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10 Things Lucky People Do Differently

by Boyd

I have great news!  Today could be your lucky day.  It’s not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice.  Lucky people are ordinary people who make their own good luck by thinking and behaving in ways that create good fortune in their lives.  Here’s what they do differently:

1.)  Lucky people maintain a relaxed attitude that is open and aware.

A study by psychologist Dr. Richard Wiseman surveyed a bunch of people to find out who considered themselves lucky or unlucky.  Wiseman gave both the ‘lucky’ and the ‘unlucky’ people a newspaper and asked them to look through it and tell him how many photographs were inside.  That’s it.  Luck wasn’t on their minds, just some silly task.

He found that on average the unlucky people took two minutes to count all the photographs, whereas the lucky ones determined the number in a few seconds.  How could the lucky people do this?  Because they noticed a message on the second page that read, “Stop counting.  There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.”  So why didn’t the unlucky people see it?  Because they were so intent on counting all the photographs that they missed the message.

When people are focused on a single task, blocking out every other possibility, they miss chance opportunities that could be important.  Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore they see what is there rather than seeing only what they are looking for.  Unlucky people do the opposite.  They go to parties with the sole intent of finding their perfect partner, and so they miss opportunities to make good friends or meet people who might be able to help them in their careers.  They look through the newspaper determined to find specific jobs, and overlook great openings.

The same principle applies when lucky people meet and chat with other people. They are relaxed and attuned to the opportunities around them. Lucky people see what is there, rather than trying to find exactly what they want to see.

In the real world, you’ve got opportunities all around you.  If your mind is closed, you’re not going to spot them.  Being relaxed and open allows you to see what’s really around and maximize the potential of what’s right under your nose.

2.)  Lucky people use intuition and gut instincts to make successful decisions.

Lucky people simply know when a decision is right.  They trust themselves to decide.  And if they get it wrong, they take it as a lesson learned and then adjust their approach.  In contrast, unlucky people view many of their poor decisions as yet more evidence of how they are always destined to fail.

In his book, The Luck Factor, Dr. Wiseman discusses another study he conducted in which more than a hundred lucky and unlucky people answered a short questionnaire concerning the role of intuition – the rather curious sensation that something we have just done, or are about to do, is very right or very wrong – in their lives.  When it came to luck, intuition mattered.  Lucky people’s gut feelings and hunches tended to pay off time and time again.  In contrast, unlucky people often ignored their intuition and regretted their decisions.

3.)  Lucky people notice little things and solve small problems.

I chatted with an aspiring web application developer recently who was complaining that all the big ideas were being worked on already and that there was nothing groundbreaking left to do.  As he talked, I realized he was referencing massive projects that others were working on that seemed mostly out of reach.  And as I thought about all these ‘grand ideas’ I realized that in most cases they probably didn’t start with a massive plan or project, but rather started by trying to solve a simple problem.  The biggest accomplishments often originate from humble roots, yet not many people realize this.

This is the impression I get when I read about the early stages of companies like Google.  I’m pretty sure Google’s founders didn’t have the goal of organizing the all of the world’s information as their primary focus when they first started – instead they started with a series of smaller problems (problems are potential opportunities) and slowly expanded their end goal from there.

4.)  Lucky people treat their failures as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Everything in life is a lesson.  Everyone you meet, everything you encounter, etc.  They’re all part of the learning experience we call ‘life.’

Never forget to acknowledge the lesson.  If you don’t get a job you wanted or a relationship doesn’t work, it only means something better is out there waiting.  And the lesson you just learned is the first step towards it.  Lucky people learn from their mistakes.  When ill fortune blocks the path to their goals, they explore other ways of solving the problem and squeeze some benefit from their misfortune.

Unlucky people often dwell on mistakes from the past, obsessing about the bad luck that put them in their present unlucky situation.  But remember, good luck has a lot to do with choice.  Use all of the lessons you have learned to make educated decisions and create good luck for yourself in the future.

5.)  Lucky people appreciate what they have right now.

When you appreciate what you have, what you have appreciates in value.  If you are in the constant habit of feeling and giving gratitude, the world wants to give you more and more.  Pay close attention to the present, many people aren’t so lucky.

