13 ways to improve your chances of enjoying good luck
One of the most infamous scenes in cinematic history belongs to Clint Eastwood in the 1971 blockbuster, Dirty Harry. Who can forget the smarmy, squirming silhouette of Andrew Robinson facing down the barrel of Eastwood’s .44 magnum as Dirty Harry utters,
“You’ve got to ask yourself a question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”
While few of us have ever had the misfortune of staring down the barrel of a menacing handgun, we’ve all struggled with life, cognizant of the blessed lives other people seem to live. “Why did she get the promotion?” you complain. “I have more experience than her.” It seems like some people just have it easier than others. They always seem to be in the right place at the right time and catch all the breaks.
On the flip side, we might pass by a family of unfortunate homeless souls lining the streets at night, counting our blessings, thinking to ourselves, “What happened to them? There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
As it turns out, there’s a lot more to inheriting good luck (and avoiding the bad) than meets the eye. You might even be surprised to learn that there are tangible decisions and attitudes you can embrace to enhance the quality of your life, resulting in a fuller, more meaningful experience.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, luck is defined as:
- A force that brings good fortune or adversity: Luck was a big factor in the outcome.
- The events or circumstances that operate for or against an individual: the loser muttered something about bad luck.
- Favoring chance: success
We have more control over our lives than we’ve been led to believe. To be sure, some people are lucky enough to be born into wealth, while others are born into mediocrity. But, that’s not where the story ends. For every unfortunate case of someone living a life of destitution, there are hundreds of stories of people who managed to pull themselves out of poverty and achieve success. But, how did they do it? Is there an inherent attitude in the “winners” that the “losers” haven’t embraced? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no.
Many psychologists and neuroscientists believe that luck isn’t something that happens to you as much as it happens because of you. In many cases, luck is something you can learn to control through cognizant decision making. The key is learning how to cultivate an awareness of your surroundings and decisions, and embracing that for every decision you make and action you take as an individual, has consequences for the rest of the world. None of us live in a bubble. Even the smallest gesture, attitude or behavior can potentially have effects for generations to come. It begins by showing an appreciation and awareness for other people, places and things. By participating in life instead of just going through the motions.
Equally important is the willingness to take risks in life. Not by running with scissors or driving without a seat belt, but venturing outside your comfort zone.
When was the last time you walked up to a perfect stranger, stuck out your hand and introduced yourself? Why haven’t you? Chances are, you were taught as a child not to reach beyond your self-imposed borders. Maybe your parents chided you, “Don’t talk to strangers,” when in fact, we probably should have been extending ourselves all along.
Granted, it might not be wise to walk up to a member of a violent motorcycle gang, unannounced. But there are thousands of interesting people sitting next to you on the bus ride to work or you pass in the halls at work. Who knows? One of them might be your next employer.
What about taking up a new hobby or sport? Have ever dreamed of floating down a pristine mountain trail through 3 feet of fluffy, white snow? You might even meet your soulmate, future husband or wife on the gondola ride to the top of the mountain. You never know.
To be sure, it’s not always necessary to throw caution to the wind by quitting your high-paying job to become a skydiving instructor. But, each of us has mental and physical limitations we can easily afford to extend. The secret is taking small steps. Perhaps it’s as small as getting to know your mailman; the guy who’s delivered your mail for the past 15 years. I’ll bet you don’t even know his name, do you?
One of the easiest ways to begin extending yourself and influencing your luck is to understand the difference between fortune, chance, and luck. There is a difference. Fortune has to do with the things that are outside of your control; the things that happen to you. While you may or may not find a parking spot in front of your apartment building, chances are you’re not going to be offered the Chief of Neurosurgery position at Johns Hopkins if you haven’t gone to medical school.
Chance is a conscious decision or action you have to take. You can wish you had pecs like Arnold Schwarzenegger, but unless you get in your car and drive to the gym, it’ not likely to happen by itself. Luck is something you can enhance. Like pursuing a master’s degree in order to get a better job.
There are 13 ways to improve your chances of enjoying good luck while minimizing the bad:
- Position yourself for success. People who enjoy good luck know there is a difference between good luck and bad, and there are things you can do to influence them. Rather than just accepting, “I always seem to have bad luck,” keep yourself open to the idea that you have power over your experiences. Luck isn’t inevitable. It’s a choice.
- Plan for success, but be ready to bail. People who are lucky keep their options open. While they shoot for the stars and take reasonable chances, they understand that sometimes, failure is inevitable. At the first sign of failure, they know when to let go and proceed in a different direction. They’re not committed to failure.
- Keep in mind that luck comes and goes. People who are lucky expect But, at the same time, they understand that nobody is lucky all the time. It’s as if they’re constantly poised for success.
- Don’t assume the blame. People who are lucky refuse to give into failure. They don’t buy into the idea that “all I ever have is bad luck.” Instead, they know the best way to turn their luck around is to look for alternatives instead of resting on their laurels.
- Stick with the winners. Winners tend to associate with winners. Look for people who are on their way up and decide what you can learn from them. Try to avoid toxic relationships that chip away at your success. Then, share what you’ve learned with others who need your help.
- Don’t be afraid to take chances. If you’re stuck in a rut of constantly incurring bad luck, try taking small to moderate risks to set yourself on a new, more positive path. Be ready to “roll with the punches;” if something doesn’t work out, try something else. Avoid the inclination, “nothing good ever happens to me.”
- Never assume that risk is 100 percent sure. People who enjoy good luck understand that there are no guarantees in life. Even though they’re willing to take risks, their decisions are tempered with the attitude that eventually, they’ll fail.
- Don’t take unnecessary chances. Lucky people always assume that their luck will run out — someday. Unlike the gambling-addicted craps player in the movies, they’re ready to walk away at any time. Even though they may have enjoyed a string of good decisions, odds are a failure may be imminent. If not, they enjoy their success and keep moving forward.
- Don’t always assume the straight path. Life is funny. Sometimes what you think will happen, may not. Other times, you’ll enjoy success when you least expect it. Other times, a failure from years ago may present itself as a success today. If you keep an open mind and avoid burning your bridges behind you, you may be surprised at the outcomes.
- Be prepared to lose with optimism. Lucky people have optimistic cores. In other words, their standard operating procedure is a success. Yet, if they incur setbacks, they assume them as the cost of doing business. They keep plodding forward with optimism.
- Listen and learn. There’s an old saying: “God gave us two eyes, two ears but only one mouth.” The concept still holds true today. By listening and observing, you’ll learn much more than trying to constantly inject your opinion. Listen and learn.
- Associate with other positive people. Most successful people tend to have positive relationships with others. While it’s possible to adopt positive outlooks as an individual, optimistic people often find it easier to feed off of each other’s energy.
- Keep busy. Positive people tend to stay busy. Why? Because it’s easier to keep the momentum going, rather than starting from scratch. Learn to manage your time so you stay busy.
At the core of living with good luck is maintaining a sense of resiliency; even when things aren’t going your way. Instead of convincing yourself, “Things never go my way,” admit that your latest choice wasn’t the best; even if it’s happened the past few times. Remember that each and every risk you take stands on its own and has nothing to do with past or future decisions.
As Albert Einstein once said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Be bold. Be positive. Never expect anything but positive results.
Note: The 13 steps are taken from Lolly Daskal article, “How to Get Lucky and Stay Lucky