Professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, Richard Wiseman, believes he’s discovered four principles of luck and knows how to help people improve their good fortune.
The idea that we can improve the chance of good things happening to us may seem difficult to swallow. After all, the word ‘luck’ describes events beyond our control – things that happen purely by chance. For instance, surely luck was a factor when British supermodel Kate Moss was ‘discovered’ at an airport when a talent scout happened to walk by and noticed her striking looks. In a similar vein, Sir Alexander Fleming only discovered penicillin when he left some laboratory bacteria uncovered and some mould fell into it which contained a substance that killed the bacteria.
Surely we can’t alter the random nature of Dominoqq events though – can we? No, probably not. Dr Wiseman’s research has involved him being with those who define themselves as either lucky or unlucky, and examining the reasons why. It’s really not such a strange idea – if you stop and think about it, you probably have an undeclared belief about just how lucky you are.
Maybe you are envious of a friend for whom everything seems to go right? Perhaps they have been lucky in their career and have progressed much faster than you – always managing to be in the right place at the right time. Maybe they met their ideal partner by accident and to cap it all, they always seem to be telling you about the most amazing things that have happened to them.
Or perhaps you know somebody for whom nothing good ever seems to happen? They don’t just have accidents – they are a walking disaster area. Their relationships are mess and their career is in the doldrums. If anyone needs a bit of luck it is them, but each week just seems to bring more bad news. Tracy Hart lives in Hertfordshire and she was one of the unlucky ones. For example, on the last day of a recent holiday she was playing with her daughter and fell down a pothole hitting her head against a wall.Thinking she hadn’t done too much damage she drove 200 miles home, but later that evening she collapsed hitting her head again and suffering concussion.
A doctor gave her medication and told her to eat three times a day while taking it. The following day she cracked her tooth and couldn’t eat for the pain – nor could she have the tooth fixed because of the medication she had been taking! “This is the way my whole life used to go, even affecting people around me,” says Tracy.”One year around Christmas, my best friend suddenly died from Hodgkin’s disease and my cat was run over by a lorry. On New Year’s Eve, I was thinking that nothing else could go wrong in the year because there was only one day left, but I received a phone call to say that my cousin had died unexpectedly from a blood clot.”
Now however, Tracy’s luck has changed. She was a participant in Dr Wiseman’s Luck School through which she learned the principles of luck and began to apply them: noticing opportunities and doing something about them; developing an ability to listen to your intuition and make successful decisions; seeing good luck in bad and not dwelling on setbacks; setting goals and expecting them to happen.
“I have convinced myself that I can succeed,” says Tracy. “Looking on the bright side has made me feel better about things. A woman almost hit me recently when I was out in my car – instead of thinking of it as a potential disaster,! moved on and thought ‘That was lucky!’ I now take control of my problems instead of blaming everything on bad luck. For example, my house was falling apart so I rang my housing officer but she didn’t return my calls. I thought about the huge benefits I’d reap if I overcame the problem, so I called the head office and spoke to the director’s PA, who complained to the housing officer for me and that galvanised her into action. I’ve waited three and a half years for this, but now they are finally renovating the building and doing up the garden – all because I now think of myself as lucky. In fact it’s even improved the number of times I win at Bingo!”.