You already have some amazing things in your life, whether you realize it or not.  Most of us have incredible family members, friends, other loved ones who love us back.  Learn to appreciate what a miracle that is.  Most of us have good health, which is another miracle.  Most of us have eyes, with which to enjoy the amazing miracles of sunsets and nature and beauty all around us.  Most of us have ears, with which to enjoy music, one of the greatest miracles ever.  Be grateful for each of these things, and more!

Take time every day, throughout the day, to thank life for all that it has given you, to thank others for what they give you, to simply be grateful.  Read Stumbling on Happiness.

6.)  Lucky people work toward their goals every day without fail.

The harder you work, the luckier you will become.  Stop waiting around for things to work out on their own.  They won’t.  If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.

While many of us decide at some point during the course of our lives that we want to answer our calling, only an astute few of us actually work on it.  By ‘working on it,’ I mean truly devoting oneself to the end result.  The rest of us never act on our decision.  Or, at best, we pretend to act on it by putting forth an uninspired, half-assed effort.

If you want good luck in your life, you’ve got to be willing to give it 100% every day.  No slacking off!  Take some advice from one of America’s most influential founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin:  “Diligence is the mother of good luck”.  Achieving your goals and dreams can be a lot of work.  Be ready for it.

7.)  Lucky people help when they’re able.

It’s impossible to help someone else and not get a little help for yourself in the process.

The old saying “what goes around comes around” is definitely true in all walks of life, and it comes around when you least expect it.  In life, you get what you put in.  Remember, luck often comes in the form of help when you need it most, and the best way to ‘grease the rails’ for help when you’ll eventually need it is by helping others right now.

When you help others, don’t expect something in return.  Just enjoy the experience of helping that person and building a stronger personal relationship.  That stronger relationship will likely be there for you in your moments of darkness.

8.)  Lucky people tend to see the positive side of their ill fortune.

They imagine how things could have been so much worse.  For example, research shows that Olympic athletes who win bronze medals are typically happier than their silver medalist counterparts.  This is because silver medalists think that if they had performed slightly better they might have won a gold medal.  In contrast, bronze medalists focus on how if they’d performed slightly worse, they wouldn’t have won anything at all.

Having a positive outlook on life is a must if you are to become a luckier person.  If your outlook on life is doom and gloom, then that’s all you’ll experience.  Fortunately, the opposite is also true.  When you dwell on the negative events in your life, you will experience only the negative.  But when you concentrate on positive events, you will begin to feel much happier and luckier.

You control your luck and your life by controlling your thoughts.  Keep a luck diary.  At the end of each day, spend a couple of moments writing down the positive and lucky things that happened.  Once you get in the habit of seeing the bright side, it will be difficult to see it any other way.

9.)  Lucky people enjoy new experiences and take calculated risks.

If you want more luck, mix it up.  Unlucky people tend to be creatures of habit.  They take the same route to and from work every single day, talk to the same types of people at social functions, and live out the same routine day in and day out.  In contrast, lucky people try to introduce variety into their lives.  They are adventurous.  They take calculated risks.  They are consistently taking action in the face of uncertainty.

When you take small risks, either you succeed or you learn something.  Win-Win.  Take the leap even when you can’t see every last detail coming over the horizon.  Remember, if you never act, you will never know for sure, and you will be left standing in the same unlucky spot forever.

If you need a little push, try playing the dice game.  Make a list of six new experiences – things that you have never done before but wouldn’t mind trying.  Some of the experiences might be fairly simple and others might be more adventurous.  Write down a list of the experiences and number them 1 to 6.  Then, roll a die and carry out whichever experience is selected.  What a fun way to bring new experiences, risk and possibly luck into your life.  Read Feel the Fear… and Do It Anyway.

10.)  Lucky people believe they CAN.

In all walks of life, positive beliefs have the power to become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Lucky people believe they CAN be successful.  Studies have shown that a managers’ positive beliefs and expectations in their staff have a profound effect on the productivity and success rate of their staff.  Likewise, managers who believe in themselves motivate the people around them to perform well and believe in themselves as well, while those with poor expectations cause those around them to become despondent and unproductive.

Positive beliefs and high expectations also motivate lucky people to persist even in the face of considerable adversity; which means they eventually reach the finish line as the other contenders walk back to the starting line.


Those who take responsibility for their own lives and actions know that luck can be created.  Live each day believing in yourself and your ability to be lucky, and over time you will be.  I challenge you to review each bullet point again and think of your own personal luck in recent times.  Think about how lucky you are right now.

Photo by: Suradej Chuephanich

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