It’s Better to Be Lucky

How often have you heard people say: “It’s better to be lucky than to be [something]…” take your choice of: smart, rich, good, or whatever. It’s a popular phrase precisely because there’s actually some truth to it.

Luck plays a bigger role in productivity and success than most of us are willing to admit. Although it’s most obvious in areas like sports, stock trading, and love, you can find evidence of luck contributing mightily to results in almost every area of human endeavor.

Because good or bad luck can make such a large difference, you might want to consider some of the ways you can intentionally improve your luck in key parts of your work and your life. Here are a few solid techniques to help you:

Go for More Experiences

It stands to reason that if you restrict your experiences, you’ll allow fewer opportunities for good things to happen to you. It’s also understandable that if you carefully plan out every move you make, you’ll leave room for fewer coincidences, synergies, and one-of-a-kind favorable moments to just happen, seemingly on their own.

So it makes perfect sense that the opposite is also true: the more experiences – and particularly unplanned experiences – you allow yourself, the more opportunities you’ll encounter for good things (and bad things, too – but I’ll get to those in a moment) to occur.

For example, when you make an effort to meet more people, you increase the chance of experiencing some positive synergy and fruitful connections. When you follow your hunches or instincts – which science indicates are often based on hidden patterns your subconscious mind has identified – you become more likely to benefit from some of the new things you try, do, and learn.

Keep the Glass Half Full

Another way to enjoy better luck is simply to take a more positive view of what’s going on around you. You can do this by:

  • Interpreting and reframing events in the most positive light you can see,
  • Expecting good things to happen to you, if not now, then later,
  • Focusing more on what’s going well for you and paying less attention to anything that seems sub-optimal,
  • Cultivating personal resilience, which allows you to bounce back more quickly from bad luck and be ready to pounce when good luck comes your way.

Most of us know someone whose life bears out this advice: they have a relentlessly positive attitude and – against the odds – very often seem to benefit from people and events they encounter.

Expect the Best

Attitude counts for a great deal in attracting good luck. When people say: “I have good news and bad news,” why not ask for the good news first? When people tell you they have a surprise for you, why not prepare to celebrate rather than lament? An upbeat attitude very often translates into better outcomes – which you can then attribute to your enhanced good luck.

There’s even more benefit to upbeat expectations: When you’re optimistic, you’re more willing to experiment and take chances, you’re more confident, and – perhaps most important – you’re more willing to try your hardest. In addition, studies show that these positive traits tend to reduce your stress and increase your level of performance.

I’m not going to insist that your expectations create your future, but only because Henry Ford did this for me. His classic advice was simple: “Whether you think you can or you can’t [do something], you’re right.”

Take Precautions

While good luck can flow from your positive thoughts and feelings, you can also prepare better for the possibility of bad luck. Problems, difficulties, and even catastrophes can often be prevented by taking sensible precautionary actions. For example:

  • If you get rid of winter ice on your sidewalk or stairs, you’re less likely to slip and fall.
  • If you take your car to a mechanic promptly when a warning light turns on, you’re less likely to experience a breakdown.
  • If you turn pot handles inward on your stove, young children won’t see them, grab them, and perhaps get burned by spilling the hot contents.

Whatever the situation, it’s prudent to think ahead, consider the possible risks, follow safe practices, and take appropriate precautions.

By taking proactive steps against a lot of the unlucky accidents, problems, and difficulties that would otherwise lie in wait for you, you increase your ratio of good-luck to bad-luck. You also spend less time solving problems and recovering from misfortune, which automatically leaves more room in your life for good things to happen to you.

Just think: If the Titanic had steamed at a more reasonable pace through that field of icebergs, everyone might have arrived safely in New York, and we’d have to find a different example of really terrible misfortune!  

Even if none of these ideas actually increase your level of good luck, however, they’ve been shown to make most people happier, more engaging, and more fun to be with. That’s enough of a benefit to suggest including these techniques in your approach to all your future activities.

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