What we think of as “luck” has almost nothing to with randomness and almost everything to do with attitude. According to psychologist Richard Wiseman, only about ten percent of life is truly random; the remaining ninety percent is defined by the way we think. Wiseman says we have more control over our lives — and our luck — than we realize.
John Krumboltz and Al Levin, the authors of Luck is No Accident, agree. In that book, they write:
You have control over your own actions and how you think about the events that impact your life. None of us can control the outcomes, but your actions can increase the probability that desired outcomes will occur. There are no guarantees in life. The only guarantee is that doing nothing will get you nowhere.
Wiseman says that “lucky” people share four attributes:
- Lucky people make the most of opportunity. This is more than just being in the right place at the right time. Lucky people must be aware when an opportunity presents itself, and they must have the courage to seize it.
- Lucky people listen to their hunches. They heed their gut instincts.
- Lucky people expect good fortune. They’re optimistic. They think win-win. They make positive choices that benefit themselves and others.
- Lucky people turn bad luck into good. They fail forward, learning from their mistakes and finding the silver lining in every cloud. There’s a Spanish saying, “No hay mal que por bien no venga,” which can be roughly translated as, “There is no bad from which good could not come.” Lucky people believe this.
Our attitudes produce our luck.
In Impro, Keith Johnstone’s book about improvisational theater, he writes:
People with dull lives often think their lives are dull by chance. In reality, everyone chooses more or less what kind of events happen to them by their conscious patterns of blocking or yielding.
This, my friends, is truth — perhaps the fundamental truth.
Choice is the backbone of our year-long exploration into life and meaning. The theme will appear repeatedly in the weeks and months ahead, and not just when discussing luck and fear.
At the heart of happiness is choice. We make meaning in our lives through our choices. At its core, freedom is about the ability to choose. And our financial states — for good or ill — are largely defined by choice.
“Everyone chooses more or less what kind of events happen to them.” Learn this quote, and learn to love it. Because you already live it, whether you know it or not.