We all know that person: the one who happily skips through life with amazing opportunities constantly falling into their lap. Perfect husband? Tick. Great job? Tick. Fabulous friendship circle? Tick, tick, tick. And there’s another person we all know. The one who can’t catch a break. Whose tales of woe come one after the other, leaving behind a trail of tears. But what if you could choose which one of those people YOU are?
“People are not born lucky,” says Professor Richard Wiseman in his bestselling book, The Luck Factor. “Instead, without realising it, lucky people are using four basic principles to create good fortune in their lives.”
The British experimental psychologist became engrossed in the mechanics of luck, and spent many years trying to understand why fortune smiles on some people and not others. “Certain people seemed to attract good luck consistently whilst others were a magnet for ill fortune,” he writes.
This proposition was illustrated by a 2010 study of how lucky charms influence behaviour. German psychologist Lysann Damisch led a research project that had participants perform a series of tasks, some with lucky charms and some without. Those who believed they had luck on their side performed significantly better than those who didn’t. In one experiment, participants were asked to putt balls into a hole four feet (1.2m) away. Those who had been told they were playing with a “lucky ball” sunk their shots 35 per cent more often.
“Activating a superstition boosts participants’ confidence in mastering upcoming tasks, which in turn improves performance,” Professor Damisch found.
Professor Wiseman hypothesised that by changing how we think and act, we could invite more luck in, devising a series of studies to discover what separates the lucky from the unlucky.