Put the Science of Luck to Work for You

By Carol Kline

Carol Kline

Author, Carol Kline

Most people consider luck to be superstition or wishful thinking—which makes sense if you believe good fortune is determined by rabbits’ feet, horseshoes, and four-leaf clovers. But recent research in the field of Positive Psychology suggests it’s time to rethink that stance: the data show that our luck (or lack of it) is firmly rooted in scientific cause and effect.

Luck is far less random than we think. Although there’s a small component of luck that’s due to chance, the majority of what we call luck is the combined result of factors completely within our control: our actions, attitudes, and associations. Even the part that looks like chance is often the delayed result of actions put into motion in the past—weeks, months, or even years ago.

So, the great news is that you can significantly improve your luck by being conscious about your core beliefs and your daily behavior.

Here are three science-backed techniques you can use to be luckier:

  1. Become a “cockeyed optimist.” One of the biggest determinants of good luck is the conviction that you are lucky and that you deserve to be lucky—in other words, optimism. Lucky people expect good things to happen to them and they expect to succeed. Research indicates that “lucky thinking” results in more openness to opportunities, higher performance, and more persistence and follow-through, even in the face of setbacks.
  2. Be adventurous—in ways large and small. Numerous studies show that trying new things—including varying your routine, saying yes to new ideas and methods, and tackling activities you’re afraid to do—is an important catalyst for increasing luck. Lucky people don’t spend their lives operating on autopilot. They mix it up and venture outside their comfort zone, thereby maximizing their opportunities to win. So, make a habit of going for it—especially in ways that stretch you. It’s not a coincidence the Romans advised that “Fortune favors the bold!”
  3. Find the luck in every situation—even challenging ones. Resilience and gratitude are the cornerstones of good luck. When things don’t go their way, lucky people tend to press on, learn from their mistakes, and remain positive. If you want to increase your luck, stay focused on the big picture, and don’t quit or give in to defeat. This doesn’t mean being relentlessly cheerful or suppressing your feelings. Instead, the next time something bad happens, let yourself feel whatever comes up and then in the spirit of tremendously gentle inquiry, ask yourself, “Can I be grateful for this, too?”

This will automatically change your perspective, allowing you to explore all aspects of the situation with less emotional charge. From this more open vantage point, it’s rare not to find at least one aspect of your experience that could be considered positive. Even a small dose of authentic gratitude instantly relaxes the vice grip of victimhood and sets you on the path of more proactive thinking and action, which can’t help but lead to better luck.

Remember, all conscious change begins with willingness. Be willing to be luckier than you’ve ever been before and then incorporate these proven steps into your daily life. With time, your confidence and feelings of empowerment will increase, and this will naturally steer you toward more good fortune and success.

BIO: Carol Kline is a #1 New York Times bestselling author whose books include Happy for No Reason, Love for No Reason, five books in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and the upcoming Conscious Luck: Eight Secrets to Intentionally Change Your Fortune, co-authored with Gay Hendricks.