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  • Ever wondered why some people seem to have all the luck?

  • We've been trying to improve our luck for centuries: lucky charms, amulets, and talismans have figured in virtually every recorded civilization.

  • Early Europeans believed iron had magical qualities, so hanging horseshoes in your house was meant to ward off spirits.

  • Touching or knocking on wood is said to date back to Celtic rituals that were designed to rouse the tree gods and call on their protection.

  • Throughout history, people have recognized that good and bad luck can transform lives.

  • A few seconds of bad luck can overturn years of hard work, and moments of good luck can save years of striving.

  • Superstition represents people's attempts to improve and control their luck.

  • British psychologist and author Richard Wiseman undertook a ten year study on the science of luck.

  • In one experiment he asked people to look through a newspaper and count the number of photographs inside.

  • On average it took the people who thought of themselves as unlucky around two minutes.

  • People who thought of themselves as lucky on the other hand took a few seconds.

  • Why?

  • Because on the second page, there was a message that said, in a massive font, "Stop counting, there are 43 photographs in this newspaper."

  • The lucky people it seems were more open to possibilities other than the ones they were searching for.

  • There are four main psychological principles that separate lucky people from unlucky ones.

  • So first of all, lucky people are more open to opportunities, spotting them and making the most of them.

  • Second, they tend to be optimists, and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

  • They're pushing forward, they're expecting the best.

  • Also differences in terms of intuition: lucky people tend to have lucky hunches and trust their intuition.

  • And finally, they're more resilient: When bad things happen, they're good at turning that bad luck into good fortune.

  • So big differences in the way they think and the way they behave.

  • But whilst it's true that if you train hard you are more likely to win a sporting event, or the harder you swot for an exam the more you increase your chances of the best grade you're capable of.

  • Here's the kicker.

  • No amount of positivity, work or preparation will reduce the chance of say, being kept awake by noisy neighbors the night before an exam or slipping on a wet patch as you run during a race.

  • It would be wrong to think that all of someone's good or bad luck is entirely due to the way they're thinking and behaving.

  • When it comes to people who aren't quite so successful or happy in life we shouldn't think it's all their fault.

  • It could be down to where they're born, or the society they're born into, or chance accidents, or illnesses, and you need to take all of those factors into account.

  • In 2012 at a campaign rally, Barack Obama caused controversy when he said, "If you're successful, you didn't get that on your own."

  • "If you're successful, somebody along the line gave you some help."

  • And he raises a key factor when considering the role of luck.

  • There's a whole bunch of hard-working, positive-thinking people out there who aren't successful and certainly aren't lucky.

  • Obama's statement sparked debate, with several online publications railing against him, and public figures like republican rival Mitt Romney openly rebuffing him.

  • For many, Obama's comments were seen as an insult to the American work ethic and the idea that success was achieved through merit.

  • But as the economist Robert H. Frank argues, talent and drive will get you so far, but luck, and life chances, will also play a huge role.

  • What if you asked the question, "Where do your talents come from?"

  • "Where does your propensity to work hard come from?"

  • If you're a hard working person who has a lot of talent, you got those traits from the environment you grew up in and from the genes you inherited.

  • You're not in any strict sense in a position to claim moral credit for them, and so we're comfortable enough saying that you're lucky to have those traits.

  • But what about the person who works hard?

  • Is that person not entitled to congratulate herself for the effort she put forward?

  • What we know is that putting forth effort in trying circumstances is difficult.

  • It requires often a Herculean will to go forward in the face of one setback after another.

  • If you're the kind of person who's been taught that your temperament alone determines whether you'll be persistent and your temperament is just a matter of luck, I think you're more likely to sit back and wait and see what happens.

  • If instead you view yourself as the captain of your own fate and think, "It's up to me to make it happen," you're much more likely to persist against a series of setbacks.

  • So it's like Richard Wiseman said earlier, "lucky and unlucky people are often determined by the way they think," which suggests that there is hope for change.

  • I think that anyone has the capability and the potential to make themselves luckier.

  • It's realizing that lots of that good fortune is due to the way you're thinking, the way you're behaving.

  • Understand the mindset of the lucky person, and you can bring more good fortune into your life.

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  • See you again soon!

Ever wondered why some people seem to have all the luck?

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B1 US lucky bad luck people good fortune unlucky successful

What do lucky people do differently? | BBC Ideas

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    ayami posted on 2019/11/11
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