When I was 12 years old I participated in my first poetry recital contest. Despite practicing my poem for many months before the contest, I was really nervous.
Normally you could imagine a parent telling their nervous child “It’s OK. You’ll be fine” or “Take some deep breaths”. But my mum didn’t do that.
Instead she downloaded a picture of a tiger from the Internet, printed it out and said this to me:
“The power of the tiger is with you at all times. This picture will give you luck and courage”.
Mum secretly knew this was ridiculous but it didn’t matter.
What she did worked.
I calmed right down and went onto deliver a great performance.
How could a little picture of a tiger make so much of a difference that night?
“If only the other kids knew about the power of tigers!” I thought. At 12, I genuinely believed that I had stumbled upon a pot of gold.
I held onto that picture for years and by the time I was 15 my room was covered with pictures of tigers in every shape and form.
But then one day it hit me. I realised that it wasn’t about the tigers. Those tigers weren’t bringing me any luck. I had created my own luck.
Here’s the thing, research has found that luck is not due to random chance or magical abilities.
Psychologist and Luck expert Richard Wiseman states-
“Lucky people generate their own good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good”
In short, lucky people think and behave differently to others. As a result, good things happen to them.
They tend to be positive people that don’t dwell on misfortune or the past.
They also generally ooze positivity and it’s this positive mindset that helps them to persevere in the face of setbacks. They think, “If I just work really hard then I can expect to see results”. Since they expect a positive future they don’t easily give up.
It seems that lucky people also have a “growth mindset” and I believe this is what gives them the edge over others.
Psychologist Carol Dweck says when it comes to learning we can have one of two mindsets – a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.
A fixed mindset will get in the way of you learning, whereas a growth mindset won’t.
Let me explain.
People who have a fixed mindset think that their level of intelligence is fixed and that’s that. According to someone with a fixed mindset, if you’re born dumb then that’s just too bad because you’re going to stay that way for life!
But people with a growth mindset see things very differently. They see intelligence as being like a muscle that gets stronger through hard work and practice. They also tend to embrace failure and see it as an opportunity to get valuable feedback.
A person with a growth mindset will think, “If I just work as hard as I can then really good things are going to happen”.
Those good things that do happen are often seen as lucky occurrences, but in actual fact, they’re not. The person created the right set of circumstances around them to make it (i.e. the lucky event) happen. As Psychologist Philippe Gabilliet says, “Luck happens when preparation and attention meet opportunity” .
So how can you cultivate more luck in your life?
The simplest thing you can do is this: keep a luck diary. At the end of the day just take a minute or two to reflect on all the positive things that have happened to you over the course of the day.
For example, my lucky diary entry for today includes the following:
1. I found a timer that I thought I’d lost (and saved myself $10 from having to buy a new one)
2. I had a delicious glass of freshly squeezed orange juice
3. I got to enjoy a beautiful 50 minute walk by the beach
4. I received a lovely email from a relative
5. A teacher has agreed to send me a box of free books
Now, what’s the point of doing this? Why bother to reflect on the lucky things that have happened to you over the day?
When you look back at the end of the week or the month at you luck diary entries, you start to view your life in a very different way. You start to relate to yourself as someone who has good things happen to them in life.