucky are far more likely than people who consider themselves unlucky to use inner guidance to make decisions about their relationships, career, and finances. In contrast, unlucky people are prone to overthinking and waffling, afraid to make mistakes, and unwilling to trust themselves. So, learning to function from your center is a crucial luck-skill to master. This includes moving through space at a rate that’s in harmony with your core.
The vehicle for getting you to the right place at the right time is your body, but most of us walk around oblivious to what’s happening inside us physically. We’re distracted by what’s going on around us or, more often, caught up in our thoughts, which are usually elsewhere—worrying about the future or regretting events in the past.
Moving at the speed of luck requires finding the stride that allows you to be present in both mind and body right where you are—in the moment happening “now.” You’re not out in front of the moment nor being dragged behind it.
I call that stride your “essence pace”—the speed at which you can move through space with a happy, sincere smile on your face. You can be moving quickly or slowly, but always with a sense of grounded ease. The key element is that you aren’t stressed or anxious. When you move at your essence pace, you’ll certainly enjoy yourself more, and, in my experience, you’re also more likely to arrive at the optimal spot at just the right time.
A story to illustrate: Some years ago, I was traveling for business and my plane landed late, making the connection time between flights very tight. The gates were far apart, and I had a long way to go in a short amount of time to make the connection. As I rushed through the airport, weaving impatiently around the crowds of people in my way, I caught my reflection in a polished surface on the concourse wall: head and torso thrust forward, a grim expression on my face. I consider rushing a sign of mental illness, and there I was in the throes of it. So, I immediately slowed down and, taking a few deep breaths, found my center.
I soon sped up again, but this time I stayed at my essence pace, conscious to maintain my centeredness. Now enjoying my walk through the airport, I rounded the corner of the concourse and approached my gate. At the counter, I saw a man berating the gate agent at the top of his lungs. “I will not be treated this way! Do you know who I am? I’ve got important business in L.A. You have to let me board this plane!”
As I came up behind the man, I heard the gate agent say, “I’m so sorry, sir. I wish I could help, but the plane is full, and the doors are closed. We called your name three times. There’s nothing more I can do.”
But the man ahead of me wasn’t having any of it. He spun around, almost knocking me over, and stalked away, still ranting. “I’ll sue the airline for every penny they have. I’ll own this airline! You’ll regret this!”
Stepping up to the counter, I smiled ruefully at the gate agent. “One of those days, huh?”
The agent shook his head and blew out a breath. “You have no idea. . . .”
I was silent for a few seconds, letting that moment of connection be, then said, “Well, my initial flight was delayed, and it looks like I’ve missed this plane. What are my options?”
The agent had just begun tapping his keyboard to find the next flight when the door to the jet bridge opened and a flight attendant came bustling over to the counter to speak to him. I heard their whispered conversation. “Hey, there was a miscount. We’ve still got one seat left in first class.”
I watched the gate agent’s head turn quickly toward the angry man storming away up the concourse. The agent looked back at me, then glanced one more time at the man’s rapidly retreating figure before again turning to me with a big smile and saying, “Well, sir, you’re in luck!”
My essence pace, with a dash of common courtesy thrown in, had put me in the right place at the right time that day—and had even gotten me an upgrade!
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Moving at the speed of luck requires letting go of whatever inside you is causing agitation in a situation. In the example above, I observed my anxiety about missing my flight and made the inner correction to come back to my own essence pace.
When you notice you’re rushing, feeling stressed or anxious, or not present—either worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet or ruminating about something that happened earlier—course‑correct by stopping and taking a few deep breaths, to feel more centered before resuming your journey.
Moving at your essence pace (or not) is a physical feeling, so from now on, as you move through your day, make a conscious effort to regularly check how you feel in your body. When you move at your essence pace, you can be going at any speed, but you always stay within your easy breath.
Once you become familiar with how your essence pace feels in your body, it will be easy to stay in it, and to realize when you need to make an adjustment to return to it. Eventually, traveling at this pace—and, by extension, the speed of luck—will becomes a habit that puts you automatically in the right place, at the right time.
Adapted from Conscious Luck: Eight Secrets to Intentionally Change Your Fortune by Gay Hendricks and Carol Kline, available May 2020.
BIO: New York Times bestselling author Gay Hendricks, PhD, has served for more than forty years as one of the major contributors to the fields of relationship transformation and body-mind therapies. His books include Conscious Loving and The Big Leap.