Mind's power in making luck - optimism breeds opportunity

Do you consider yourself lucky or unlucky? Do you feel that chance is on your side, or do you consider that luck often eludes you? Surely, you've thought about this at least once, haven't you?

Today I would like to discover together that luck does exist. And it belongs to those who are optimistic and opportunistic. And misfortune (i.e. the often painful lack of luck) also exists. And bad luck is on the side of those who do not think pragmatically, do not keep their eyes open, do not look at the world with optimism and do not know how to recognise and use opportunities.

Beyond superstition, this business of luck and misfortune is about mindset, mentality, the way we are used to looking at life. And this is scientifically proven.

Luck and misfortune depend on the way we think

A scientific study that lasted more than 10 years and was coordinated by the team of psychology professor Richard Wiseman shows that, to a large extent, luck or misfortune depends on how we think and organise our lives. Professor Wiseman's research shows that positive thinking, optimism, enthusiasm and confidence coupled with a proactive attitude actually make us feel luckier, i.e. they help us identify and seize opportunities that come our way.

Richard Wiseman chose a group of 400 very different people recruited through small advertising and conducted his study on this group. The people in the sample ranged in age from 18 to 84, had all possible levels of education and very different occupations.

The first experiment Richard Wiseman did with his 400 subjects was a newspaper browsing experiment. The newspaper had a lot of pages, and the task the test subjects were given was to count all the pictures they found in that newspaper. There were 43 pictures in the newspaper, and it took about 2 minutes to count them, to carefully flip through all the pages of the newspaper. However, the lucky ones were able to tell the researcher that there were exactly 43 pictures in the newspaper after just a few seconds.

How did they manage that? Simple: right on the second page of the newspaper, the photo placed there contained a very clear message saying exactly that: "there are exactly 43 photos in this newspaper, tell the mentor of this experiment that you have seen this message and that they should give you $250 as a prize".

While the less opportunity-minded were too busy conscientiously counting the pictures in the newspaper, the naturally resourceful opportunists thought to use the picture's indication. And of course they won the $250.

Once this first experiment was over, the 400 participants were divided into two categories: the lucky and the unlucky. For several years, the people in this sample were directly observed by the team of researchers. People completed questionnaires and intelligence tests, kept diaries and participated in all sorts of experiments, interviews and focus groups.

The conclusions drawn after more than a decade of observation are presented by Richard Wiseman in his book, The Luck factor, and are crystal clear: luck is not a magical ability. Luck is not the result of chance.

There are no people born unlucky or lucky. People's way of thinking and behaviour are directly responsible for their luck or misfortune. In other words, lucky people make their luck with their minds, just as unlucky people attract bad luck by the way they think and act.

Lucky people have four fundamental characteristics

Richard Wiseman says that lucky people have four fundamental characteristics that set them apart from the unlucky crowd.

What are they? Let's take them one at a time:

1. Lucky people seize opportunities

How does this work? Simple: lucky people think flexibly and are always looking for new ways to achieve their goals. Lucky people have developed a habit over time of introducing change and variety into their lives, they have made friends with novelty, they deliberately reject routine, they have trained their brains to always look for new things, new people, new contexts and opportunities.

They often change scenery and surroundings, enter new social circles all the time, change their holiday destinations frequently and never get bored. If you want to be lucky, it might not hurt to always change your route on your way to the office or out for a walk, so you can always see new things and get fresh ideas.

2. Lucky people listen to their intuition

Personality tests by Richard Wiseman have shown that unlucky people are generally more tense and anxious than others. Anxiety leads to indecision. On the other hand, lucky people tend to make quick decisions, listening to their intuition. Trusting their instincts, lucky people take risks but seize opportunities.

3. Lucky people are optimistic

Richard Wiseman's research shows that lucky people always find a positive side to even the most unfortunate events they have experienced. In one of his experiments, Wiseman had people imagine they were in a bank at the exact moment a robber walked in to rob the bank. The robber fires a bullet that hits the subject of the experiment in the arm.

How do you relate to this situation? The unlucky person whines and complains, saying they were unlucky to be there and to be a victim. The lucky ones, on the other hand, look on the bright side: they're glad the bullet didn't hit them in the head and that it's a wound that can heal. What's more, they figure the press or Hollywood writers will pay them big bucks to share their story when the heist is over.

4. Lucky people are resilient, they recover quickly even if they suffer shocks

Because they think positively and optimistically, lucky people get over psychological difficulties much more quickly, take a deep breath and seek to get out of difficulties very quickly. They bounce back because they have faith in the future and the opportunities that lie ahead.

"It's just a scratch, it's a good thing it wasn't worse, let it pass" is their mentality. Resilience is the ability to recover relatively quickly from a shock, to get back on track even if you have an accident along the way. And resilient people are clearly lucky, because they recover quickly and don't waste time whining, do they?

Richard Wiseman once created what he called the "School of Luck". That is, a series of experiments examining how people can improve and develop their luck by adopting habits of thought and behaviours that characterise them as lucky.

At the School of Luck, he taught the students to apply methods and techniques that give them chances and opportunities in their contexts, to constantly change their daily routines and to always think positively when something bad happens, being glad that it didn't get worse. After graduating from the School of Fortune, people were sent to live for a month in their usual contexts, and after a month they were called back to see the results.

The researcher's surprise was that 80% of Luck School graduates were happier and more satisfied with their lives after a month, and of course felt luckier. Even those who considered themselves unlucky before graduating became lucky, and those who were already lucky considered themselves much luckier after the courses than before.

That's the story for today. I hope I've convinced you that it goes something like this: the bad luck or good fortune we encounter in life is a result of the way we think and behave. Each of us has the potential to change our fate if we start thinking positively, optimistically and opportunistically.

Luck is always lurking around, but we need to train our minds to believe in progress and always look for good opportunities. So luck is not about superstition or divine blessing, it's about us, the way we think and the way we behave.

Be optimistic and careful, opportunities are always lurking around. Have courage, take risks and always get on the winning train. Good luck to you!

This article is brought to you by Blankfactor, a global leader in digital innovation for fintechs and payment processors. An American company with a global presence, Blankfactor is building a strong software engineering team in Romania, with offices in Bucharest, Cluj and Brasov and collaborating with top professionals across the country.

Blankfactor - Engineering impact.

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